Tales of Teams, Trophies & Trinkets - Vol 2

February 9, 2017

By Ron Pesch
Special for Second Half

A picture may be worth a thousand words – but often, we can learn as much from a traveling trophy, game ticket, and even an old megaphone.

Michigan’s high school sports history is more than a century old and filled with legends passed on of games, teams and athletes and the roles they played as our communities rolled forward toward present day. Following up last year’s “Tales of Teams, Trophies & Trinkets,” we present a second chapter highlighting artifacts that tell some of those stories.

  1909

Saginaw vs. Saginaw Arthur Hill

Football Trophy

This bronzed football was the original used in the 1909 Thanksgiving Day contest played between Saginaw High and Saginaw Arthur Hill, and won by Saginaw, 5-0 at Burkart Park. In 1948, the ball was stylized into a trophy by the Letterman’s Associations of the rival schools, designed to travel between schools as the reward for winning the annual contest. When the Lumberjacks of Arthur Hill ripped off 24 straight victories beginning in 1971 (the teams played twice in 1974), ownership of the trophy was mostly forgotten.  When talk of closing Saginaw High School mounted, the trophy was placed on display at Saginaw’s Castle Museum, then donated to the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame.

According to Jeffrey Cottrell, the multi-media specialist at the Historical Society of Saginaw County, when plans to close Saginaw High did not materialize,  “it was decided amongst the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame and the Arthur Hill Letterwinners Association that it was time to put it back into use.  This past fall, the Sports Hall of Fame awarded the trophy to Saginaw High when they beat Arthur Hill 40-0.”

Going forward, the Letterman's Trophy will continue to be presented to the winner of the football game between the Trojans and the Lumberjacks.

  1921

Detroit Cass Tech vs. Flint Central

Football Program


A crowd of 2,500 was on hand for this contest as Detroit Cass Tech downed Flint Central, 34-20, in an aerial battle between the squads. The Detroit Free Press arraigned for a special interurban run, with special railcars earmarked for Cass Tech students interested in attending the Saturday game at Flint. Between 200 to 300 made the trip to cheer their team to victory.

Flint Central completed 14 of 34 passes for 176 yards, but was intercepted on six occasions. Cass Tech arms were accurate on only 7 of 24 attempts for 160 yards, with four interceptions, but two completions went for touchdowns of 18 yards and 50 yards. A third pass of 35 yards helped set up the visitor’s first score. Bruno Murkobred, Cass Tech’s speedy quarterback, was the star of the contest, scoring three of his team’s five touchdowns.

1939

Kalamazoo Central vs. Battle Creek Central

Basketball Program

This tattered memento, from a scrapbook kept by historian Dick Kishpaugh, illustrates the modest design of a high school basketball  program back in 1939. Likely created by the high school print shop, this single sheet, printed specifically for distribution at the game, features autographs gathered by its owner. Wes Clark, one of the names captured on the cover, led Battle Creek Central with 10 points, including a pair of buckets in the final minute to secure a 27-26 win by the Bearcats.

Newspaper reports from the time indicate that halftime of the contest would feature “a table tennis exhibition between Helen Van Dyke of Flint, four-time state champion, and Floyd Painter, Battle Creek champion.” Miss Van Dyke was a sophomore at Olivet College at the time.

  1940

Lansing Eastern vs. Lansing Central

Football Program

This is the program cover from the 13th annual Football Classic between the Quakers of Eastern and the Big Reds of Central. Fans were requested to “refrain from making unnecessary noise as they drive away from the stadium … due to the nearness of Sparrow Hospital.”

At the time of the 1940 contest, Lansing Central led the series with six wins against five defeats. The series featured a single tie, a 6-6 result in 1935.

Eastern’s 1940 squad, coached by Walter Graff, was able to knot the series at six wins apiece with a thrilling 7- 6 victory over the crosstown rivals, coached by Al Bovard.

The 16-page document was hand set and printed by the Eastern and Central High School Vocational Printing Classes, and included rosters, messages from the two school principals and athletic directors, as well as comments from each member of the coaching staffs, team captains, student council presidents and numerous team members  from each school with their views on the game. Of course there is a photograph of each high school football team, but also photos of each band, their directors, and a list of the band members for both Eastern and Central. Finally, there are photos of the Eastern and Central Yell Leaders, nine for the Quakers and six for the Big Reds.

It is a true work of art.

  1950

Central Michigan College Relays

Track Medal

More than 2,300 athletes from 97 high schools descended upon Mt. Pleasant for the Tenth Annual Central Michigan Relays. Ecorse in Class B and Flint School for the Deaf in Class D earned team titles on Friday, May 5th while on Saturday, the 6th, Flint Northern and Milan won Class A and Class C, respectively. Six event records fell during the two-day event, three in the broad jump. 

This medal, honoring a member of the winning Class C sprint relay team, was awarded at the event. The winning team, and therefore, the name of the individual awarded the medal, remain a mystery.

