Class of 2013

Jim Goorman

JIM GOORMAN.jpg    Taking the reins of a storied basketball program is a job suited for very few. During his 33-year tenure as Western Michigan Christian High Schoolís head varsity boys basketball coach, Jim Goorman proved he was one of those rare individuals capable of building upon tradition established by his mentor.
     When Goorman assumed the boy's basketball head coaching duties at WMC, everyone knew he was stepping into a role previously manned by a local legend. Elmer Walcott, a 1988 inductee into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame, had built a stellar program at the small parochial school located on the east side of town.  His squad earned six trips to the state finals, the first in 1958. Along the way, the Warriors won four state crowns. Walcott last team finished the year as runner-up to the Class D title.
    A graduate of Holland Christian High School and Calvin College, Goorman joined the staff at WMC in 1970 as the freshman basketball coach. He had played only a single year of JV basketball while he was in high school, but studied the game during that season, and enhanced his skills over nine years as head coach of the JV squad and under the guidance of Walcott.
    In his first season as varsity mentor, Goorman's 1979-80 Warriors again finished the state tournament as Class D runner up.  At the conclusion of his coaching career following the 2011-12 season, his teams had scored five state championships (1992, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2010) and finished runner-up three times (1980, 1993, 2000).  Goorman's teams were consistently strong, as evidenced by his spot in the elite 500-win coaching fraternity, finishing with an overall varsity record of 504-282.  That total placed him at the top of the Muskegon areaís list of all-time leaders in varsity basketball coaching wins, unseating Okie Johnson of Muskegon Heights, an inaugural MASHF inductee. Goorman's combination of longevity, consistency and excellence landed him a spot in the Basketball Coaches of Michigan Hall of Fame in 2012.
     A solid baseball player during his high school and college days, Goorman also served WMC as their varsity baseball coach for 25 seasons (1970-82; 1988-99).  He has also become well known around the Midwest as the director of numerous American Youth Basketball Tournaments.

Jack Sprague

photo by Darryl W. Moran Photography

    Jack Sprague cut his racing teeth on the dirt tracks at nearby Thunderbird Raceway and Winston Speedway before motoring on up to the top of the auto racing world. A native of Spring Lake, he won championships at both of those local tracks before heading off for greater challenges.
    His first competition was not a race, but rather a Demolition Derby, held in 1981 on the oval and infield at Thunderbird, where he finished second. All that remained from the event was a good engine. Jack's Uncle Darrell owned an auto parts yard in Muskegon.  Assisting his uncle, they dropped the engine in a '74 Chevelle commandeered from the yard, and a racing career was born.
    Soon, he had left the local tracks for asphalt, competing at Berlin Raceway in Marne and beyond.  Although he found little success, he found support from his parents who encouraged him to press on. 
    In 1987, Sprague headed for North Carolina, the heart of NASCAR. He competed in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series, where he won more than 30 Late Model stock car events in his first two years. In 1989, he raced in the Busch Series, debuting in the All Pro 300 at Charlotte.  It was the beginning of a highly-successful nine-year career in the Busch series, including a fifth-place overall finish on that circuit in 2002.
    But it was in the Craftsman Truck series where Sprague made his biggest mark and where he is considered by many as the top driver in the history of that circuit.  Sprague won Craftsman Truck series titles in 1997, 1999 and 2001 while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. He finished in the Top 10 in points in each of his 12 seasons on that circuit and was the first Craftsman Truck driver to win more than $6 million in his career and to lead races for 6,000 laps. He retired from racing in 2009.

Holton Red Devils

    The Muskegon area is known for its high school football excellence, but girls volleyball isnít far behind. Fruitport, North Muskegon, Whitehall and Grand Haven are among the area schools that have made long runs in the annual state tournament, but one small school was the first to win a state championship - Holton High School in 1994.
    The Red Devils, coached by Ed Bailey, actually made it all the way to the Class C state championship match in 1993, before losing to Burton-Atherton, 15-5, 16-14. With many of those same players returning in 1994, Holton would not be denied, even when starting hitter Amber Trygstad went down with an ankle injury in the state quarterfinals. Amy DeLong and Jennifer Thornton, both all-staters, and the rest of the team elevated their level of play and made a statement with a dominating 16-14, 15-8 victory over Pewamo-Westphalia for the state title - a day which is still remembered fondly in the small, northern Muskegon County town.
    Bailey coached the team and Ryan Becklin was the student manager. Team members were Kelly Becklin, Dawn Long, Erin Monette, Jennifer Nichols, Dawn Peterson, Lori Swenson, Jennifer Thornton, Amber Trygstad, Amy Vandenberg and Amy DeLong.