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Brian Busen – Athlete

Brian won nine varsity letters participating in football, basketball, baseball and track at Rockford High School before graduating in 1994. He was all conference and all area in football as a receiver, track and baseball and all state in football and track. He won many team awards and set a school record in the 400 meter run (49.71). At Ferris State Brian lettered four years in football playing on teams that won 42 regular season games. He was an all-conference performer in the GLIAC and upon graduation was listed in the all-time top ten in several receiver categories. He went to Cedar Springs High School as a Physical Education teacher and assistant football coach under Jim Gallery, then took over as the head varsity football coach for nine years. In 2000 Cedar had only their second winning season in twenty years and made the playoffs for the first time. He also coached girl’s J.V. golf at Cedar and was an assistant track coach at Rockford High School for one year. On his fortieth birthday, he competed in and finished an Ironman Race in Muskota, Canada. Brian presently teaches business and Physical Education classes at Cedar springs High School. He and his wife, Kara (Lamoreaux – 1992 RHS graduate), who is a teacher at Greenville, have three children, Britten (13), Gunnar (11) and Graden (9) who all attend schools in the Rockford system.

Andrew Martin – Athlete/Coach

Andrew Martin was a four-year varsity letter athlete on the Rockford Cross Country and Track and Field teams. He was a six-time All-Conference athlete in the OK Red. He helped his team to State Finals Runner-up finishes in 1997, 1998, and 1999 in Cross Country as he placed in the top 20 both his junior and senior year to earn All-State honors. In addition, he helped the Ram Track and Field team to State Finals Runner-up finishes in 1998, 1999, and a 3rd place finish in 2000. His 3200m relay team placed 2nd in 2000, in addition to his individual 7th place finish in the 1600m run. Both races helped him earn All-State honors. Martin competed in the 400m, 800m, 1600m, and 3200m runs. He and fellow teammates set school records in the 3200m relay, Distance Medley relay, and 4xMile relay, the latter two being Michigan state records at the time. The DMR and 4xMile teams and members won both events at Nationals two years in a row and earned four All-American honors. Martin came back to his alma mater in 2004 to coach the sports he loved after competing for and graduating from the University of Michigan. In his 12 years coaching Men’s Cross Country, Martin has guided his teams to 12 OK Red Conference titles (3 as an assistant), 6 Regional titles, and 12 State Finals appearances. Three of those appearances have been top 15 performances, five top 10 finishes, two 3rd place finishes, and two State Championships (2014, 2015). As either an assistant or head coach of the Men’s Track and Field team, Martin has helped cultivate 3 OK Red titles, 6 Regional Championships, a 3rd place State Finals finish in 2011, and a Runner-up finish in 2016. While under his watch, twelve student athletes have broken school records and five have earned All-American honors.

Joel Visser – Athlete

Joel was an outstanding three sport athlete at Rockford High School competing in football, basketball and baseball. He was the recipient of the Paula Banfield Memorial Scholarship in 2003 and was also the high school Male Athlete of the Year. He was on the 2003 MHSAA Division 1 state championship basketball team and all area and all conference performer in football and baseball. He was a member of the Honor Society. He went on to play baseball at the University of Toledo captaining the team during two seasons. After college graduation he went into the educational/coaching field. He is presently teaching physical education and is the very successful head basketball coach at Tippecanoe High School which is located in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio. In 2016 he was the Division 2 – District 9 basketball coach of the year and coached in the Ohio North/South All Star game. He and his wife, Jessica, live in Troy, Ohio with their two-year old daughter Sydney. They are expecting another daughter in late September.

Douglas Ward – Athlete/Community Member

Doug Ward was a 1967 graduate of Rockford High School where he participated in football and golf. He practically grew up on Silver Lake Golf Course where his father Howard was a member. Often he would caddie for Jim DeRyke who played often with Doug’s dad. When golf became a conference sport unofficially in 1964 Coach DeRyke became the coach and knew that Doug could play. In 1965 the sport became recognized by the conference, and the team won the Tri-River Conference the next three years and never lost a conference match. Doug was a varsity performer all three years. In 1967 the team finished the year with 18 wins and 1 loss. Doug was consistently one of the low scorers and was a steady influence on John Heible who won the state championship one year. After graduation, he was invited to join the Michigan State golf team, but instead he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was wounded and spent four months in the hospital where doctors were able to save his leg, but he still suffers shrapnel pain. For over forty years, Doug has been a barber in Rockford and has been very supportive of Rockford athletics as a community member. He has helped the Sports Boosters and has supported the “Rockford Athlete of the Week” section at times in the local paper. He is active in local government and has supported projects like the new museum.

