BORN: SEPTEMBER 19, 1970, GRAND RAPIDS, MI
Maybe it shouldnít have been a complete surprise that Dan Bylsma took over as coach of a floundering Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team on February 15, 2009, and less than four months later led them to a Stanley Cup championship.
After all, Bylsma always has been good right away. He was medalist at the Class D state golf finals in the fall of 1984 as a freshman and, in the spring of that year, helped Western Michigan Christian to a baseball state title. He was a state baseball Dream Team selection as a senior.
Bylsma also played basketball for the Warriors, but ironically, the sport he ended up focusing on Ė hockey Ė was not offered at his high school. Bylsma played elite travel and junior hockey during high school, then went on to a standout four-year career at Bowling Green. He then played 12 years as a defensive forward in the National Hockey League, including 429 games with the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
He retired from the NHL with 19 career goals and 43 assists. In 2010-2011, Bylsma guided the injury-riddled Penguins back to the playoffs, earning NHL Coach of the Year honors as his reward.
BORN: October 1, 1952, CAMDEN, AR
Most remember Lee Gilbert as the longtime coach of the powerhouse Muskegon Heights basketball teams, but he was also one of the best players to ever come out of the Heights basketball factory.
An all-state guard for the Tigers in 1970, Gilbert went on to play two years at Robert Morris Junior College in Illinois, followed by two years at the University of Oklahoma. A starter in both his junior and senior years for the Sooners, he lead the team in assists both seasons and served as the teamís captain his senior year.
Following graduation, he returned to the Heights as a special education teacher and took over as basketball coach in the fall of 1977. Inheriting a talented squad, he immediately led the Tigers to back-to-back Class B state championships in 1978 and 1979. His 1993 squad finished as Class B runner-up. Gilbertís Heights teams won an amazing 15 district championships and eight regional titles between 1978 and 2001.
In 2003, Gilbert was named head coach at Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills. He remained at the helm for five seasons, where his teams won two more district titles, than was tabbed the menís head coach at Muskegon Community College. He retired two years later following the 2009 campaign with a total of over 500 basketball victories spanning his entire coaching career.
BORN: SEPTEMBER 4, 1976, MUSKEGON, MI
A three-sport star at Orchard View in the early 1990s, Josh Keur was not only a dominating, four-year starter on the OV football team, but a two-year varsity starter in basketball and one of the stateís best discus throwers.
His unique combination of great size and coordination allowed Kuer to earn distinction as a rare four-year football starter in the Big Ten at Michigan State University.
Standing 6-foot-5, Keur eventually topped out at about 280 pounds. Along the way, he maintained his coordination and athletic ability as he grew, playing tight end for the Spartans. Keur caught 34 passes for 355 yards, including two touchdowns as a senior in 1997 under coach Nick Saban. A second-team All-Big Ten selection, he shared MSUís offensive player of the year with quarterback Todd Schultz.
Unfortunately, his promising NFL career was dealt a devastating blow when he ruptured his Achilles tendon three days before the teamís Christmas Day appearance in the Aloha Bowl. Undrafted, Keur was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent. Originally projected as an offensive lineman, the Colts moved Keur back to tight end. After two seasons on the practice squad, Keur saw playing time during the 2000 season. He was released by the Colts in 2001.