Archive for the ‘Lancer Athletic News’ Category

Grimm, Why We Got Him

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

by Stephen Copeland – Sounding Board Staff Writer

If Bruce Grimm Jr. were strictly a basketball player, he wouldn’t be at Grace College. He’d be at East Tennessee State University, the Division I school he transferred from that made it to the NCAA tournament last year. Or he’d be at Sacramento State, University of Hawaii, or IUPUI, schools that heavily recruited him in high school. You have options like that when you score 40 points in the state championship game and set an all-time state championship record for three-pointers (8). He may as well have had “D1” written on his forehead.

But Bruce – although Division I material (he started five times last year for ETSU) – isn’t playing Division I. That’s because his forehead reads something else…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVFhRzCh29Y[/youtube]

“Family Man”

Bruce’s aunt, Angela Mason, remembers Bruce’s father’s (her brother) condition three years ago. He was lying in a hospital bed in his gown, colon removed, kidneys on the verge of shutting down, with salmonella poisoning and pancreatic disease. He was holding a radio wrapped in tin foil out a hospital window so he could pick up reception for the Rochester vs. Tippecanoe Valley basketball game.

“I’m sure in the back of his mind, ‘Junior’ was thinking, ‘Am I going to lose my dad, too?’” Angela said, reflecting on Bruce’s father’s frail physical state.

Considering the nightmare Bruce had experienced already, it wouldn’t have been surprising. In three years, Bruce lost his mother, Debbie, to cancer, moved from Florida to Indiana (a tough transition for a teenage kid) and saw his father nearly end up in a coffin as well. Not to mention, while every other kid was playing with Play-Doh and watching cartoons in elementary school, Bruce was leading his two younger brothers through a complicated separation of his parents – a separation that drove his father into a pit of emotions, making him unemployable and unable to provide financially for his family.

Bruce “just had to grow up really fast,” Angela continued. “I think about the things he went through in his young life…but he has always been able to make a positive out of anything.”

His mother’s passing left Bruce with a choice – a choice that molded him into the man he is today. “People say you can go down two paths when you lose a parent,” Bruce said. “You can take the negative road…but that didn’t connect with me. I value life more. I wanted to do things right.”

If you ask Bruce why he returned to northern Indiana, he’ll tell you it’s because he wanted to be closer to his family, which makes you wonder: What family? His mother is gone, and his father lives 380 miles away in Tennessee. The family he’s referring to, however, is his Aunt Angela, the closest substitute to a mother he’s had. And it was the death of his mother that led him, his brothers and his father to Bourbon, Ind., where his Aunt Angela, Uncle Brad and four cousins (he calls them “sisters”) reside.

“She was just always there for me,” Bruce said, remembering his high school days. “If I needed to come over at two in the morning, she would say that was fine. She was just like any mom. I could talk to her about things. My aunt’s family is more than just an aunt and uncle family. They are my family.”

Whatever it was, the two of them clicked. Maybe it was because Angela understood the type of pressure Bruce was under. After all, Bruce Grimm Sr., a 1973 Indiana All-Star, was her brother.

“After a game, if he (my brother) didn’t score ‘X’ amount of points, you were always scared to be home,” Angela said.

She understood the pain of the pressure because her brother went through it.

“[I told Bruce’s dad] that as long as I’m around, you will never do to him what Dad did to you,” Angela continued. “If he came home tomorrow and said ‘I don’t want to play anymore,’ he is still your son. He (my brother) would cry and realize right away that he means more than basketball. He just didn’t know how to express that very well because that’s all he knew.”

East Tennessee State University transfer Bruce Grimm Jr.

“Friend”

When junior baseball player Nate Wottring saw a private plane fly over Miller Field during a game last spring, it finally hit him: Bruce Grimm Jr. was coming to Grace.
The plane was carrying head coach Jim Kessler and starting post-player Duke Johnson. They were traveling to Tennessee to sign Bruce, Wottring’s close friend from Rochester High School.

