2007-08 Hall of Fame News

Muskegon boxing legend Kenny Lane dies at 76

Tuesday, August 5, 2008
by Tom Kendra

Even after retiring, Kenny Lane remained active in the Muskegon Boxing Club, where he often sparred with fighters he trained at the club's former site in the Shaw-Walker building.

The Muskegon boxing community lost not only its greatest fighter, but also the "heart and soul" of its youth training program Tuesday with the sudden death of Kenny Lane.

Kenny Lane

Lane, one of the all-time greats in Muskegon area sports history who once fought for the lightweight world championship, died Tuesday afternoon of a heart attack while playing golf. He was 76.

News of Lane's death swept through the gym at the Muskegon Recreation Center at Smith-Ryerson Park, where he was in the ring sparring with young fighters as recently as Monday night.

"I never got around to thanking him the way I should have for everything he's done for me," said Rocky Smith Jr., Lane's most recent professional fighter. "I can't imagine going to the gym to work out and him not being there.

Chronicle file photo
Southpaw lightweight professional boxer Kenny Lane, left boxed in 1950s and 1960s. He won the Lightweight title in 1963. He is shown with Walter "Pete" Petroskey, who boxed from 1923-1939.

Lane was the most accomplished boxer in area history, a crafty southpaw, compiling a career record of 77-14-2.

As good of a fighter as he was, Lane forged an even greater legacy as a trainer of young men, working with area kids for the past 40 years, freely giving his expertise to several generations.

"I've never met anyone who loved kids more than Kenny Lane," said Jack Crowell, who was trained by Lane and then coached with him for years at the Muskegon Area Boxing Club, now known as the Muskegon Recreation Center.

"Kenny was the glue of our organization. We are going to miss everything about him so much."

Lane, who honed his skills under the guidance of legendary area trainer Pete Petroskey, turned professional in 1953. He was known for his unorthodox style, which is why many top boxers of the day avoided fights with him.

He is the only area boxer to ever fight for a world championship, losing a controversial 15-round decision to Joe Brown in 1958. Calls for a rematch were ignored.

Lane continued to maintain his top-ranked challenger rating for several more years and won the Michigan version of the world lightweight crown in a 15-round battle with Paul Armstead. In 1964, 51⁄2 years after the first fight, Lane finally earned another title shot against Carlos Ortiz.

Once again, the southpaw fighter lost a close 15-round decision. Lane fought for one more year. On Oct. 25, 1965, at the age of 33, after losses to future junior welterweight champion Carlos Hernandez and former junior welterweight champion Eddie Perkins, he called it quits.

Yet, in 1982, he startled the boxing world by coming out of retirement at age 50 and winning three of four matches against younger opponents. As a result, Lane became the oldest professional boxer to appear in his 100th professional bout.

"We all know him now because of his great sense of humor and everything else, but make no mistake, Kenny was one of the greatest left-handed fighters of all time," said Crowell. "I've traveled all over the world with boxing, but no matter where I go, people know about Kenny Lane. He was that good."

Lane, who grew up on a farm in Big Rapids, once told The Chronicle that his poor upbringing gave him a special affinity for street kids, who often walked into one of Lane's makeshift gyms around the Muskegon area with nothing more than the shirt on their backs.

"He knew how to connect with those kids," said Matt Kolkema, who now runs the Muskegon Recreation Center. "The way the kids related to him was really incredible to watch."

Smith remembers that Lane drove young members of his Muskegon team, many of whom had never been out of the city limits, to shows around the state (his van has logged more than 300,000 miles). He would always dig in his wallet and buy McDonald's for everyone, Smith recalled.

Joanne (Petroskey) Southland, one of the co-owners of Bent Pine Golf Club where Lane died on Tuesday, was one of Pete Petroskey's daughters and a friend of Lane's for more than 60 years. She was struggling with the thought of not having his quick wit around the course any more.

"Kenny loved to putz around the course and go in the woods and look for golf balls," Southland recalled. "He would say: 'It's like Easter.'"

Lane, who worked at Continental Motors and later owned a laundromat, is also well-known for his profession later in life -- a television repairman. He was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame's second class in 1988 and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth, and four grown children.

Many people saw Lane for the last time at Saturday's "Kenny Lane Classic" golf tournament at Bent Pine, a fundraiser for the Muskegon Recreation Center.

Kolkema said his lasting image of Lane will be when he introduced him at the fundraiser and Lane stood up with his trademark pose, holding both hands clasped above his head.

"That's how we'll all remember him ..." said Kolkema, his voice shaking with emotion, "with his hands raised above his head like a champion."

