R-P soccer field named after the late Eric Marcil, a passionate player and coach

By Jason Goorman

MUSKEGON TOWSHIP – It’s been 15 years since Eric Marcil passed away from cancer at the age of 25.

But his memory lives on at Reeths-Puffer High School, where he played varsity soccer and later coached the girls and boys varsity teams.LSJ Logo incert

That was obvious on Thursday night, when the school renamed its soccer field in his name – Eric Marcil Field. The dedication ceremony took place before the Rockets’ girls varsity game against Whitehall.

Marcil graduated from Reeths-Puffer in 1992. He died in 2001.

Lynn and Mary Marcil hold plaques in honor of their late son Eric Marcil with recpeiants of the Eric Marcil award. Photo/Jason Goorman

Lynn and Mary Marcil hold plaques in honor of their late son Eric Marcil. Photo/Jason Goorman

He played a major role in helping to transform the former varsity football field into the soccer field that now has his name.

He was also the inspiration for a scholarship that’s awarded annually to a Reeths-Puffer boys and girls soccer player. So far 28 recipients have received more than $16,500 in scholarship money.

“He loved soccer,” the dedication ceremony program said. “He loved to play, to watch, to ref games, but mostly he loved to coach. It was his passion. He started out as an assistant coach, and then moved on to become the girls soccer coach at R-P and then went on to coach the boys.

“He had many highlights in his career as soccer coach at R-P, but none more fulfilling as watching his team play. He wanted the games to be competitive, but also fun. He wanted them to work as a team, but also enjoy the time on the field as a team. His last piece of advice before he sent the team on the field to play was, ‘Remember, I want to see you smile.’”

Marcil’s parents, Lynn and Mary Marcil, attended the ceremony and were touched by the big turnout.

“If you look at the crowd tonight, there are quite a few of his former players here,” Mary Marcil said. “It’s quite a testament to him. We’re kind of overwhelmed with who’s come. It’s pretty special to see everyone wearing the shirts.

“The name of the field is an honor to him. There’s a scholarship in his honor. He’s been a part of the history of this program, and will continue to be. It’s pretty special.”

Muskegon Community College men's soccer coach and Reeths-Puffer teach Ben Ritsema speaks during the ceremony. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon Community College men’s soccer coach and former Reeths-Puffer coach Ben Ritsema speaks during the ceremony. Photo/Jason Goorman

Reeths-Puffer girls soccer coach Jeremy Tjapkes remembered growing up with and playing soccer with Marcil.

“Eric was one of my dear friends,” Tjapkes said. “I grew up with Eric and played ball with Eric. We hung out after high school a lot. Eric was one of the reasons why I got into coaching after watching him get into coaching. Now to coach where Eric also coached has just been an honor.”

Tjapkes said he reminded his players on Thursday about a tree on the north end of the field that was planted in Marcil’s honor.

He said he told the team to “Win one for the big guy. The tree right there is the Eric Marcil tree and it’s always there watching over our field and our players.”

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