Sailors Overcome Tradgedy and Keep Coaches’ Streak Alive

South Christian girls golf team is headed to their 16th straight State Finalsmike_mollWhen someone asks what team or individual accomplishment in high school sports is the most impressive, many people respond with something pertaining to football or basketball. Those are the most publicized sports, as well as, events that attract hundreds or even thousands of people to them on a regular basis.


Over the course of covering local high school sports, I came across what I consider one of the most impressive accomplishments in Michigan high school sports history. An accomplishment in our own backyard that you’ve probably never heard of.


For 16 years this team hasn’t had the benefit of the crowd cheering them on. That has more to do with the sport they play where being a spectator requires you to be still and silent.


The sport is golf.  In this instance girls golf, and the South Christian Sailors deserve your respect.


This last week a streak was able to continue under very difficult circumstances after long time girls golf coach and teacher Rod VanDyke, more commonly known as Dyke, was struck and killed while riding a bike on Tuesday morning, October 7. After an all school assembly to inform everyone about what had happened, students were allowed to go home for the day or to remain at school to grieve with friends and their school family.


During that time, the team and Athletic Director Curt Copeland had a decision to make. The State Regional tournament was the next day, the qualifier for the Division 3 State Championship, but how could they compete after such a devastating loss? Copeland and the team came to the conclusion that Coach Dyke would want them to play.


The following day they not only played, but played extremely well! South Christian took 1st place to move on to the State Finals for the 16th consecutive time! They shot a team score of 357 which bested the runner up by 18 strokes.


The team consists of Juniors Nicole Hoekwater and Hannah DeVries along with Seniors Rachel Theule, Nicole VanderYacht, Marissa Smits, and Lauren Hofman. The Sailors next challenge is the Division 3 State Championship. The Championship will be held at Forest Akers East course in East Lansing this weekend (October 17-18).


In their 15 previous trips, the Sailors have won the championship twice, have been runner up five times, and have never finished lower than eighth.


What if, for just that one weekend in East Lansing, there were indeed hundreds of fans that gathered to support this group of girls? To show them just how impressive the streak on the playing field is, but also how much their efforts, talents, and dedication is appreciated and supported by the community.


But remember, quiet during play please.


Congratulations Sailors and Coach Dyke, you will be missed – job well done!