Callander recalls '92 Cup win, picks Detroit this time

Saturday, May 24, 2008
by Ron Rop

Sixteen years after his name was engraved on the Stanley Cup, former Muskegon Lumberjack star Jock Callander is taking a keen interest in this year's final series.

Tonight, the Detroit Red Wings host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Callander predicts a highly competitive series, showcasing two teams with plenty of skill and speed.

"I think it will be awesome," said Callander, who was a member of the last Penguin team to hoist the Stanley Cup in 1992. "Neither team has seen the speed the other team will bring and the skill up front."

Since Callander lives in Avon Lake, Ohio, located between Pittsburgh and Detroit, he's seen both teams play on television on numerous occasions.

"Detroit hasn't seen anyone like (Sidney) Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so I think it will be exciting," said Callander,. the all-time leading scorer in the IHL. "I'm kind of torn between who to cheer for."

One of Detroit's assistant coaches is Todd McClellan, who has coached with Callander in the past. On the other side, the Penguins are his former team.

"I think Detroit is going to win," he said. "When the playoffs got going, I thought Detroit would win for sure. But now I think it's going to be closer than I thought with the way Pittsburgh is playing and Detroit has had trouble scoring. Pittsburgh will score some goals and if Johan Franzen comes back, that will help."

Believe it or not, it was 16 years ago when Callander was informed during a pregame meal with the Muskegon Lumberjacks that he and Mike Needham had been summoned to the Penguins.

"We were getting ready for a game and Phil Russell came in and told Mike Needham and me that we were going up," said Callander, whose recalled was prompted by injuries to Mario Lemieux and Joey Mullen. The next game, Bob Errey got hurt and the Lumberjacks lost another high scorer in Dave Michayluk.

I think it will be awesome," said Callander, who was a member of the last Penguin team to hoist the Stanley Cup in 1992. "Neither team has seen the speed the other team will bring and the skill up front."

Since Callander lives in Avon Lake, Ohio, located between Pittsburgh and Detroit, he's seen both teams play on television on numerous occasions.

"Detroit hasn't seen anyone like (Sidney) Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so I think it will be exciting," said Callander,. the all-time leading scorer in the IHL. "I'm kind of torn between who to cheer for."

One of Detroit's assistant coaches is Todd McClellan, who has coached with Callander in the past. On the other side, the Penguins are his former team.

"I think Detroit is going to win," he said. "When the playoffs got going, I thought Detroit would win for sure. But now I think it's going to be closer than I thought with the way Pittsburgh is playing and Detroit has had trouble scoring. Pittsburgh will score some goals and if Johan Franzen comes back, that will help."

Believe it or not, it was 16 years ago when Callander was informed during a pregame meal with the Muskegon Lumberjacks that he and Mike Needham had been summoned to the Penguins.

"We were getting ready for a game and Phil Russell came in and told Mike Needham and me that we were going up," said Callander, whose recalled was prompted by injuries to Mario Lemieux and Joey Mullen. The next game, Bob Errey got hurt and the Lumberjacks lost another high scorer in Dave Michayluk.

The three Lumberjacks were put on the same line, dubbed the "Muskegon line." All three scored one goal in the playoffs. Callander ended up with four points in 12 games, Michayluk had two points in seven games and Needham had one point in five games.

"In our first game together against Boston, they scored on us, but (Coach) Scotty Bowmen left us out there and we scored," Callander said.

The Penguins fell behind the Rangers 3-1 in the series before roaring back to win that series in seven games. They proceeded to sweep the Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals and the Chicago Blackhawks in the finals.

The deciding game was played at the old Chicago Stadium before a raucous crowd.

"It was a great game," said Callander. "I didn't get off the bench, but I was sweating. It was back and forth. I didn't get a shift. I thought if we'd get a couple goal lead, I'd get out there, but everytime we'd get up, they would score.

"It was unbelievable how loud it was in there," said Callander, who is the director of community relations and hockey operations for the American Hockey League's Lake Erie Monsters. "It was just an awesome feeling. I was so exhausted and I didn't even play much."

The charter flight back to Pittsburgh included players, their parents, wives and girlfriends.

"Everyone was happy and having a good time, but some of the guys were just exhausted," said Callander.

Six years ago, Callander met his former teammates on the golf course for a 10-year reunion of the championship team. He's run into several teammates since then and meets up with his good friend, Michayluk, every summer.

"We'll sit down and play cribbage, drink a couple beers and talk," said Callander.

