The greatest sports teams WO staff have been part of

Blake Pedersen

Undefeated seasons. Multiple Division I players on the same high school team. Winning a State championship. There are various historical teams that people have experienced in their lives. I was a member of the Junior Varsity basketball team and we finished our high school season with a perfect 20-0 record.  On average, we won our games by 22.6 points. Not only that, but our closest game all year was 10 points. Our opponents scored less than 35 points per game. My team was the first team in school history to go undefeated. Not only did we complete a perfect record, but we did so in a dominating fashion. My Junior Varsity team had multiple players with Varsity talent. However, due to Varsity having a strong team, these players played JV. Like myself, various teachers at West Ottawa have been part of special sports teams.

Instructor Kyle Plank, Chelsea High School Basketball Team

   Kyle Plank, who played on the 1989-1990 Chelsea High School basketball team, remembers going 18-2 during the regular season.  “We ended up 18-2 during the regular season— winning a share of the Southeastern Conference title with Tecumseh, which also went 18-2.  We split with them during the conference schedule, both going 11-1,” said Plank. Plank started at point guard for his team. His team had four players averaging double figures.  Plank also recalled beating Pinckney in the final game of the regular season to clinch a share of the conference title. He said he felt relieved and accomplished after winning the title.  “All of our practices were from 6 to 8 in the morning— school started at 8:50. We would practice and then eat breakfast together in the cafeteria at school,” Plank said. His high school team lost to Tecumseh in the first round of Districts and finished the year 18-3.

Instructor Kurt VanAllsburg, Grand Haven High School Baseball Team

   Kurt VanAllsburg remembers his high school baseball team had one of the greatest seasons ever.  VanAllsburg was a 6 foot 5 right-handed pitcher for Grand Haven. “We went 25-3. I was 9-1 as a pitcher and played at Western Michigan University,” VanAllsburg said.  He later said that in the season, his high school team ranked 3rd in the state of Michigan. Not only that, but his team won the OK Red Conference title that year, which is the last time Grand Haven won the OK Red for baseball. He reminded people how special his team was. “Going 25-3 is not easy,” he said. VanAllsburg recalls having various players named all-conference on his team, including himself. When asked about his favorite memory, VanAllsburg said “Beating East Kentwood to clinch the title on a game-ending double play.”  VanAllsburg’s senior year baseball team provides another example of some special sports teams people at West Ottawa have played for.

Instructor Larry De Leon, Jenison High School Basketball Team

   Larry De Leon recalls his junior year basketball team at Jenison High School in 1991.  De Leon explained that his team finished the regular season 17-3. “We went on to win the OK Red conference championship that year, we were not very good talent wise, but we worked well together,” De Leon said. He explained that he did not contribute much to the team. De Leon said he got minutes occasionally, but mainly sat on the bench and cheered his team on.  Not only did his team win the conference, but his high school team won the District championship. “That was one of the coolest experiences I have had. That championship feeling was indescribable.” De Leon said. However, De Leon’s basketball team would lose to East Kentwood in the first round of Regionals, which ended the team’s historic season.

Instructor Steve Eidson, Coach of West Ottawa High School Basketball Team

   Steve Eidson’s 2007-2008 basketball team was his most memorable sports team. Eidson coached his team who finished the year 16-4. “We had 16 wins and we were the OK Red champions that year,” Eidson said. He explained that the previous season had lost five starters due to players wanting to focus on other sports. However, that did not ruin his team’s next season. “They were a great group of guys that bought into playing for each other.” he said. Eidson explained that two players from his most memorable sports team played basketball at the Division 2 level. Not only that, but another key player on Eidson’s team played Division 2 football. The joy and experience of winning 16 of the 20 games played proves the significant of his team.

   Today, West Ottawa’s sports teams are making history, and the staff that supports them have taken part in historic teams themselves.