By Nate Thompson

MUSKEGON – For someone who’s only known the Scarlet and Gray of Spring Lake for basically his entire life, fans will have to tolerate if Cavin Mohrhardt accidentally calls his new employer by the wrong name.

“I’ve been reminded quite often that it’s Western Michigan Christian,” Mohrhardt said with a chuckle. “I’ve been known to call them West Michigan Christian.”

Mohrhardt stepped in as WMC’s new athletic director after Christmas break, replacing Kurt Gruppen, who sought a different role in an effort to spend more time with his family.

Western Michigan Christian interim Athletic Director, Cavin Mohrhardt, led Spring Lake athletics for over 30 years before coming out of retirment to aid the Warriors. Photo/Jason Goorman

As Mohrhardt knows quite well, an athletic director’s job is very time consuming, with their ultimate effort trying to make each sport at their respective school feel like it’s the most important. He strived to achieve that at Spring Lake for the past 18 years.

Mohrhardt spent 34 years overall at Spring Lake as a teacher, AD and coach. He coached football, varsity basketball and for the last five years, varsity girls basketball.

“This was my first winter being retired and I was feeling pretty restless,” Mohrhardt admitted. “But being off in the spring and summer was nice.”

But when he heard Gruppen was stepping down, Mohrhardt’s son, Christian, who is a history and social studies teacher at WMC, as well as the assistant athletic director, let school administrators know his dad may be interested.

Cavin Mohrhardt said he received a call just before Christmas from WMC high school principal, Pastor Samuel Greer, to gauge his interest in the position.

“People probably think I’m crazy for getting back into it, but it seemed like the right time,” Mohrhardt said.

Christian Mohrhardt is a history and social studies teacher at WMC as well as the assistant AD. Photo/Jason Goorman

Working side-by-side with his son was a definite perk as well, Mohrhardt said, although there wasn’t much of a need for him to be mentored.

“He’s lived with it for the past 20-some years, so he knows what the job is all about,” Mohrhardt said. “I know he’s not interested in becoming the full-time AD. He just got married and he sees the time you need to dedicate to it. He loves coaching and teaching and likes dedicating his time to that.”

Although it’s been a seamless transition so far, Mohrhardt stressed his tenure won’t last long at WMC. After the spring sports season wraps up, Mohrhardt said he’ll help get the fall and winter schedules finalized for the following year and get the school’s new athletic director up to speed. He hopes his successor is in place by late May or early June.

“WMC is going to be an independent,” he said. “They’re no longer going to be in the Lakes Eight Conference, so scheduling as an independent is a lot harder because you don’t have those conference schools to fill up your schedule.”

Mohrhardt, 63, who graduated from Spring Lake in 1976 and later served with the U.S. Marines, said despite being a quarter of the size of Spring Lake enrollment-wise, WMC has almost the same number of varsity sports.

“They have good programs and that’s one thing that Pastor Greer stressed. They want to continue to excel,” Mohrhardt said. “There’s a lot of great people there and a lot of support in all of their sports.”

Cavin Mohrhardt hands Spring Lake baseball Coach Bill Core the 2016 district title during Mohrhardt’s tenure at Spring Lake. Photo/Carol Cooper

The biggest difference, he said, is he has yet to build countless lasting relationships like he did at Spring Lake.

“It’s not just the team, the biggest thing is making every kid feel important,” Morhardt said. “If the program believes that, then everyone else will too. And that’s been the toughest thing. In 34 years, I knew every single kid in the school. Here, I haven’t had that time in the halls to get to know everyone. Right now, I’m just another stranger on the sidelines.”