One topic that certainly arises every year is the time three players from Muskegon helped the Penguins win their last Stanley Cup title 16 years ago.

'Sonny' Grandelius was one of the best

Friday, May 2, 2008

He was one of "Okie's boys" and he could run like the wind. Everett "Sonny" Grandelius, a Muskegon Heights High School sports legend, was one of the best and now he is gone.

Grandelius, 79 when he died last Friday, played for the Tigers in the middle 1940s when the Muskegon Big Reds-Heights rivalry was at a fever pitch -- the Heights coached by Oscar "Okie" Johnson and the Reds by C. Leo "Tiny" Redmond. "Sonny's" teams went undefeated in all three years he played.

In his greatest game as a two-way starter on offense and defense, Grandelius' 1945 Tigers beat the undefeated Big Reds at Hackley Stadium in a thrilling 7-6 game rated as one of the greatest ever played here. Heights won the mythical state championship that year. 

The star's career wasn't over yet by a long shot. "Sonny" became an All-American at Michigan State University, earning three football letters, numerous accolades, setting records all over the place and earning the title of "Mr. Touchdown." At school, he carried a straight "A" average in every subject but one -- "The Theory of Football."

He later served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, earning the Bronze Star, played a season for the professional New York Giants in the National Football League, went on to a coaching career in the college ranks, and also served as commentator for CBS Sports.

Through it all, Grandelius never forgot Muskegon Heights or West Michigan. He was a frequent attendee at the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame banquets. "Sonny" was a class act in every way, and a hallmark figure in local athletic history, someone who was, in the words of local football historian Ron Pesch, "the classic model of the student-athlete," who enriched our community in many ways.

Yet he saw things differently.

Standing before a huge Muskegon audience who had turned out in force to see their local hero honored during "Grandelius Day" in 1951, and with tears running down his face, he said:

"The community owes me nothing, but I owe it everything."

Hall honors Crowell

by Tom Kendra | Muskegon Chronicle

April 01, 2008

Jack Crowell fell in love with boxing while watching Pete Petroskey work Kenny Lane's corner during a 1963 title fight on a hot August afternoon in Saginaw.

In a dozen or so fights over the next decade Crowell proved he could punch and developed "a decent left hook."

From the start, though, Crowell, 61, knew his boxing legacy would be built outside the ring, not in it.

"I don't want to be known as a boxer, although I did have some talent," Crowell said. "I always wanted to be a coach and a promoter."

The local boxing Renaissance that blossomed in the mid-1980s began at Crowell's Cloverville gym in the late 1970s.

And it was Crowell who, along with Lane, Petroskey and Terry Markowski, helped keep the Muskegon Area Boxing Club going as it was kicked around town for almost three decades before finding a permanent home in the Muskegon Recreation Center on Jackson Hill.

On June 7, Crowell will receive the Muskegon Sports Hall of Fame's 2008 Distinguished Service Award for the nearly three decades he has devoted to teaching Muskegon area kids the sport he loves.

"It's really quite an honor," Crowell said. "It means an awful lot to me."
Crowell is quick to credit others for his award, including Hall of Famers Lane, Petroskey and Phil Baldwin.

"I can't believe that I'm being inducted alongside these three great boxers. Those guys were outstanding boxers and I'm a coach."

No one had a bigger influence on him than Petroskey, Crowell said. "Pete trained all of us. He was somebody I really looked up to. I wouldn't be (in the Hall) without him."
Crowell also credits his wife of 40 years, Sandy, for his success.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to sports in the area.

Crowell will be presented with his award at this year's MASHF Induction Ceremony on June 7 at the Holiday Inn-Muskegon Harbor.

He'll be joined by 2008 athletic inductees Ossie McCarty, Dan Brink and the 1971 and 1972 Shelby High basketball teams.

The 2008 male and female high school student-atheltes of the year, who will be announced in May, will also be honored.

Crowell was mesmerized by Petroskey's deft work in Lane's corner during that 1963 title bout.

"It changed my life as far as getting interested in boxing. There was just something about it. It just got a hold of me, got me a passion for the sport."

Crowell served a long apprenticeship in the ring under Petroskey's tutelage before ducking through the ropes to begin his coaching career in 1976.

Crowell was working the heavy bag in his garage on Cline Road on quiet afternoon when his coaching career arrived in the form of a skinny, 14-year-old neighbor kid.
"He said, 'I'd like to learn,' " Crowell said. "That's how I got started."

The first of thousands of kids Crowell schooled in the sweet science, Rich Boltze went on to win a state title.