And to think that it all started as a joke…

The talk began last November when Bruce told Wottring about his homesickness and discontent at ETSU. “Come to Grace,” Wottring said matter of factly. “We have a good basketball team.”

Never did he imagine he’d actually do it.

Bruce and Wottring continued talking throughout the year. And eventually, Bruce began talking to Wottring’s roommate, Duke Johnson, via Skype – and the two of them got close. Wottring jokes that Skype is the sole reason Bruce is here.

“Back in high school, I never would have dreamt that we would be playing baseball and basketball at the same school,” Wottring said. “Everyone thought he was going D1 for sure. It was a complete joke at first. I just told myself, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’”

When Kessler began talking to Wottring (he couldn’t talk to Bruce because it would violate recruiting pro- cedures), Wottring began to see it. It was still incomprehensible – this was the Indiana Mr. Basketball Runner-up we’re talking about – but it was serious.

“God knew what he was doing when he brought Bruce here,” Wottring said. “I didn’t think it would work out like that, but that’s the way God works. Not only does it speak a lot of Rochester athletics, but it speaks a lot about what God’s master plan is.”

“Hungry”

After Bruce’s mother Debbie’s funeral, Angela remembers one of Bruce’s brothers asking, “What is a church?” Very weird, considering Bruce, having no exposure to church in his childhood, still prayed and recognized the existence of God without his mother or father ever telling him about a deity – without his parents hardly ever taking him to church. But what else can you do when you go through the trials Bruce has experienced? Where else can you turn? Perhaps that is what tragedies do: They make you look up.

“I always was one to pray,” Bruce said. “It was cool to me. Even through the hard times I went through, God was always there for me. I always felt like I was close to Him, but I wanted to know more…”

That’s the other reason Bruce came to Grace – to know more about God.

“Family is why I came back to Indiana,” Bruce said. “And religion and learning more about God is why I came to Grace.”

Bruce Grimm Jr. just happens to play basketball, too.

This article was originally printed in the October 1, 2010 issue of The Sounding Board.

The Blevins Connection

Friday, October 15th, 2010

by Zane Gard, Sounding Board Staff Writer

Forget the Miami Heat. Grace men’s tennis has landed its own Big Three.

Hailing from Vancouver, Wash., are Michael Blevins, Aaron Blevins, and Jack Wang. While Michael may not be LeBron James and Winona Lake might never pass for South Beach, there is much to be excited about for the men’s tennis team.

The Blevins brothers and Wang met at a junior tournament called the Adidas Cup at the beginning of high school in 2006. During warm-ups, the players started talking and formed a friendship that would continue throughout their time together at the same high school. They had no idea where that friendship would take them then.

Four years later, all three are playing together at Grace. Last year, Michael came to Grace to help the program as a player, following his parents’ and brother’s footsteps, who also played tennis at Grace. Aaron an Wang joined him this year, mostly because of outstanding recruiting. Recruiting by Michael, that is.

Michael made sure to let his brother know where he should go to school. “He texted me almost every day saying, ‘Are you coming to Grace yet?’” Aaron said. Aaron soon gave in and decided to join his brother at Grace, completing the second of three steps in the process.

Wang, on the other hand, could have gone to Western Washington University to study art. “Trying to decide which college to go to for me was like watching a fat kid deciding between a Twinkie and a donut,” Wang joked. While still talking frequently with Michael, he was convinced to apply to Grace, which he “didn’t even consider” at first. While head coach Larry Schuh said he “didn’t really have to do much recruiting,” Wang said he too played an instrumental part in his coming, calling frequently to check up on him.

The climax of the recruiting process was when Michael convinced Wang to come visit Grace over his spring break. Wang left Grace impressed by how nice the people were, and after visiting Washington later, he saw the difference between the students. Wang decided to go with the Blevins brothers to play tennis at Grace.

