Grandpa Stull is a WO superfan

Brooke Pedersen


James Stull smiles for a picture with his granddaughters; Grace and Brooke Pedersen, after a WO soccer game. (Sara Pedersen)

The countdown to the start of my basketball game is under six minutes. No sign of my parents, but they’ll make it. With less than two minutes to tip off, still no parents. But I am smiling; my grandfather is where I expect him–top row near mid court.

   James Stull is 83 and has four kids, 12 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Many of his grandkids played sports in high school and even college. Four of his grandkids, including myself, attended West Ottawa High School where he has watched countless hours of athletics. My brothers, Drew Pedersen and Blake Pedersen played basketball, soccer, football, and baseball throughout their high school years. 

   Blake had planned to play golf his senior year, which my grandpa was very excited about, but unfortunately, Covid-19 canceled all spring sports that year. Grandpa would have been one of the few fans out on the course. 

   My sister and I played volleyball, basketball, and soccer throughout our high school years. With help from my mom and other adults, my grandpa has watched almost all of our games. His favorite sport to watch is by far is basketball, but he loves to watch all sports especially when his grandchildren are playing. 

   Stull said, “My favorite memory was the boys’ state final game at Michigan State because there were a lot of people there and both of my grandsons got to play in the game.” The environment at this huge game was one he will never forget. He got to watch both of his grandsons play in a game at the Breslin Center, which not many people have experienced.

   My grandpa lost his wife, Gloria Stull, in January 2005. Since then he has been living on his own and rarely gets out much. My mother makes it possible for my grandpa to attend almost all of our games. Often going to our games is one of the only times he gets to leave his living center and communicate with other people. 

   Sara Pedersen said, “My dad used to always ask to come to the games but as his cognition has gotten worse I just go get him and he is always excited to go.” Not only does getting out of his place make him happy, athletes, such as my siblings, feel loved because they always have someone at their games supporting them. 

   At times, my grandpa may be the only person that athletes have there to cheer them on. His presence makes athletes feel loved and work harder. Jr. Josie Kuyers said, “I always love seeing your grandpa! Seeing him makes me feel motivated to do my best and try my hardest because I know it makes him happy when we win.” 

   My grandpa is one of the sweetest people I know and is known for being in the stands at any WO sporting event. Whenever other parents or students attend different sporting events they are expecting him to be there. If Stull is not at a game, people ask my mom, “No grandpa today?” or “Where is Grandpa Stull at?” 

   I often will be sitting on the bench or playing in a game when one of my teammates will say to me, “Your grandpa is so cute over there watching you.” They also often notice when he is not at certain games because his attendance at all sporting events has become routine.

   My brother Blake said, “I always remember having Grandpa at all my soccer, basketball, and baseball games. I always remember him sitting near the front row of the stands and seeing him during my games and always getting greeted so kindly after all of my games. He is someone that no matter how poorly I played, he always was super positive and supportive to me and I am forever thankful to have a grandpa like him.” 

   Not everyone has a grandparent as loving and supportive as my brother and I have. Some grandparents can make grandkids feel like they played poorly after their sporting events, but that has never been the case with my grandpa. Stull will always walk up to me, my siblings, and other teammates with a smile on his face and compliment how well we all did. 

   No matter the temperature, the weather, or the opponent, my grandpa is at WO games. Instructor Ken Strobel said, “I have been to many games with your grandpa because my kids and his grandkids played soccer together. The game that stands out is the mosquito game at Rockford. A cloud of mosquitoes covered the field and your grandpa didn’t go to the car and leave the game and stood out there and donated a pint of blood.” Despite his age and comfort at sporting events, my grandpa is a true WO fan. 

   West Ottawa and its athletes are lucky to have such a kind man be such a great supporter and should be grateful for the joy he brings to every sporting event. So thank you, Grandpa, for being not only my biggest fan, but West Ottawa’s.