Crowell's latest fighter is local super heavyweight Thomas Lewis. Lewis' next fight is on Saturday at the West Michigan Golden Gloves Championships at the Grand Valley Armory in Wyoming.

These days, Crowell is training the kids and grandkids of some of those first boxers he coached in Cloverville beginning in the late 1970s.

By the mid-1980s, the local fight cards Crowell was putting together were so popular they needed to be moved from the Fruitport High gym to the L.C. Walker Arena.

Crowell's boxers won 80 percent of their fights, a success rate that gained him national attention and a stint as coach for the U.S. Golden Gloves team from 1980-82.

"The kind of kids I get like to fight and would fight anyway," Crowell says. Boxing gives them an outlet and helps point them in the right direction, he says.

"It gives them a different perspective. They're not worried about their reputation on the street, but about that Golden Gloves trophy," Crowell says. "I've seen thousands of lives turned around by boxing."

During the 1980s, Crowell got his fighters ready for big competitions by taking them to state prison in Ionia to spar with the inmates there.

"I'll tell you what, it gave them a reality check when they walked through that prison," Crowell said.

Golden Glove fights were nothing after a workout at Ionia, Crowell says. "In the prison, they'd give you the toughest guys they could find and if you couldn't fight, you were in trouble."

Local boxing suffered a TKO in the late 1980s when changes at the S.D. Warren Paper Co. forced Crowell to work second shift.

After Crowell closed his gym, area boxers were homeless until Lane and Rocky Smith opened the Muskegon Area Boxing Club in the mid 1990s.

Shortly after he made it back to the first shift at the paper mill in 1998, Crowell signed on with the MABC.

Since he retired, Crowell has given the MABC his undivided attention.

Thanks to Muskegon police officers Mat Kolkema and Emilio Trejo, the MABC found its current home at the Muskegon Rec. Center, Crowell says.

From Lane on down, its always been tough for a Muskegon area boxer to get an even break, Crowell says.

"Kenny (Lane) got robbed when he fought Joe Brown for the lightweight title in 1958," Crowell says. "We all saw Kenny get robbed, but the New York mob owned Joe Brown."
Lane lost on a controversial one-point, 15-round decision. Calls for a rematch were ignored.

Real life can be brutally tough at times, says Crowell. Boxing should be fair.
In close to 40 years in the sport, Crowell has evened the odds for more than a few local kids.

Fame game
What: Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2008
Who: Inductees will be Ossie McCarty, Dan Brink and Shelby's 1971 and 1972 state championship basketball teams. Distinguished Service Award winner is Jack Crowell.
When: June 7, 2008 at the Muskegon Harbor Holiday Inn.
Also: The hall will announce its male and female Student-Athletes of the Year in May.

Hockey great Gary Ford
dies at 62

Friday, January 25, 2008
By Ron Rop

Gary Ford, one of the greatest players in the long history of Muskegon professional hockey, died early Thursday at home in Washago, Ontario.


Ford, 62, died of an apparent heart attack, said longtime friend Steve Habetler, who was informed of his death by Ford's wife, Sue.


Ford was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 after a highly successful 10-year career with the Muskegon Mohawks.


"Gary Ford was probably the most talented hockey player I've seen personally," said Habetler. "And the smartest hockey player. I learned so much from him about the game. That was like getting a Ph.D. in hockey. He was so smart and so smooth."


Ford was born Oct. 6, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario, and began his Mohawk career in 1967.


 During his rookie season, Ford had 56 goals and 59 assists for 115 points. He not only won the Leo Lamoureux Memorial Trophy as the league's top scorer, but was also won the Garry F. Longman Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie.


He won another scoring title in 1971-72 when he amassed 109 points in 71 games and in in 1972-73 when he appeared in just 59 games, but scored 60 goals and 81 assists for 141 points.


How did Ford explain his scoring title despite missing more than a dozen games?


"A lot of payoffs," said Ford in a Chronicle story published in 1995. "I slipped the goalies five dollars. In those days it was a lot of money."


That point total remains the highest ever in Muskegon hockey history. He was a four-time all-star in the International Hockey League.


He played 10 games in the American Hockey League for the Nova Scotia Vogageurs part of the 1972-73 season and later with the Grand Rapids Blades in the USHL.


Ford retired from the Mohawks after the 1979 season having scored 353 goals and 577 assists for 930 points.


The Ford and Habetler families were neighbors for many years and remained in constant contact. They annually spent two weeks together in the summer at a cottage, talked on the phone and exchanged e-mails.