  1962

Saginaw Sacred Heart

Megaphone

As at the majority of schools across the state at the time, athletic competition against other schools was not an option for Gloria Groll and her female classmates during her days as a student at Saginaw Holy Rosary High School. So, from the fall of 1959 until her graduation with 27 other students in the spring of 1962, she was a cheerleader for the Greyhounds. This beautiful megaphone, donated by Groll to the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame, is a memento from those times.

Holy Rosary was one of nine Catholic high schools operating in the Saginaw area in the 1950s and 1960s. Population shifts from the cities to the suburbs over the coming years would impact enrollment figures at schools nationally. In Saginaw, the opening of the Buena Vista School District in 1956 directly impacted Holy Rosary. In 1970 the school closed. A year later only three schools – SS Peter and Paul, St. Mary and Saginaw St. Stephen – remained.  In 1984, those schools were consolidated to form Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central.

  1963 & 1930

Grosse Pointe St. Paul

League Trophies

On the left, we find the trophy awarded to Grosse Pointe St. Paul's after winning the 1963 city championship. Bob Martin, a 6-foot-6 junior who earned first division all-Catholic honors, scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Lakers to a 55-46 upset-victory over Detroit Pershing. The game was played at University of Detroit Memorial before 6,979 spectators. It was the first time since 1958 that the Catholic League won the annual matchup with the champions of the Public School League.

To the right is the trophy awarded to St. Paul for winning the first golf tournament of the South Michigan Catholic High School League. The school's four golfers shot 710 over 36 holes on the day, 69 fewer strokes than second-place Detroit St. Rose. Played at Clinton Valley, the event saw Bill Beaupre win individual honors with a total of 158, including 76 in the morning. His cousin and teammate, Harold Beaupre, finished second with 169, while Peter Bononis of Detroit Holy Name was third with 171 strokes.

  1965

Fennville vs. Kalamazoo Hackett

Ticket Stub

This ticket stub from a doubleheader hosted at Western Michigan University’s Read Fieldhouse on February 18, 1965 was the first chance for many to witness lightning in a bottle.  A capacity-plus crowd of 9,100 fans slid through the gate to watch a rumor.

The antics of 5-foot-7½ guard Richie Jordan had been talked about around the Kalamazoo area, but few had actually seen him play. His skills were on full display on this Thursday night, as he netted a fieldhouse scoring record with 49 points in a come-from-behind 76-72 win over a much taller team from Kalamazoo Hackett. Jordan’s output during the evening’s second game eclipsed the 45 points Manny Newsome scored for Western Michigan University against Toledo, just over a year before.

The evening hadn’t started well. According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, “Jordan hit only six of his 13 field shots in the first half and threw the ball away eight times. Trailing Hackett by 17 points, 50-33, with two minutes to play in the third quarter, the Blackhawks were able to cut the deficit to 13, 60-47 as the teams entered the final frame.

Quickly, everyone in the fieldhouse knew who was getting the ball during the comeback attempt. Jordan grabbed control; with his drives for layups and “softly-arched” jump shots against intense pressure, he hit seven of nine field goals, wowing the crowd. With 2:36 to play, Jordan nailed a pair of free throws to tie the game at 72 all. Then, with 57 seconds left, the “Fennville Flash” nailed the go-ahead basket, followed by two insurance free throws to seal the win. For many, his 24 points in the fourth quarter sealed his journey from rumor to legend and, no doubt, inspired the single-sentence first paragraph of the next morning’s coverage in the Gazette.

“Yes, there is a Richie Jordan!”

(P.S. – Kalamazoo Central upset eighth-ranked Lansing Sexton, 67-57, in the evening’s opening contest).

Ron Pesch has taken an active role in researching the history of MHSAA events since 1985 and began writing for MHSAA Finals programs in 1986, adding additional features and "flashbacks" in 1992. He inherited the title of MHSAA historian from the late Dick Kishpaugh following the 1993-94 school year, and resides in Muskegon. Contact him at peschstats@comcast.net with ideas for historical articles.

PHOTO: Fennville's Richie Jordan pulls up for a jumper, showing off the form that's become iconic when recalling the high school phenom. (Photos of Letterman's Trophy and Megaphone were provided by Jeffery Cottrell, and photo of Grosse Pointe trophies was provided by Bill Roose.)

Decade After Title Trips, 'Coach K' Just as Driven to Coach Up Grand Haven Contenders

By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com

February 1, 2023

Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer has experienced unforgettable highs and nightmarish lows during her 25 years as the girls basketball coach at Grand Haven.

It’s now the 10-year anniversary of an amazing three-year stretch from 2011 to 2013, when “Coach K” guided the Buccaneers to a combined 81-2 record, three consecutive berths in the Class A Semifinals and back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

The lows are harder to pick out, but the way Grand Haven lost at Hudsonville on Jan. 24 certainly qualifies.

The Bucs led 46-44 with time running out, when Haven was called for a shooting foul with one-tenth of a second remaining on a desperation half-court shot attempt. Hudsonville senior Maddie Peroelje then made all three free throws to pull out an improbable 47-46 win.