The Blevins brothers and Wang bring a history of success with them to Grace. While playing together at the Vancouver Tennis Center in high school, Aaron and Wang went two straight years together without a team loss, and all three went Michael’s senior year without a team loss. After being district and league champions for three consecutive years, they wanted to see how well they would be together at the next level.

The goal of this Big Three is to turn Grace tennis into a top-25 program, win conference, and qualify for the NAIA tournament on a team and individual level.

“Coach Schuh convinced me that we will make nationals while I’m here,” Aaron said. The added accountability of having each other in practice allows them to know how to push and encourage each other.

This past season was somewhat of a disappointment for the Washington trio. Michael, who won the MCC singles tournament last year, missed time this year with ankle injuries. Wang and Aaron also had to play while battling illness. The goal of winning the conference will not happen this year after Grace lost to Indiana Wesleyan 5-4 in the MCC tournament, and was plagued with ankle injuries throughout the season. Despite losing, the players are ready to focus on next year and the promising future ahead of them.

Over 2,000 miles away, the friends have been a piece of home away from home. Scenic mountains and rivers of Washington have been replaced with Indiana’s flatlands. This is even as far east as Wang has been, who admitted to feeling homesick sometimes during the longest stint he has been away.

It is here in northern Indiana that the friendship of three West Coast tennis players has come. This new tennis trio from Washington has the potential to accomplish things never done before for Grace’s tennis program. Hopefully their success from high school carries over.

This story was published in the October 15 edition of Grace’s student newspaper, The Sounding Board.

The Pennsylvania Trio

Friday, October 15th, 2010

by Stephen Copeland, Sounding Board Staff Writer

The Pennsylvania triumvirate came to Winona Lake on a whim – because for some of them, Grace College was the last thing on their minds.

The PA Pact knew one another before they got here. Joel Bartholomew and Devin Kemmerer (Faith Christian graduates) had played against Emmanuel Lumbayi (Liberty graduate) in high school, which is crazy in itself considering the size differential in the schools. The three of them also knew Grace’s men’s soccer head coach Matt Hotchkin from a recruiting visit he made to Pennsylvania in April.

Their futures, however, were already seemingly decided. Lumbayi was supposed to attend preseason with Div. II Bloomsburg University; Bartholomew was highly considering NCAA Div. III Geneva College; and Kemmerer was pretty set on NCAA Div. III Widener University.

It looked as if the three Pennsylvania boys would end up at three different Pennsylvania schools – but three radical last-minute decisions brought them together in northern Indiana, of all places.

Emmanuel Lumbayi

Hotchkin’s complicated string of connections to Pennsylvania are as long as Christ’s genealogy in Matthew 1 – so it’s going to go unexplained. All Lumbayi knows is that he was playing FIFA in his basement when his best friend and probable 2011 Lancer Marcus Sherper (just YouTube him and prepare to be wowed) came down to get him.

“There’s a coach here to see us,” Sherper said. So Sherper and Lumbayi walked outside, hopped in the car and met what-would-be their future coach, Matt Hotchkin.

Of the Pennsylvania crew, Hotchkin felt most confident about Lumbayi coming to Grace. Lumbayi’s decision, however, is still incomprehensible to most.

Without stepping on campus and without even getting accepted, the Liberty grad committed to the Lancer program. He knew nothing about the school and nothing about Indiana. Literally, nothing.

“My mom said, ‘Where is Grace College?’” Lumbayi recalled. “I said, ‘It’s toward Texas…Probably the reason why I have a C in geography.”

Lumbayi managed to avoid any departures to San Antonio, thanks to Google, and found himself flying to a place that, from the research he gathered, was rampant with corn (a strange transition for a city boy) and was the home of the KKK (not real encouraging for a Congo native).

And that’s all he knew.

“You really have to trust God with your life for you to make a last minute decision as such as one I made,” Lumbayi said. “I have never looked at soccer as a way to glorify God until I played for Grace.”

