This year, even though Coach VanDyke was two years short of the usual criteria to be elected, the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association has announced that the South Christian coach will be posthumously inducted on Friday, May 20, 2016. The induction will take place at Tullymore Golf Resort as part of the MIGCA Hall of Fame and Coach of the Year banquet.
This year’s newly elected members will also include Jack Baumgartner from Perry, Tim Bradley from Lapeer West, and Doug McKay from De La Salle Collegiate, bringing the total membership to just one hundred.
“Coach Rod was truly a man of God that enjoyed what he did everyday,” said Curt Copeland, South Christian Athletic Director. “He was very dedicated to his family, the school, his students, and his teams, but at the same time was never afraid to enjoy it and laugh at himself. He never took himself too seriously.”
In addition to his coaching duties, VanDyke was a teacher at South Christian for twenty-two years.
The statistics seem to lend themselves that Coach Dyke, as he was often called by both his own players and opponents alike, was more than qualified to enter into the elite Hall of Fame. The only thing holding him back was the minimum requirement of twenty years, or thirty combined seasons, of coaching boys and girls. He coached the girls teams for eighteen years and also led the boys team for seven seasons.
His teams combined for a match and tournament record of 672 – 119. They secured thirteen conference and fifteen MHSAA Regional Championships. He had either an individual or a team qualify for twenty-four MHSAA State Championship tournaments, including his last team that had to play their Regional tournament the day following his death.
“South Christian has a different basis for things than some other places might have,” explained Copeland as he looks back on 2014 and that fateful October day. “We felt we put the people in place to help handle the circumstances with that basis as the emphasis.”
The result of South Christian’s foundation, and the people in the program, played a part into the decision to have the girls play the following day. The team ended up winning Regionals and qualified South Christian for their sixteenth consecutive State Finals berth. Coach Dyke’s tradition of excellence has only continued as the team extended the streak to seventeen this last October under the guidance of new coach Ben Cook.
VanDyke’s teams finished State Runners-up five times, once with the boys and four times with the girls. The girls won two Division III State Championships in 2007 and 2009.
In 2007, on top of a State Championship, VanDyke also brought home honors as Michigan Coach of the Year. He repeated the feat with the boys in 2011. In 2009, Coach Dyke become one of only three coaches to be named as both the girls and boys Coach of the Year in the same year.
When asked how Coach Dyke would react to the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Copeland said, “I think that he would probably be a little embarrassed by it all. It wasn’t initially his goal to be in the Hall of Fame. At the same time, he would say that he was honored, but would quickly add that he was blessed with good athletes to work with and that he was fortunate not to mess them up too badly.”
Each of the young men and women that were fortunate enough to play for Coach Dyke over the years have a very special memory or token that they will carry with them not only on the golf course, but through life itself. Rod is survived by wife Julie and their three daughters Kelsey, Kenzie, and Maddie.
The Hall of Fame is something that only the best in that particular area are allowed to be a member of, and the rest of us can only look at, read about, and remember. In Coach Dyke’s case, when his membership is reflected upon, and since this is for golf, say a quiet “Thank you for the job well done and congratulations Rod.”