"As gruff as he appeared on the outside, he was probably one of the warmest human beings I've ever met," said Habetler, a former hockey coach at Mona Shores High School. "He loved watching kids. He just enjoyed the game with the kids ... he was a big kid himself."


Heights, Muskegon win; to square off tonight

Ken Stevens / Muskegon Chronicle

Corey Johnson of Muskegon drives to the basket while defended by JaMarcus Martin of Mona Shores in the second quarter of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Reeths-Puffer High School. Muskegon won 70-55.

Ken Stevens / Muskegon Chronicle
Marquis Brewer of Muskegon Heights drives to the basket, while Dan Durham of Fremont attempts to take a charge in the third quarter of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Reeths-Puffer High School. Brewer and Mark Parker led the Muskegon Heights Tigers to a 71-61 win over Fremont.

Friday, December 28, 2007
By Scott Brandenburg

Marquis Brewer and Mark Parker continue to be tough matchups for Muskegon Heights' opposition.

The dynamic Tiger duo couldn't be stopped Thursday on Day 1 of the Sixth Annual Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Basketball Classic as the Tigers remained perfect in the history of the event.

Brewer came off the bench to score 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Parker totaled 14 points in Heights' 71-61 win over Fremont at Reeths-Puffer High School.

"Marquis and Mark might be the most athletic tandem in the state," said Tigers coach Keith Guy. "It's definitely nice to have a 1-2 punch like that."

In Thursday's second game,

Muskegon ran away from Mona Shores 70-55.

Both the Big Reds and the Tigers appear to have momentum heading into today's 7:30 p.m. showdown between the rivals.

Fremont and Mona Shores meet in today's first tilt at 6 p.m. Tickets go on sale at 5 p.m. at Reeths-Puffer's ticket booth.

Muskegon Heights 71, Fremont 61

Brewer and Parker's production, plus a game-high 19 points from Heights senior guard/forward Zolton Vines, secured the win against Fremont.

The Packers never threatened to win, but did hang around. They trailed by 12 points entering the fourth quarter and closed to within six with 29 seconds to play.

It wasn't until Vines went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the last 25 seconds that Heights could move on to thinking about Muskegon.

"We have a lot of guys who are still trying to figure out their roles," said Guy, whose team improved to 4-3. "We still lack that killer instinct we need to have to finish teams off, but we got the job done."

Fremont (3-3) was left wondering what could have been had it gotten off to a better start.

The Packers led 10-9 through two minutes of play, but could've scored more.

Muskegon Heights' transition defense did not match up well with the Packers four-guard offense and Fremont got loose for plenty of open 3-pointers and shots in the lane.

Fremont only shot 29 percent from the field in the opening half. Heights shot 60 percent to take a 33-26 halftime lead.

"We had a lot of close shots and open looks and we've got to put them away," said Packers coach Peter Zerfas. "I think instead of being aggressive we were pretty passive and that led to the missed shots.

"We still don't have the confidence that we can beat a team like that. I think we can."

Jeremy Gerth led Fremont with 17 points and three steals. Sean Hendon added 12 points and Dan Durham added a team-high seven rebounds and four steals.

Parker and Vines paced the Tigers with eight rebounds apiece. Heights had a 34-24 edge on the glass.

For the game, Muskegon Heights shot 29-of-50 from the field and just 1-for-3 from 3-point range. The Packers were 19-of-56 overall and 7-for-25 beyond the arc.

Muskegon 70, Mona Shores 55

The Big Reds continued their steady play early this season with the double-digit win over their former league rivals.

Muskegon built an 18-point lead behind aggressive play at both ends of the court and then turned to its long-range shooting to turn away a Sailors' rally in the second half.

The Big Reds improved to 5-1 heading into their rivalry game with the Tigers, who have beaten them each of the previous five meetings.

"I think one of the keys for us was being focused on Mona Shores," said Muskegon coach Bernard Loudermill. "The kids did a great of concentrating on what they needed to do this game. I'm sure they're glad they can turn their attention to Muskegon Heights now because they've been looking forward to it for a long time."

Shores (1-5) was led by Matt Heneveld and Tony Roof with 23 and 12 points, respectively.

The Sailors started the second half on an 11-2 run to get back in the game. Muskegon led 41-32 with 2:55 to play in the third quarter, but sank four three-pointers in the next five minutes to stem the tide.

Senior Chris Crawford drained four 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 20 points. Takarri Churchwell totaled 12 points, six assists and three steals and Corey Johnson added 11 points and seven rebounds for Muskegon.