Joel Bartholomew

Toward the end of each summer, most high school graduates go into freak-out mode as they prepare for their freshman year at college. Not Bartholomew and Kemmerer, however. They couldn’t prepare because they were still going on campus visits. Redefining procrastination.

Hotchkin had called Bartholomew throughout the summer but could never get a straight answer. On the brink of giving up on the Faith Christian duo, Hotchkin stopped contacting them for a week and a half – then decided to make one last phone call in July.

“I just kind of went with the flow,” Bartholomew said. “He (Hotchkin) called me, so I went with it. For some reason, I just felt led to come out.”

So there they were, two kids making the painstaking (although Joel claims that Devin slept the whole time) 10-hour drive to northern Indiana just two weeks before Grace’s preseason soccer festivities began. “I don’t know why, but we were just like, ‘Let’s go check it out,’” Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew was never exactly psyched about playing for Geneva, the frontrunner of schools he was considering. But God provided a school for Bartholomew and a steady player for Hotchkin that has started in all 11 games this season.

“It was God’s will for me to be out here,” Bartholomew continued. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have driven out here. It just took a lot of faith to be okay with it and realize that this is where God wants me to be.”

Devin Kemmerer

When Kemmerer got a phone call from Bartholomew late in the summer about visiting Grace College, he had to have thought his best friend was sniffing glue.

“I was like, ‘Probably not. I already have my school,’” Kemmerer laughed, considering the ridiculousness of the situation.

Right when he hung up with Bartholomew, Hotchkin called. And before he knew it, Kemmerer was making the journey, too, traveling to Grace College with Bartholomew to see a coach that he hardly even remembered.

Just getting the two of them to merely visit was huge for Hotchkin, considering the predicament he was in. Darrell Goff, last year’s leader in goals and assists, was not returning to Grace, and Sherper (Lumbayi’s best friend) could not play in the fall. Offensively, the Lancers were hurting.

And Kemmerer was the solution. Through 11 games, he leads the Lancers in goals (4), assists (3), points (11) and has already earned his first collegiate hat trick.

“It took a lot of faith,” Kemmerer said. “I’d never even heard of Winona Lake. And I’d never been to Indiana. It was pretty crazy. God definitely planned that.”

Despite the whirlwind of the last few months, the Pennsylvania Trio is here…somehow.

“They trusted me to a large extent with this whole idea of coming out here,” Hotchkin said. “And they trusted the Lord with the whole process. That type of faith and comfort in trying something new – those are the type of players you can really build a program around.”

Whether it’s switching colleges weeks before, driving 10-hours to meet up with a coach you can hardly remember, or booking a flight to a campus you’ve only seen on your computer screen, it was faith that brought the Pennsylvania trio to Grace.

Faith the size of Texas.

This story was published in the October 15 Edition of Grace’s student newspaper, The Sounding Board.

Grace to Play at Conseco Fieldhouse

Friday, September 24th, 2010

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – After taking on NCAA Division I Indiana University last season at Assembly Hall, the Grace College men’s basketball team will play at Conseco Fieldhouse on Nov. 16, 2010. The Lancers will take on Indiana University-Southeast at the conclusion of an NBA game featuring the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks at Conseco, one of the finest facilities in the sports world. The Pacers game is set to start at 7 p.m.

“We are excited for this opportunity to play at one of the top facilities in Indiana,” said Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe. “This will be a tremendous experience for our program to play in the heart of basketball country.”

Indiana University-Southeast made it to the quarterfinals at the NAIA National Championship in Branson, Mo., last spring, beating Spring Arbor University 58- 54 in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16. The Grenadiers also won their conference tournament (Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), defeating Brescia 78-71 in the championship.

The Lancers were picked to finish second in the MCC this season. “Not only will it be a cool experience to play at Conseco, but it should be a competitive game as well,” said Grace head coach Jim Kessler. “Our team is honored to be involved in this game. We are looking forward to representing our school and our team in front of a large audience.”