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Bob Christensen – Coach

During his 29 years of coaching at Rockford High School Bob was a positive influence in the sports of track, basketball and boy’s golf. From 1966-69 he was an assistant track coach when the Rams were in the Tri-River Conference. After second place finishes in the league his first two years, the team won the title in 1968 and 1969. In 1969 he began a five year stint (69-73) as the ninth grade basketball coach. Then from 1985-1996 he returned to the program as the junior varsity coach. For eleven years (1974-83) Bob was the boys’ varsity golf coach winning the conference crown in 1980. He won the MHSAA regional title in 1975 and 1980 and his teams competed in the state meet five times during his eleven years. Bob and his wife Kathy both taught in the Rockford School system. Their children Mike and Tracy were Rockford athletes and graduates. Bob and Kathy are retired and still live in Rockford where both are active members of the Rockford Area Historical Society.

Chris Whitten – Athlete

Chris Whitten, who graduated from Rockford High School in 1998, grew up with golf being part of his life. His father, Buddy Whitten, was the head golf professional at Blythefield Country Club and Director of Instruction at Pensacola Country Club in Florida. Chris served as a part time caddy for his father on the PGA Senior tour in 1997. Chris was a four year varsity golfer in high school. He was voted most improved golfer as a ninth grader and was the team MVP as a sophomore. He was all conference as a junior and senior. His senior year the golf team won the Kent County Invitational, finished first at the regional and placed third at the state meet. After graduation Chris lettered in golf at Notre Dame all four years and then was an assistant golf there for two years. Starting in 2006 he became an assistant at the University of Michigan for five years before becoming the head coach, a position he still holds today, in 2011. He and his wife, Doctor Amy Whitten, who works at Beaumont Hospital, reside in Novi, Michigan along with their children, Graham and Lucas.

Jimmy Shutich – Athlete

When Jimmy Shutich finished his four year wrestling career at Rockford High School in 2003 he had 166 victories and 6 losses. He was undefeated in his junior and senior seasons (75-0) winning two Division 1 state championships. He was a three time conference champion and a four time district and regional winner. Four times he made the all-area wrestling Dream Team; was team captain and MVP and was academic all state. He continued wrestling at the University of Michigan where he started for two seasons and lettered in three. He finished with a degree in Kinesiology with a major in Movement Science. Currently he lives in Encinitas, California working in the medical sales industry. He also coaches wrestling technique to aspiring JIU-Jitsu and MMA fighter athletes at Studio 540 in Salano Beach, California.

Michael Redell – Athlete

Michael Redell played three years of varsity basketball for the Rams. In 2003 he was a major force in Rockford not only winning the conference title, but in going undefeated for the entire season. He helped spark the team to a state MHSAA Class A state championship. He was a three time OK Red all conference performer and an all-state performer for two years. He played four years of college basketball beginning at Cleveland State (Freshman year) and finishing at Western Michigan for three years. As a sophomore, he led the MAC Conference in assists. He started almost every game in his college career. WMU was crowned either MAC champs or Co West Mac Champs each year that Michael was on the team. Michael spent two years (2011-13) volunteering in Bolivia where he started and administered a program called “Beyond The Game” that taught a variety of sports with emphasis on teaching how athletics can positively effect a persons’ life. He said “My time in Bolivia was one of the most impacting times on my life.” Last season he took over the position of varsity basketball coach at Belding High School where he also works in an alternative education program giving kids a second chance to learn.

Mike Westgate – Athlete, Coach

Swimming and Boys Water Polo were the sports that Mike Westgate excelled in when at Rockford High School before graduating in 1988. He was an all-state performer in swimming and held Varsity records in the 100 yard backstroke, butterfly and medley relays. In water polo he scored 125 goals during the first four years of the program. Mike went on to swim at Grand Valley State University where he became team MVP and held their Varsity records in the 50 yard free and 200 and 400 free relays. He became the Rockford boy’s assistant water polo coach in 1998 and helped them to their first two state titles. Mike then took over the Rockford girl’s polo program in 2001 after coaching in Grandville. He compiled over 270 varsity wins, 6 conference championships, 4 district championships, 4 regional championships and 2 state titles before he retired in 2006. Mike is still active in the Michigan Water Polo Association where he has served as President and Director of Officials. He is currently the principal of Cannonsburg Elementary School in Rockford.

Nicole Bohnsack-McLagan – Athlete

(Inducted in 2014 – but was unable to attend the ceremonies)
Nicole was outstanding in cross country and track from the time she entered Rockford High School in the fall of 2000 until her graduation in 2004. She placed first in the 2001 and 2002 Class A Cross Country MHSAA state championship meet and was a member of Rockford’s Class A State Championship teams in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In track Nicole won the Class A state championship in the 1600 and 3200M races in 2002 and 2003. She was a member of Rockford’s national record setting 4×1600 and 4xmile relay teams. In 2003 she was the Michigan “Runner of the year” and was the Farm Bureau Scholar Female Athlete in 2004. She was an all-conference and all state performer every year of high school. After graduation, she continued running successfully at Penn State. She is now living in Austin Texas where she is a lecturer at the University of Texas.