After Michigan State career, North Muskegon's Naymick has mind set on pros

Thursday, December 27, 2007
By Dave LeMieux

Drew Naymick is smart enough to earn a Ph.D., but not at the expense of his basketball career.

"I'm in a position in my life and on this team that I wouldn't trade for anything," said Michigan State's 6-10, 245-pound senior center.

"I've had some success academically, but it's not why I'm here. I'm a basketball player. It's what I love to do. I'm going play as long as I can."

The former North Muskegon standout came of age last season, mastering Spartan coach Tom Izzo's intricate system.

He led the team with 55 blocked shots, the second-highest season total ever by a Spartan. He appeared in 35 games, starting the last 11. He averaged 3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in those starts.

Naymick has blocked 89 shots since his college career began in 2004 and needs just nine more to break Matt Steigenga's school record of 97 set from 1988-92.

Naymick earned his undergraduate degree in finance last spring and is currently taking master's and doctorate level courses.

Realistically, though, he says getting a Ph.D. is a long shot. Not because he couldn't, but because he hopes to have a long, successful pro hoops career.

"That's the goal of every player at a high Division I program. Of course, the air is very thin up at the top, but if the opportunity presents itself, I'd take it."

If that means playing overseas, so be it, Naymick says.

Naymick already has passed a major turning point in his life and has chosen a path which will determine his future.

Last summer, when Naymick's undergraduate classmates began building financial careers by working as interns in brokerages and investment firms on Wall Street or in Chicago, he was in the gym.

"(An internship) takes 100 percent of your time and you can't do that with basketball," he says. "But I love what I'm doing and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Where will his choice leave him 10 years from now?

"You know what, I'd still like to be playing," he said. "But it's likely I'll have found a finance-related job somewhere."

As an undergrad, Naymick said he learned a basic knowledge of financial theory. In the graduate-level classes he's taken this year, he's learned about the real-world applications of financial theory on the corporate level.

He made the same transition from theory to practice on the basketball court.

"You can't play here unless you can defend. Defense is the cornerstone -- defense and rebounding. That comes through in everything we do and practice."

"There's definitely a learning curve. It's especially true when you're a freshman. You think you play defense in high school, but you really don't. It's not anywhere near the system we have here."

"The first couple years, I spent a lot of time learning the system and learning to function within the system," Naymick said.

After starting the first seven games of the 2005-06 season, Naymick suffered a shoulder injury and was red-shirted.

By last season, Naymick says he'd learned Izzo's system so well that shifting assignments on the fly became second nature.

By the end of this season, Naymick will earn his doctorate in Izzology.

"You can learn a lot of life-lessons from a guy like Izzo," Naymick said. "Lessons about competitiveness and desire and drive and what can separate you from the people you're competing with. Lessons that are very applicable to the business world. No one will ever outwork him or out-prepare him. That's something that not only applies in basketball, but in life as well."

"He's never satisfied -- it's one of things that makes him a good coach. Every year he pushes us further than we think we can go. Right now, of course, he's pushing me to be more of an offensive player."

Even the demanding Izzo was pleased after the Spartans handled Texas, 78-72, on Saturday, said Naymick.

The win pushed the Spartans from No. 9 up to No. 7 in the AP Top 25 poll.

The Spartans (11-1) are the only team in the poll to play four ranked teams, beating all but UCLA.

"That was a big-time win," Naymick said. "We checked their stuff and had some players step up on offense."

"I didn't put up the best numbers, but I did what I do -- played 30 minutes of solid defense."

Naymick finished with four points, one rebound and a block.

Through Saturday, Naymick's 15 blocks are second on the team only to starting center Goran Suton's 16. Naymick is averaging 3.6 rebounds and 3.5 points a game.

"Our confidence, team-wise, is at an all-time high right now," Naymick said on Monday. "As long as we take care of business against Wisconsin-Green Bay (on Saturday), then we can get back into the Big Ten season and do some damage there."

Anything less than the Big Ten title and a run deep into the NCAA tournament will be a disappointment, Naymick said.

Naymick made it back to North Muskegon for Christmas, fighting whiteouts and detouring around a pile-up on the drive from East Lansing on Sunday.

He planned a quiet break.

"I'm getting a little bug. Physically, I'm not feeling well, so I'm going to lay low and rest." .

Terrance Taylor is

Michigan's Man In The


By Scott Brandenburg
Chronicle correspondent

Terrance Taylor is currently on a much-needed three-day break before he packs up and heads to Florida.

The last month for Taylor has pretty much been a blur to the University of Michigan junior defensive tackle.

