Housing

The Mark A. Murray building on GVSU’s Allendale Campus, which was recently shut down due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

There were only a couple of months left in school before GVSU closed down both of their campuses in Grand Rapids and Allendale on March 18th. For some, this might have been cause for celebration, as their classes moved to an online format and some of their classwork was reduced. For them, it almost felt like they were back in fifth grade and their elementary school closed for a snow day.

But this was no snow day.

For those staying on one of GVSU’s campuses, this wasn’t just someplace where they took classes, it was their home.

It was their home… Rooms that were once filled with posters, desks, laptops, and cheap mattresses are now empty, waiting to be deep-cleaned by the GVSU custodial staff.

Apartments & Townhomes in Allendale, Michigan | Grand Valley State ...

On March 12th, President Philomena Mantella decided to close down all “residential building access from March 16th to March 29th.” In the same email, all students were given the order to move out of their complexes by Sunday, March 15. But that soon changed, as GVSU decided that the remainder of the semester would be conducted through an online format, officially closing the campus less than a week after the announcement came of a brief suspension.

Nine different housing complexes at GVSU were affected by Governor Whitmer’s executive order, forcing over 6,000 students to either return to their hometown or find another form of housing.

Among the buildings closed, was the Mark A. Murray Building, located on the south side of GVSU’s Allendale Campus. Residents were given strict instructions on how to conduct their clean-outs through a series of emails from GVSU administration, reiterating their goal of “working continuously and responsibly for the safety of our community and with the best interest of our students, employees, and visitors as [their] resolute focus.”

Each student was to sign up for an allotted “move-out slot” that ensured less than four people would be present during the same two hour period and that no residents from the same room would come in contact with one another. Students selected their dates through an online portal and conducted their move-outs for a week. It wasn’t quite the storybook ending the students envisioned for the end of their school year, and for some, they weren’t even able to say goodbye to their roommates in person.

“Checkout Envelopes” issued to all the on-campus housing students.

While the rest of the campus shut down following the student’s mass exodus, the custodial crews continued working as “essential staff” to help keep the campus clean and safe.

“I want all our employees to have confidence in the cleanliness of our campuses. We have increased our already high standards in our buildings. While washing your hands remains the most effective means to combat the spread of any virus, the custodial staff and contractors have increased their focus on cleaning and disinfecting our spaces,” Mantella said in an email sent out to all GVSU personnel and students.

“They are paying special attention to door handles, restroom fixtures, desks, tables, and all high-touch surfaces,” Mantella continued. “Germicidal and virucidal disinfectants are being utilized in daily routines in all common locations.”

The custodial staff has continued working throughout the shutdown in an attempt to keep the campus safe for future residents, but other workers in the administration building have also continued working, trying to help refund students for the two months of rent they no longer needed.

Starting March 26th, refunds were issued to student accounts as forms “credit”, which the students could use to pay for their rent next year. Most students were awarded somewhere between $1,200-$1,500, covering over two months’ worth of rent, parking passes, and meal plans.

Campus Dining - Grand Valley State University
Message sent out to all students with a meal plan on GVSU’s campus.

However, students who will be graduating in April, are unable to use the credits and the money they paid for a year of rent, will be a sunken cost. For an unprecedented situation, GVSU administration has done an admirable job of trying to help everyone, but this might be the one area they simply cannot help due to the mass amounts of money they would have to refund. Perhaps, refunding all of the Senior students was simply not feasible.

There currently is not a timetable on when the housing units will re-open to the students, but with all schools moving to virtual learning for the remainder of the year, residents can only hope things will return to normal by next fall and that they will be able to move back into their apartments… This time, for the entire school year.

COVID-19 is shutting down everything… Except sports betting.

mgm grand sportsbook - Google Search | Sportsbook, Sports books ...

Dave Rozema were among the long line of eager of sports fans waiting to make their bets at one of the kiosks or counters.

