MHSA(Q&A): Grand Ledge Gymnastics' Duane Haring

March 15, 2012

Duane Haring first took over the Grand Ledge gymnastics program in 2002 because his daughter Allison and her friends kept asking. He left to work as an assistant coach at Michigan State from 2005-06 -- but realized Allison and her teammates were on to something.

Haring returned to the Comets in 2006-07, and last weekend led them to a record fifth-straight MHSAA team championship. Grand Ledge senior Christine Wilson and junior Sara Peltier also won the Division 1 and 2 individual titles, respectively, making it two straight seasons Grand Ledge has swept all three competitions.

This winter's Team Final came down to Grand Ledge's last apparatus, bars, after a below-expectations performance on vault. But just as they have for a decade, Haring's Comets came through when it counted. And although Allison graduated nearly a decade ago, Duane plans to keep the winning streak rolling for years to come.

What was the conversation you had between your third and four apparatus? How would you paraphrase it?

I was sitting with the parents and I told them I was really angry because we can vault. We're a good vaulting team. I think we're the best vaulting team in the state, and we didn't do it. So I told them I just have to go for a walk, because I can't talk to them right now. I started to walk way, and I thought, “Oh yes I can.” I dragged them off the bleachers, and went out in the hallway. Trust me; they were wide awake for bars. They understood, loud and clear.

I know what they can do. All year I've been waiting for them to do bars like that.

Are all these championships different for you, or are they the same?

They're all nerve-wracking. This is supposed to be fun ... (he laughed). It's nerve-wracking.

How do you get them to come back and want to do six?

We lit a fire under them when we first did this. The community loves these guys. Most communities talk about football and basketball, and they still do. But more and more people in Grand Ledge talk about gymnastics. Almost everywhere you go, how about that gymnastics team? They're 75-0 ... that's in the paper, and people pay attention to that. They're into their gymnastics team in Grand Ledge.

Does this make you happy you came back and did this a second time?

It does. I'm glad. It's a good fit for me.

From MSP Post to Postgame: Lieutenants Return to the (Football) Field

September 27, 2023

While fans are settling into another season, Michigan State Police Lt. Tedric Gibbs has been fully immersed in football for months.

The Jackson Post’s assistant post commander serves as assistant coach for Jackson High School’s varsity football team and for the team at Parkside Middle School.

“I started coaching when my older son was in youth sports, as a way to do something together that we both love,” Gibbs said. “My younger son followed the same path, so I joined his team too. I grew up in Jackson and am grateful to be able to serve my hometown from the sidelines and at our post.”

Lt. Mark Giannunzio officiates at the high school and college levels.Some 400 miles north, Lt. Mark Giannunzio is also a familiar face in and on the field. The MSP Negaunee Post assistant post commander and Eighth District public information officer enforces the rules of the game as a high school and college football official, the latter for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“I started at the high school level to stay involved in athletics and make authentic connections in the community,” Giannunzio said. “It’s rewarding to help teach the game and share knowledge of the rules. I currently have a full 11-game schedule in the GLIAC Division II college conference, with high school games interspersed during the year.”

The correlation among coaching, officiating and policing translates.

“With my fellow troopers, I want to inspire, motivate and encourage to get the most out of them,” Gibbs said. “I take the same approach with my players to figure out what they need from me, as their designated leader, to be as successful as they can. In both capacities, I do the work alongside them. We do it together.”

This approach is especially important when tough times surface. Lieutenant Gibbs’ high school team experienced tragedy right before its first game when a player died in a car crash.

“We focused on adversity,” said Gibbs, who was in a unique position to talk from a police perspective too. “It’s a benefit to have that insight and background and share it with what they can control – make good decisions and wear your seatbelt.”

Lieutenant Gibbs incorporates his coworkers when he can, like during spring conditioning when fellow troopers join him and his players, helping all involved to make new connections and build strong bonds between the students and officers.

Gibbs also coaches at Jackson Parkside Middle School.“One of the most important attributes in both careers is communication,” Giannunzio said. “Communication can make or break an official and a police officer. Much like selling a citation to a motorist, I need to be able to sell the penalty in a calm and professional manner. Demeanor and attitude go together on both the football field and when we are out patrolling in the Blue Goose.”

Treating everyone with dignity and respect is something Lieutenants Gibbs and Giannunzio commit to as members of a modern police agency and in their areas of expertise on the football field.

“Both roles afford so many opportunities to develop culture and cultivate teamwork,” Gibbs said. “The best part is watching others flourish and playing a part in their growth.”

PHOTOS (Top) Michigan State Police Lt. Tedric Gibbs, left, serves as an assistant football coach for the Jackson High varsity. (Middle) Lt. Mark Giannunzio officiates at the high school and college levels. (Below) Gibbs also coaches at Jackson Parkside Middle School. (Photos provided by the Michigan State Police.)