Even though Taylor and the Michigan football team hasn't played a game since their gut-wrenching 14-3 home loss to rival Ohio State over a month ago, there's been plenty of activity to digest.

"It's been pretty hectic," agreed Taylor, the two-year starting nose tackle for the Maize and Blue. "I think I'm going to hang out here and relax."

All that Taylor's had to deal with is the post-OSU loss, announcement of veteran U-M head coach Lloyd Carr's retirement (effective after the bowl game), the waiting game before the Wolverines learned they're headed to the Capital One Bowl to play defending champion Florida, the naming of new head coach Rich Rodriguez, the firing of all of the Wolverine assistant coaches (also effective after the bowl game) and final exams.

It's enough to make even the most grounded and light-hearted athlete's head spin and Taylor is exactly that.

Despite all the distractions Taylor's focus is still on playing the game he loves at a high level and getting a win for his Wolverines.

The former all-stater and state champ at Muskegon has certainly got a lot to play for Jan. 1 -- an outgoing coach, outgoing senior friends and ... himself.

"I haven't won a bowl game since I've been here, so I really want to win this one," said Taylor, whose Wolverines lost to USC 32-18 in the 2007 Rose Bowl and lost 32-28 to Nebraska in his freshman season. "There are a lot of people who want to win this. Of course we'd like to make it a good game for Coach Carr in his last game here, but we just want to win, period."

Taylor feels a win on a New Year's Day Bowl against one of the hottest teams in the country will make a disappointing season measurably less so.

Besides the injuries to senior quarterback Chad Henne and senior running back Mike Hart, the Michigan defense has been under the most scrutiny.

Taylor, a 6-0, 308-pound nose tackle, has done his part to solidify the line and the 'D' and continues to look for ways to improve. He knows Florida and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow poses plenty of problems.

"We know they've got a pretty good offense," said Taylor. "We just need to take care of our responsibilities and try to disrupt their rhythm as much as possible.

Heading into the Capital One Bowl the 21-year-old Muskegon native's focus is on losing some weight so he can play lighter and quicker both in a week and in his upcoming senior season.

Taylor's always combined strength, he was the state's power lifting champion for three straight years, and quickness in his game. He's just looking for a little more.

It didn't slow Taylor down much this season as he earned second-team all-Big 10 honors according to conference coaches. He racked up 27 solo tackles and 54 overall (6th on team), 3.5 sacks (4th), 8.5 tackles for loss (4th) and the only Michigan blocked kick of the season despite drawing plenty of attention.

As of yet Taylor is unsure of how things are going to work out under Rodriguez's regime.

"I haven't really spoken to him yet," said Taylor, who was the only returning starting defensive lineman this season. "I've heard some things but I don't know for sure what all we're going to do.

"So far I've just been waiting around wondering who the assistant coaches are going to be like everyone else. I know it's going to be different but I'm still going to be in the middle of the action. It could be even more hectic in there."

No. 67 has mixed feelings about Carr's retirement.

"I'm sad to see him go," said Taylor. "I wish he would've made next year his last one so he'd coach my last year. At the same time I'm happy for him. I'm happy he can relax and get away from all the stresses of recruiting and media and everything."

A psychology major with a 3.0 grade-point-average, Taylor is looking forward to some fun in the sun starting next week in Florida.

After the month he's had, he's earned it.


Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame - 2008

Friday, December 14, 2007
By Dave LeMieux

The Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame board got twice as much for its money when it selected its three 2008 inductees.

Muskegon Heights grad Ossie McCarty was the first in Michigan to win state basketball titles as both a player and coach.

Another group of Tigers, Shelby's boys basketball team, won back-to-back state Class C titles in 1971 and 1972.

And Dan Brink, the first Muskegon-area wrestler to win a state title, turned the wrestling programs at both Whitehall and Fruitport into powerhouses.

The hall's 22nd group of athletes will be inducted on Saturday, June 7 at the Muskegon Harbor Holiday Inn.

Each year, the hall's 11-member board of directors considers hundreds of nominees before naming a select group to be honored. Here's a thumbnail sketch of the "Class of 2008."

Ossie McCarty

"The Wizard of Oss" played guard on Heights' legendary 1956 and 1957 Class A state championship teams, then returned to coach the Tigers to the Class B title in 1974.

Although basketball was his sport of choice, McCarty attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship. And, according to Hall of Fame president Gene Young, baseball may have been McCarty's best sport.

"He had to be one of the best prep athletes ever from the Muskegon area," Young said. But it was what McCarty did after his college career was over that set him apart, Young said.