Most gamblers have been waiting for this day for years. They might have first fallen in love with the rush of sports gambling when they were just a child, putting a can of coke or the last piece of pizza on the line against one of their buddies… Or maybe they got hooked after a trip to the horse racing track with their father, or soon after they received an invite to a fantasy football league at work.

Legalized sports betting is something gamblers have dreamed of for ages and to finally have it reach fruition, was euphoric. “It’s like a dream come true,” sports bettor, Eric Adams, said in an interview with Jeff Seidel. “I go to Vegas all the time for the (NCAA) tournament. Now, I get to stay here.”

It was Heaven.

Then the NCAA tournament was canceled (and pretty much all other sporting events) and the Moneyline Lounge was forced to close their doors… Just a day after opening.
For as long as it took for sports gambling to become legalized in Michigan, it was the epitome of brutality, how quickly they acted closing their doors within days of their grand opening. It didn’t seem real. Just 24 hours ago, the Sportsbook was packed, highly anticipating the outcomes of the conference tournament games, in college basketball… Now the place is a ghost town.

Huge sports lounge opens at MGM Grand Detroit, minus the sports ...

But this issue isn’t just statewide; Las Vegas, Nevada, A.K.A. “the city that never sleeps” turned off their lights and went dark. Closing down all of their casinos and sportsbooks just a few days later, following Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s order to close all nonessential businesses (including casinos and all other gaming operations) in Nevada.

What was supposed to be a month of sports gambling paradise, quickly turned into something so sinister, it seemed like something out of a Stephen King novel. Not only were all sportsbooks going to close for at least 30 days, but all sports were going to be canceled as well, leaving almost nothing to bet on.

Almost.

Sports bettors have always been models of ingenuity; Always finding ways to evade the law and bet illegally through bookies or “friends of a friend”, and then avoiding said bookies when they owe them money. But they have never had to live a life without sports… They might not be able to count on a freshman hitting clutch free throws at the end of a game or an underdog to finish an upset that they bet on, but they could always count on sports.

Could.

With the sports world battling the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been forced to change how they operate: Football teams have been using their private jets to pick up medical supplies, instead of scouting draft picksbroadcasters have started to announce simple everyday events, and athletes have started playing each other in video games, instead of on the court.

Sports gamblers are no different and when there is a will, there’s a way. Sure, they might not have the major events they once did in the NCAA tournament, the Masters, or the NBA playoffs. But when you put your own hard-earned money on the line, they still feel the same rush.

In the void of sports: Video game simulations, marble races, politics, and the weather have become the bets du jour for gamblers. Bleacher Report has become the leader in video game simulations and with their new “B/R GOAT Sim” tournament, they are looking to become the hub of sports gambling for the next few weeks. “[We’ve] decided to put together a 32-team simulation tournament with the help of EA Sports’ Madden video game,” Adam Wells said of the bracket. Out-of-work bookies and online sportsbooks now flood BR’s comment section and website offering lines on the games, as well as ways to bet on the action.

But BR isn’t alone, Jelle Bakker and Dion Bakker’s Youtube Channel “Jelle’s Marble Runs” has become a haven for sports bettors the past few weeks as well. Each year, the channel uploads a new season of the Marble League, with different events and marbles each spring. This season couldn’t have come at a better time for the marble racers — With a lack of competition from sports, the channel has grown exponentially the past month to over 700,000 subscribers with more than 50 million total views. A significant rise, due to the influx of sports gamblers/fans to the league.

Odds on the next president (President Trump is currently the favorite to win the election at -115 odds, according to oddshark.com) and betting on the weather have also become ways for people to get their sports betting fix, but it’s just not the same.

Bettors miss the feeling of community they had at sportsbooks and the sporting events they hold dear to their hearts. Marble races and video game simulations are nice distractions, but they don’t hold a candle to the real thing. Legally placing sports bets within Michigan (on real games) is something Michiganders (what Michigan residents call themselves… Yes, it’s lame) have waited years for and it looks like they might have to wait just a little bit longer before they can savor it.

