It’s impossible to include all the perspective we gain from every “Battle of the Fans” visit.
But this anecdote, although it didn't make Tuesday’s story about our Frankenmuth trip, tells of another great example for what student cheering sections can accomplish.
Frankenmuth and Millington are heated rivals, to say the least, separated by 13 miles and made more competitive by plenty of championship-deciding matchups over the years.
But for their boys basketball game Jan. 10 at Frankenmuth, student section leaders from both schools almost completely on their own set up the game as a cancer awareness night, complete with Frankenmuth students in black shirts and Millington’s wearing pink.
The idea was the brainchild of a of Frankenmuth section leader, who then received help from a local bank and contacted Millington to get the ball rolling.
Battle of the Fans has shown us the obvious – these student sections need strong leaders – but also the special things they can accomplish with additional initiative.
Two more rivals, Fennville and Saugatuck, met late last month for their second “Never Forgotten” boys and girls basketball games with proceeds going to the Wes Leonard Heart Team for the purchase of AEDs.
Players wore jerseys with names on the backs of friends and family members who had died, and those jerseys were then given to family members after the games. Officials Ace Cover, Chris Dennie and Kyle Bowen also donated their game checks to the Heart Team, as did the winner of that night’s 50-50 raffle.
Leonard died from sudden cardiac arrest after making the game-winning shot in a basketball game March 3, 2011. The two schools played their first “Never Forgotten” games last season.
More support for less specialization
I’m asked once a year at least about sport specialization – that is, athletes focusing on just one sport, often from an early age, and if it pays off some way down the road.
Most of my evidence to support my belief in the well-rounded athlete has been anecdotal, based on conversations with people at the high school and college levels over the years. But a British study published this fall in the Journal of Sport Sciences by University of Birmingham researchers provides some interesting empirical findings.
The study of 1,006 people from the United Kingdom showed that those who participated in three sports at ages 11, 13 and 15 were “significantly more likely to compete at a national rather than club standard” between ages 16-18 than those who had practiced only one sport.
In other words, the study found that those who played more sports at earlier ages played at a higher level during their high school-age years, which seems to contradict the one-sport focus philosophy.
Click for more perspective on the study from Chris Kennedy, the Superintendent of Schools in West Vancouver, British Columbia.
PHOTO: The boys and girls teams for Fennville and Saugatuck pose together after their "Never Forgotten" games Dec. 21 at Fennville High. (Photo courtesy of Al LaShell.)
HARBOR SPRINGS — The Petoskey boys ski team remains in a class of its own.
Petoskey crushed the slopes at Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs on Monday by collecting its fifth-straight Division 2 championship with a combined score of 68 points. Monday’s title run marks the program’s 12th D2 title in 13 years, and the Northmen show no signs of slowing down.
Coach Ben Crockett credited his entire coaching staff and parents for the team’s success since he began guiding the Northmen in 2019.
“The boys came together after a Regional event where we had some strong competition,” Crockett said. “When they realized it was a foregone conclusion they were going to win another state championship, they rallied and came together to execute a plan.”
With Petoskey coming in first place, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s finished runner-up (102), and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (134) finished third. Great North Alpine placed fourth (134), and Harbor Springs finished fifth with a team score of 155.
Northmen junior Gavin Galbraith finished with an individual title in the slalom and third-place finish in giant slalom.
Galbraith finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:08.53 and the giant slalom with a combined time of 50.85. Teammates Taylor Keiswetter and McClure Galbraith placed in the top 10 in the giant slalom.
Keiswetter finished fifth with a combined time of 50.98, and McClure placed eighth with a combined time of 52.21.
"It's great that all of my hard work has paid off this season. Thanks to all my coaches and the Nub's Nob staff," Gavin said.
Gavin’s journey to get to where he is today started freshman year when he was named the 16th skier on the varsity roster. After waiting for his turn, he didn't shy away from the moment.
Last season, Galbraith watched the Northmen capture the team title, and the junior sensation was motivated to continue that streak Monday.
"All my coaches and family have been pushing me to keep this streak going," he said. "If we didn't win today, it would've been a bummer. But we tried our best, and that's all that matters."
Houghton’s Eli Heathman won the giant slalom with a combined time of 50.09, followed by Cadillac’s Brady Koenig in 50.74 and Galbraith in third. Gaylord’s Keaton Abraham was fourth (50.96) and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s CJ Studt was fifth (50.98).
Onekama’s Braydon Sorenson finished runner-up in the slalom with a combined time of 1:09.07, East Grand Rapids' Quinn Irwin finished third (1:09.42), Harbor Springs’ Jackson Deegan finished fourth with a combined time of 1:10.10, and St. Mary’s Pierson Kuhn finished fifth with a combined time of 1:10.93.
PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Gavin Galbraith races to the Division 2 slalom championship Monday. (Middle) Houghton’s Eli Heathman speeds down the hill on the way to winning the giant slalom. (Photos by Sarah Shepherd.)