"He could have gone anywhere, but he spent 30-plus years as a teacher, mentor, coach and administrator with the Heights school system," Young said.

Brought up from the jayvee as a sophomore for the 1956 tournament run, McCarty earned a starting spot in the 20-1 Tigers' lineup for their 63-53 victory over Hamtramck in the title game.

McCarty began the next season as a starter. The Tigers went 20-0, beating archrival Benton Harbor three times, including 74-52 in the state semifinals, en route to a 61-49 victory over Detroit Austin and future Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere in the title game.

He was named varsity basketball coach and athletic director in 1971. He compiled a 100-33 record in five seasons before the controversial hiring of 24-year-old former Heights' star Lee Gilbert in the fall of 1977.

McCarty's 1972 team reached the Class B title game before losing to River Rouge, 65-64, after leading by seven with under a minute to play.

McCarty has always called the 1974 team's run to the state title the highlight of his sports career. The '74 team overcame five losses in the regular season to win Heights' first Class B title 52-44 over Holt.

McCarty once said: "To be truthful, that team didn't have the talent of some of my other teams, but they just wanted it more."

Shelby basketball teams of 1971, 1972

Few towns have had a longer running love affair with the hometown team than Shelby and its 1971 and 1972 Tigers.

"They really captured the imagination of that town," said Young. "Still, to this day, when they're seen on the street, they're seen as heroes."

"Oh my goodness," said Mary Beckman, whose older brothers, Fred and Stan Sanford, played on those teams along with her husband, Bob Beckman.

"We're still talking about those teams. They had a chemistry and such a sense of pride. We haven't seen anything like it here since."

Few towns of any size ever have.

The Shelby boys team which won back-to-back Class C state titles was a close-knit squad that galvanized the whole town.

Outside of Shelby, the two most recognized names from those teams are Coach Ed Douma and center Paul Griffin. Douma recently retired following a 31-year coaching career spent mostly at the college level with a 561-295 record. Griffin played in the NBA for seven years.

For the folks in Shelby, the names Beckman, Sanford, Plummer, Van Duinen, Inglis, Danville, Raeth, Dawson, McDonald and Gosselin are just as legendary.

Both titles truly were team efforts, Beckman said. "Everybody on that team had a role to play," Beckman said.

The players were inseparable. "Everybody hung out together," Beckman said. "Not just the starting five."

Their win over previously unbeaten Stockbridge in the 1971 title game completed a perfect 24-0 season.

Despite three losses, including to Class B state finalist Muskegon Heights, and West Michigan Conference co-champ Scottville Mason County Central, the 1972 Tigers beat Saginaw St. Stephen 71-61 in the 1972 title game.

Members of the 1971 Shelby team were: Bob Gosselin, Jack Griffin, Brian McDonald, Bob Beckman, Brad Plummer, Tom Inglis, Scott Dawson, Stan Sanford, Dan VanDuinen, Curt Raeth, Kimm Griffin, Paul Griffin, Alan Griffin, Steve Danville, Fred Sanford, Steve Pearson and Tom Lipps.

Member of the 1972 Shelby team were: Jeff Near, Norm Donker, Syl Flores, Jim Hoekenga, Paul Byl, Bob Erickson, Blair Hutchinson, Jake Vandehoef, Paul Tate, Stan Sanford, Bob Beckman, Scott Dawson, Dave VanDuinen, Curt Raeth, Paul Griffin, Steve Danville, Dan VanDuinen, Jack Griffin and Bob Gosselin.

Dan Brink

A state champion at Orchard View and an All-American at both Muskegon Community College and the University of Michigan, Young says Brink's greatest accomplishment might be building powerhouse programs at both Whitehall and Fruitport.

"He turned Whitehall into a state wrestling power and then returned and rebuilt the Fruitport program," Young said.

Brink was the first Muskegon wrestler to win a state championship, going 37-7 and winning the Class B 148-pound title as a junior at Orchard View.

In 1976, Brink came far closer than any other local wrestler before him to reaching the Olympics, when he qualified for the team. But his Olympic dream was denied when he severely injured his neck en route to winning his finals match.

Under Brink from 1975-1982, Whitehall compiled a 94-16 dual meet record. Included among the 21 state medalists on Brink's Whitehall team were three individual state champions.

The Vikings won two regional titles, three conference championships, three district titles and won the city meet three times.

Brink resumed his coaching career in 1987, returning the Fruitport program to prominence. The Trojans posted a 110-89-1 record in 10 seasons under Brink. The Trojans' 10 state medalists included three state champions. Brink's teams won two district titles, two conference championships and two city meets.