By purchasing a ticket to the Pacers’ game, spectators will receive admission to the Grace game as well. Those interested in purchasing a ticket can contact the Grace athletic office at (574) 372- 5100 x6266.

Grace kicks off their season against Andrews University on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. The homecoming game against Ohio University Eastern will be on Nov. 6.

This article was originally printed in the September 24, 2010 issue of The Sounding Board.

Bracelets to Support Mohr and Kastner Families

Friday, September 24th, 2010

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – The Grace Athletic Department is selling bracelets to raise financial support for the families of Jeremy Mohr and Mallori Kastner. Bracelets are $5 apiece and should go on sale this Friday. All proceeds go to the Mohr family to assist them with the medical bills throughout Jeremy’s recovery.

“Along with our prayers and support, we also want to help the Mohr family on a financial level,” said athletic director Chad Briscoe. “This is a great opportunity for the Grace community to help relieve the Mohr family’s stress during this unexplainable tragedy.”

The bracelets that go on sale this Friday are red and read “JM” on one side and “MK” on the opposite side.  “1 Cor. 9:24-26” will also be included on the braclet, the verse Jeremy chose for the Grace Intramural Program’s vision this year. 1 Cor. 9:24-26 reads: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.”

Wildman Corporate Apparel, located in Warsaw, is producing the bracelets, and generously covering the cost of the rush order. The bracelet orders following the rush order will have white lettering on a red bracelet. Families of the volleyball players are covering the cost of the bracelet production. Justin Oren and TJ Lynch, suitemates of Jeremy, are pioneering the fundraising campaign.

Bracelets will first go on sale at the women’s volleyball game on Friday evening, their first match since the tragedy. Grace plays Huntington at 7 p.m. You can also purchase bracelets through Grace’s Athletic Department or make a donation through Jere- my’s CaringBridge Web site: www.caringbridge.org/visit/ jeremy mohr. Visit www.mohrtogive.com to order a bracelet through his home church.

This article was originally printed in the September 24, 2010 issue of The Sounding Board.

Kastner Remembered on Volleyball Uniforms

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – The Grace College volleyball team will remember their freshman teammate, Mallori Kastner, by wearing a special insignia on their uniforms the remainder of the season. The insignia has Mallori’s initials “MK” stitched in white on a black circular patch located on the left side of the chest. “Mallori’s joy for life and impact on this volleyball pro- gram and campus will forever be remembered,” said head coach Andria Harshman. “This is just a small way to honor her legacy and a visible reminder that she is still a part of this team.”

Wildman Corporate Apparel, located in Warsaw, is producing the patch and covering all costs in support of Grace Athletics. “We are very thankful for Matt Churchill and Wildman Apparel’s support of Grace Athletics,” said athletic director Chad Briscoe. “We appreciate their support and generosity during this trying time on campus and in the community.”

Other teams are also planning to show their support of Kastner in some fashion during their seasons. The Grace women’s soccer team wore orange headbands, Mallori’s favorite color, in their home match against Indiana Tech on Wednesday. No player will wear the No. 7 jersey throughout the remainder of the 2010 volleyball season. There will be discussions at a later time about retiring her number. “It’s a wonderful way to honor her,” Harshman said. “The ensignias are a way to outwardly show our thankfulness of Mallori and the Kastner family. We are thankful for her legacy as a teammate, hallmate, and member of our Athletic Department.”

The insignias will be on display on Friday when Grace takes the floor for the first time since last Friday’s tragedy. The Lady Lancers will play Huntington at 7 p.m. at the OCC. Fans are encouraged to wear orange in support of Mallori.

This article was originally printed in the September 24, 2010 issue of The Sounding Board.

