The first Muskegon All Star Classic was what you might call a “feel good” kind of event.
It didn’t look like it felt real good at times with some of the punishing hits delivered on the Mona Shores football field on Saturday afternoon.
The “feel good” part comes from watching founders Nick VandenBosch and Terrence Williams give back not only to their hometown, but to a sport they dearly love.
I saw VandenBosch during the storm delay and he had sweat pouring down his face. He wanted so much for the weather to clear and for the game to get underway. He and Williams invested so much time and effort into making the game a reality.
This wasn’t a “take the money and run” event. Seven $1,000 scholarships were handed out after the game.
Mona Shores Aaron Doriot put on quite a show on his homefield and earned the Media Explosion Award.
Scott Staal from Grand Haven won the Outstanding Senior Award, Ludington’s Taylor Myer won the Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award, Hart’s Michael Vella and Muskegon’s Ryan Williams-Follins won leadership awards, Danny Cotter from Grand Haven was given the Nicholas A. VandenBosch Aspiring Physician Scholarship, Reeths-Puffer’s Austin Hughey earned the Terrance J. Williams Aspiring Lawyer Scholarship, Western Michigan Christian’s John Waller received the Overcoming Hardship Award and Muskegon’s Jai’Lyn Thompson received the Need Based Scholarship.
And last, but certainly not least, Shelby cheerleader Stephanie Rood earned the Community Involvement Award.
Waller was smiling from ear to ear after being presented his award. He stopped and thanked me for coming to the game.
Yes, it was a feel good event.
The coaches were raving about the event, which began the previous Sunday with a team meeting. Then it moved into five days of practice throughout the week before culminating in Saturday’s game which attracted about 700 people.
Former Fruitport coach Steve Wilson said he thoroughly enjoyed meeting some of the players on teams he’d faced during the regular season. He said he would have been proud to take that group of players into any gridiron battle on a Friday night during the prep season.
Joe Coletta had a feeling the game would be a hit for everyone involved even though it was a first-year event.
Coletta talked to his players all week about this game being special. He was right.
Thunder, lightning and a heavy downpour certainly kept some people away, but the diehards stuck it out to watch these 70 graduated seniors put on the football gear one more time as a high school player.
See where this all going?
On its way to being not only an annual event, but a highly successful one as well.
Ron Rop is a contributing writer for Local Sports Journal who has covered Muskegon area sports for more than 31 years.