Legendary basketball coach Elmer Walcott passes away at the age of 88

Local Sports Journal

Longtime basketball coach Elmer Walcott, who guided the Western Michigan Christian Warriors to four state championships, died Wednesday morning at the age of 88.

WalcotElmer Walcottt, an inductee of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame, coached 26 years and his boys posted 400 victories during that time. His teams captured state titles in 1958, 1962, 1965 and 1970. The Warriors finished as runners-up in 1959 and 1979, which was his last season of coaching the boys.

Following the 1979 season, Walcott stepped down and turned the reins over to another legendary coach, Jim Goorman, who served as WMC’s jayvee coach prior to taking over the varsity spot.

“Elmer was a master at preparing his teams for the tournament and obtaining the most from each player for every game,” Goorman said. “Walcott had a major influence in many of his former players’ lives.”

Walcott also guided the WMC tennis team to the 1958 Class C-D tennis championship and also later coached the Warriors girls basketball squad.

In 1988, he was elected to the Muskegon Sports Hall of Fame and was  inducted in the Michigan Basketball Coaches of Michigan Hall in 1993.

Walcott also served as principal at WMC for many years and served as mayor of Muskegon from 1982-1985.

“When I came to WMC, he told me to go all out for everything on the court,” said Fred Vandenbrand, a former player under Walcott. “And he taught me to do that in life as well.”

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, June E Heerdt; 4 children, Barbara (Ken) Schemper of Grandville, Dan (Kathy) Walcott of Holland, Tom (Jaci) Walcott of Miami, FL, John (Katch) Walcott of Grand Rapids; 1 daughter-in-law, Deb (Steve) Howe of Spring Lake; 18 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Rick 29 years ago; 4 brothers and 5 sisters. 

The funeral is noon Saturday at the Allen Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 695 Allen Ave., Visitation is at the Sytsema Chapel of Sytsema Funeral Homes,737 Apple Ave., Muskegon, Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. and one hour prior to the service.

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