NINE INDUCTED INTO LANCER ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
New members of the Lancer Athletics Hall of Fame are (front, left to right) Eve Dawes, Willa Henry, Cheryl Pulver, Gary Woolman, Tim Van Duyne, (back row, left to right) Rebecca Macy, Ron Henry, John Boal, Jim Woolman, and Darrell Johnson

New members of the Lancer Athletic Hall of Fame are (front, left to right) Eve Dawes, Willa Henry, Cheryl Pulver, Gary Woolman, Tim Van Duyne, (back row, left to right) Rebecca Macy, Ron Henry, John Boal, Jim Woolman, and Darrell Johnson

Grace College inducted nine members into the Lancer Athletic Hall of Fame November 7. The inductees honored at the banquet in the Orthopaedic Capital Center include: Rebecca Macy (Wahlstrom), volleyball; John Boal, men’s basketball; Darrell Johnson, baseball and golf; Eve Dawes (Arthur), women’s soccer; Cheryl Pulver (Myers), women’s basketball; Tim VanDuyne, men’s soccer; Lloyd Woolman, athletic director and coach; and Ron and Willa Henry, for their meritorious service to Grace Athletics.

Macy was an NAIA All-American (‘95), MCC Player of the Year (‘95), and two-time NCCAA All-American (‘95, ‘96) for volleyball.

Boal was a two-time NAIA District 21 Player of the Year (‘83, ‘84), NAIA All-American Honorable Mention (‘84) and two-time NCCAA All-American (‘83, ‘84) for men’s basketball. During his speech, he spoke about his bond with fellow teammates and the lessons that 33-year veteran head coach Jim Kessler taught him.

Johnson was named MCC All-Conference  (’73) for baseball and MCC Golf Coach of the Year (’97). He also holds Grace College’s pitching records with wins in both career and season, as well as single season ERA. Johnson pitched in the very first game at Grace College’s Miller Field, and as a long-time faculty member, he has enjoyed seeing Lancer Athletics evolve over the years.

Dawes was an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention (’99), NCCAA All-American (’97, ’98, ’99) and MCC All-Conference (’96-’99) for women’s soccer. She also holds the individual records for goals and points in a career.

Pulver was a two-time NAIA District 21 All-American (’91, ’92), NCCAA All-American (’92) and two-time MCC All-Conference (’91, ‘92) for women’s basketball; and Van Duyne was an NAIA All-American (’76), NAIA All-American Honorable Mention (’78) and MCC All-Conference (’76-’79) for men’s soccer.

The late Lloyd Woolman was also honored. Woolman won four MCC track and field championships, and an MCC soccer title as a coach.  Woolman also served as athletic director and he helped institute Grace’s track and field, cross country, baseball, tennis, golf and soccer programs. Woolman’s two sons were in attendance to accept the award.

Ron and Willa Henry were also honored for their meritorious service to Grace Athletics. Ron has been a faculty member for over 50 years, and he was the public address announcer at Lancer games and Warsaw High School games for a number of years. Willa has also been named Warsaw teacher of the year.

“We want to thank those individuals who have brought much distinction and honor to Grace College and have established a tradition of Christian excellence which is incomparable,” said Grace Athletic Director Chad Briscoe. “These achievements have touched everyone associated with Grace College both in and out of the arena of athletics.”

Join The Grace Lancers Athletic Club

Monday, August 4th, 2008

The Grace College Lancers Athletic Club is composed of individuals who have a desire to help support and continue to build the Athletic Department at Grace College.

The Lancers Athletic Club supports the primary goal of the college, which is the spiritual, intellectual, and physical development of its students and alumni, and provides its members the opportunity to foster and maintain relationships across different sports, generations, and geographical locations. Through the common bond of sport, the club contributes to the social and professional enrichment of its members and an ongoing association with the college.

Today, the Athletic Department sponsors 14 varsity sports in both men’s and women’s athletics.

Join the Grace College Lancers Athletic Club today and help continue the rich tradition of Grace College Athletics! For more information, click here (pdf file).