Tuscan’s path to GHS

by Jake Fontaine

There’s a new face here at GHS.

You know, that bald, middle-aged man with the barrel-chested physique who comfortably struts around the halls with his sweatpants, sweatshirt, sweat-everything attire and a whistle hanging around his neck? Well, that’s him: John (Coach) Tuscan, the new Physical Education teacher at Grandville High School.

When Tuscan’s wife was offered a corporate position at the Walker Meijer, Tuscan and his family moved up here from their previous home in Charlotte, North Carolina. After several job offers, he decided that the position at Grandville was the perfect fit.

“I narrowed it down between Grandville and Jenison. I could’ve been the Dean of Students at Jenison, but I really wanted to teach PE,” says Tuscan. “Here, I get to teach gym and weight lifting classes, as well as coach on the side. It’s a great gig.” image

Tuscan currently helps coach all levels of the football and baseball teams, primarily working with running backs and hitters. While in North Carolina, he served as the head varsity baseball coach for 9 years at South Mecklenburg high school, even winning a state title in 2013.

Despite 2013 being a year of triumph for Tuscan, he was also faced with the biggest obstacle in his life thus far: testicular cancer.

In the spring of that year, Tuscan’s dog, Mick, a hound mix, jumped on his lap while he was watching television. He instantly felt a sharp pain and fell to floor.

“I felt like someone kneed me in the groin,” Tuscan recalls.

The pain continued for the next week. After seeing four different doctors, Tuscan was eventually diagnosed with testicular cancer and would need surgery and aggressive treatment immediately.

“As a 29 year old sitting in a room from 8 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon with a needle in your arm going through chemo treatment and witnessing people who aren’t going to make, it really puts things into perspective,” says Tuscan.

He is currently cancer free and is in great health, giving gratitude to his dog for this.

“If Mick wouldn’t have jumped on my lap that night, who knows when the tumor would’ve been found. He saved my life.”

Tuscan’s goal as weight-lifting teacher and coach is to provide the best athlete possible through strength training, speed training, and putting athletes in difficult situations that will replicate adversity in a big game.

Spencer Notenbaum, one of the students Tuscan has in class as well as coaches after school, praises Tuscan and his coaching ability.

“He definitely pushes me in the weightroom and on the field,” Notenbaum says. “He’s one of the funniest coaches I’ve ever had, but when it’s time to work we get down to it.”

Eric Stiegel, the head varsity football coach at GHS, has similar praise regarding Tuscan and his coaching mentality.

“I love the jobs he’s doing here,” Stiegel acclaims. “He’s definitely one of–if not the most–important assets to the [football] team’s success next year and for years to come.”

Tuscan has one piece of advice for the students of Grandville:

“Don’t take things for granted, especially at Grandville. You never know when things will change. We have great coaches and a great facility here. Kids all around America would do anything to have the things we do here, so don’t take advantage of it.”

New coach and pre-seaon prep for track team

by Luna Johnston

Track season begins on Monday, March 12th. With the season quickly approaching it’s expected that athletes have already began conditioning.

“It is a very small window from our first practice to our first track meet,” Coach Kirkland said. “Coming in with preparation for the cardiovascular and physical aspect will help greatly.”

In past years, there has always been a group that does pre-season workouts together but this year athletes are expected to perform workouts by themselves. Matija Saarenheimovanderhorst participated in pre-season conditioning in past years, but has had to change her methods.

“Not having a preseason does stress me out a little,” Saarenheimovanderhorst said. “But I’ve been doing other workouts that previous coaches have taught me.”

Saarenheimovanderhorst’s goal this track season is to focus on discus. She had a twenty foot jump last year and if she has another, she could compete in states which is her main goal.


Other new changes are forthcoming this track season, including the new head coach, John Ybarra. Ybarra has a history of coaching at Yale and has several accomplishments of his own as a thrower. He was a 2012 US Olympic Trials competitor and he finished fifth at the 2011 USA Indoor National Track and Field Championships and finished 2010 ranked in the top 20 in the shot put in the United States.

Co-coach Kirkland works with the girls track team, she has an extensive history with the sport and has been a coach for eighteen years.

“Coaching track and field has been a wonderful journey for me over the past 18 years” Kirkland said. “I am still a little giddy when we get to walk out onto the track for the first time each season.”

In highschool, Ms. Kirkland was a sprinter, participating in the 400m dash and several relays including the 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m. As a junior her 4x100m relay team broke the school record and it still stands today!

“Sports has always been in my blood,” she said. “Track was one of my favorite sports to participate in when I was in high school.”


Freddy vs. EK: The Rivalry

by Emily Sarjeant

He was talked up to be an amazing high school basketball player. He was said to have perfect shots, amazing dribbling skills and sped up and down the court. But he was a transfer student, so he had to be benched for part of the season.

Frederick Baker, junior and starting guard on the Grandville varsity basketball team transferred this year from East Kentwood. His first game playing for the Dawgs was on January 26 at home. versus, oddly enough, the Falcons of East Kentwood, Bakers old team.


Baker shoots a free-throw during his first game playing for Grandville and against his previous team, the East Kentwood Falcons.

Most people would imagine that the transition alone would be a challenge for him and on top of that playing against your old team and boys you called family for your first game of the season.