“That one was brutal,” said Kowalczyk-Fulmer, who was feeling much better Tuesday, one week later, after Haven downed visiting Zeeland West 44-33 for its third-straight victory.

“I love all of it, the great teams and big wins, but also the struggles and trying to stay strong and figure things out.”

Kowalczyk-Fulmer, 52, might be in the midst of the best coaching job in her 31-year career, guiding a team with no returning starters to a 10-4 start, including an impressive 5-2 record after the first rotation in the rugged Ottawa-Kent Conference Red.

She is doing it with a team that only goes about six or seven deep, has no one in that group taller than 6-foot and lost its starting point guard, junior Abbey Klumpel, to a season-ending knee injury during the summer.

How is she doing it?

“She teaches a team game of basketball,” explained ninth-year Grand Haven athletic director Scott Robertson, who has been involved in high school sports for 32 years. “She is more invested in her sport, her kids, her program than anyone I have ever seen.”

The defensive leader Tuesday was gritty senior guard Grace Harrison, who held Zeeland West’s top perimeter threat scoreless.

On offense, junior forward Emerson Berndt turned in a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. She scored 14 of those points in the second half to help the Bucs put the game away.

Berndt had the hot hand Tuesday, but in other games this season sophomore guard Gillian Sorrelle or junior forward Maddie Schopf have carried the team from outside. The inside leader is 5-11 senior center Heidi Berkey, who held her own against ZW’s 6-4 senior center Kara Bartels.

Berndt, who leads the Bucs with 12 points and five rebounds per game, said this team has a special bond with its head coach.

“Coach has established such a close relationship with all of us, and she knows how to get us going,” said Berndt, who is one of the five Haven starters who all average at least six points per game. “She’s always joking around, but getting after it at the same time.”

Kowalczyk-Fulmer and son Drew accept the Class A championship trophy after the Bucs’ second-straight title win in 2013. Haven, which is a surprising second in the O-K Red at the halfway point, starts the second half of the slate Friday at first-place and No. 3-ranked Rockford (13-1).

Kowalczyk-Fulmer, a standout player at Caledonia and then Hope College, began her coaching career at the age of 21 when she was still a senior at Hope – coaching the seventh-grade girls team at Caledonia.

She then worked five years at Hastings, including the final three as girls varsity head coach, before taking the job as a physical education teacher and varsity girls basketball coach at Grand Haven in 1997.

Kowalczyk-Fulmer and her husband, Paul, have one son, Drew, a 12-year-old sixth grader at Grand Haven who was just a toddler when the Buccaneers were enjoying their magical three-year run a decade ago.

Haven made its presence known on a statewide level in 2011, when 6-5 sophomore Abby Cole led the Bucs to a 26-1 record, with the only loss coming by a single point to Detroit Renaissance, 39-38, in a Class A Semifinal at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.

The Bucs took the final step in 2012, erasing an 18-point, third-quarter deficit as senior guard Shar’Rae Davis drove the length of the court for the game-winning layup with nine seconds remaining in a 54-53 victory over Grosse Pointe South. Haven finished 27-1, with its only loss coming early in the season against O-K Red rival East Kentwood.

GH did it again in 2013 with a perfect 28-0 record, which might have been the most impressive because the only returning starter was Cole, who would go on to an all-Big Ten volleyball career at Michigan. The Bucs committed a staggering 32 turnovers, but made up for it with 22-of-29 shooting (76 percent), in a 60-54 overtime victory over, once again, Grosse Pointe South.

“Those are the glory days, and here we are 10 years later and you realize just how special it was,” said Kowalczyk-Fulmer, who has also coached track at Grand Haven. “We always stayed humble and worked hard.

“Obviously, having someone like Abby Cole as the last line of defense is something special. But she had such great character and leadership, as well. I can still see her out there when things weren’t going well, and she would wrap her long arms around her teammates and tell them it was going to be OK. And it was.”

Kowalczyk-Fulmer has amassed 391 victories as a head coach, with six O-K Red titles, eight District and four Regional championships – along with the two Class A Finals wins.

“Those trophies are getting hard to come by – I’m thinking about buying one on eBay,” said Coach K, displaying the quick wit that her fellow coaches, referees and players know very well.

She works hard, but also has plenty of fun and laughs along the way, which is why she doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon – even though this school year marks her 30th year of teaching.

As Kowalczyk-Fulmer was finishing up her media obligations after the Zeeland West victory, her son – a sports junkie who has literally grown up in the Grand Haven bleachers and locker rooms – sat waiting in the hallway.

“I plan to be here until he graduates,” she said with a nod to her only child. “I love it. It’s my passion, and I’m really lucky. Grand Haven is such a great place to live and coach.

“I’m not ready to stop.”

Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at kendra.tom@gmail.com with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Haven girls basketball coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer talks things over with her team during a game earlier this decade. (Middle) Kowalczyk-Fulmer and son Drew accept the Class A championship trophy after the Bucs’ second-straight title win in 2013. (Top photo courtesy of the Local Sports Journal.)