“The transition wasn’t easy at first, but it helped that everyone accepted me and offered help if I needed it,” Baker said. “East Kentwood and Grandville are two different worlds, but the love and unconditional support from the Grandville community won me over.”

The Dawgs won over East Kentwood, 73-67. This was a huge win for the team and the Grandville community is proud of these boys.

Bakers presence at this game helped the Dawgs come out on top. Senior and Varsity captain Ethan Rycenga noticed Bakers determination to beat his old team.

“He brought the intensity and we could tell that he wanted to beat his old team,” said Rycenga. “It made the rest of the team want it more too.”

The whole team was striving to defeat the falcons and they did exactly that.

“We knew it was a big night for Freddy, and we all wanted to support and be there for him to help him achieve his goal,” Rycenga added.

The Dawgs play the Falcons again tonight, February 23 at East Kentwood.


Bowling coaches speak on the challenges of the job

by Levi Houtman

Every coach experiences the major amount of difficulties that they experience as the season continues on. Each coach needs to motivate, support, and provide for each of their players needs.

This is easier said than done. Different types of players introduce different obstacles coaches need to overcome to keep the team on track. Coaching takes time, practice, motivation, determination, and careful planning so no mistake is costly. People overlook the barriers that coaches go through, and typically blame them for everything a team does incorrectly.

I spoke with Mike Eaton, who currently coaches Davenport University’s DII bowling team, and had coached for Grandville’s Varsity bowling team for the past few years, to get his insight on the difficulties that coaches go through each year.

Q: What are some difficulties you go experience when preparing for an upcoming season?
“From previous years, you gain experience on what you can expect. Trying to predict what types of players will be on the team.”

Q: What are some ways you’re able to keep your players healthy throughout the season? 

“Not overworking them. Bowling isn’t the most physically demanding sport, but regardless of sport, having your guys healthy is very important.

Q: What do you do if they’re having trouble in school?

A:  “If one of my players is struggling in school, I’d have them focus on their schoolwork because it’ll get them farther in life.”

Q: What are some of the barriers that you experience as the season progresses and how do you continue on past them?
“Players motivation sometimes begins to go on a downfall. Trying to keep them motivated, and constantly having them improving their shot.”

Q: As the season continues how do you keep your players on track? Having a major goal in mind?

“Tell them the importance of what they’re currently doing and how it could help them on later in life. You’d be surprised what bowling can do for you.”

To get more in depth on what others think about the difficulties coaches go through when overseeing a team, I spoke with Christian Lubbers who was on Grandville’s bowling team for the 2016-2017 season to get his thoughts on coaches barriers.

Q: What do you think is the most challenging thing coaches go through?

“Keeping all of their players on track throughout the season. Having a large number of players that you have to keep watch on and knowing on what areas they can improve on seems difficult to me.”

Q: Do you think coaches or overlooked or underlooked?

“I believe that most people today don’t see the difficulties that they go through so under looked. They don’t see the difficulties that they go through in order to operate a large team.”

Wrestling back for another strong season

by Kenny Champion

Every year the Grandville wrestling team roster always seems to have a few wrestlers that are ranked, no matter how many seniors they lose. They still continue to produce great wrestlers who have the ability to compete at a higher level than most. We’ve interviewed Coach Bubba Gritter, Coach Aaron Grifhorst, and Jake Paganelli (varsity ranked wrestler). 

How long have you been coaching?

Coach Gritter, the varsity head coach, has been a wrestling coach for 10 years two of those years were at the college level. Coach Grifhorst, the middle school head coach, has been coaching for 16 years. He has been at Grandville for 15 years, and 14 of those years were at the middle school level. He also coached at Lakeshore Middle School in Grand Haven where they had their first undefeated season in the history of their program.

What do you teach at a young level to get successful wrestlers in the long run?

Coach Grifhorst views middle school wrestling only as a stepping stone to get young wrestlers prepared for high school.

“I really don’t care about wins or losses or if we have undefeated seasons. My goal is to make sure each wrestler has the right building blocks to help them be successful in high school wrestling.”

In 16 years of coaching, Coach Grifhorst hasn’t had a losing season or really even close to having a losing record. Coach Gritter believes that if he can instill a good work ethic into his wrestlers and continuously test their ability to compete, then they’ll be successful wrestlers. Both coaches agree heavily that wrestlers need to perfect the basic positioning, moves, and wrestling knowledge before learning more advanced moves.

Do you practice the same series of techniques all the way up to the varsity level?

Usually, each coach typically has his own specialties and methods for teaching technique. However, they do try to align with one another. Coach Grifhorst tries his best to ensure the moves and even the names of moves to match up with the High School as much as possible to have a seamless transition into the High School program.

Why is the experience so important in wrestling? Coach Gritter says that in order to be successful, wrestlers have to be able to feel when moves are available in live matches, and trying things is the only way to really know whats right and wrong.  Jake Paganelli is currently ranked 8th in the state at 171 pounds he has been wrestling for 10 years and started when he was 7 years old.  Even though his wrestling career isn’t over yet, even he knows that without experience it is hard to get success. Without experience and knowing how to work your way through positions and take given opportunities during a match, a wrestlers success is limited.