Maybe the wait will make sports bettors appreciate the games more when they return or maybe, some will drop the habit of sports gambling all together (yeah, right). Regardless of the potential outcomes, one thing is for sure; Sports gamblers always find a way.*

*P.S. There are odds on when the NBA will return to playing — June 1st +325, July 1st, +115, & August 1st, -170. If I were a betting man, I’d guess that the NBA isn’t going to return this year… But the good news is I am a terrible bettor. For the sports gamblers out there, let’s just hope the NBA returns in June.

– Jerod Fattal

Covid-19 is shutting down everything… Except sports betting.

mgm grand sportsbook - Google Search | Sportsbook, Sports books ...

DETROIT, Mich. — March 12th was a day filled with both history and happiness as MGM Grand’s ‘Moneyline’ Sportsbook opened it’s doors for the first time… Lions broadcaster Lomas Brown and former Tigers pitcher Dave Rozema were among the long line of eager of sports fans waiting to make their bets at one of the kiosks or counters.

Most gamblers have been waiting for this day for years. They might have first fallen in love with the rush of sports gambling when they were just a child with a can of coke or the last piece of pizza on the line against one of their buddies. Or maybe they got hooked with a trip to the horse racing track with their father or with an invite to a fantasy football league at work.

Legalized sports betting is something gamblers have dreamed of for ages and to finally have it reach fruition was euphroric. “It’s like a dream come true,” sports bettor, Eric Adams, said in an interview with Jeff Seidel. “I go to Vegas all the time for the (NCAA) tournament. Now, I get to stay here.”

It was Heaven.

Then the NCAA tournament was cancelled (and pretty much all other sporting events) and the Moneyline Lounge was forced to close their doors… Just a day after opening.

For as long as it took for sports gambling to become legalized in Michigan, it was maniacal how quickly they acted closing their doors within days of their grand opening. It didn’t seem real. Just 24 hours ago, the Sportsbook was packed, highly anticipating the outcomes of the conference tournament games in college basketball, Now the place is a ghost town.

Huge sports lounge opens at MGM Grand Detroit, minus the sports ...

But this issue isn’t just statewide; Las Vegas, Nevada, A.K.A. “the city that never sleeps” turned off their lights and went dark. Closing down all of their casinos and sports books just a few days later following Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s order to close all nonessential businesses (including casinos and all other gaming operations) in Nevada.

What was supposed to be a month of sports gambling paradise, quickly turned into something so sinister, it seemed like something out of a Stephen King novel. Not only were all sportsbooks going to close for at least 30 days, but all sports were going to be cancelled as well, leaving almost nothing to bet on.

Almost.

Sports bettors have always been models of ingenuity; Always finding ways to evade the law and bet illegally through bookies or “friends of a friend”, and then avoiding said bookies when they owe them money. But they have never had to live a life without sports… They might not be able to count on a freshman hitting clutch free throws at the end of a game or an underdog to finish an upset, but they could always count on sports.

Could.

With the sports world battling the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been forced to change how they operate: Football teams have been using their private jets to pick up medical supplies, instead of scouting draft picks, broadcasters have started to announce simple everyday events, and athletes have started playing eachother in video games, instead of on the court.

Sports gamblers are no different and when there is a will, there’s a way. Sure, they might not have the major events they once did in the NCAA tournament, the Masters, or the NBA playoffs. But when you put your own hard earned money on the line, they still have the same rush.

In the void of sports: Video game simulations, marble races, politics, and the weather have become the bets du jour for gamblers. Bleacher Report has become the leader in video game simulations and with their new “B/R GOAT Sim” tourament, they are looking to become the hub of sports gambling for the next few weeks. “[We’ve] decided to put together a 32-team simulation tournament with the help of EA Sports’ Madden video game,” Adam Wells said of the bracket. Out-of-work bookies and online sportsbooks now flood BR’s comment section and website offering lines on the games, as well as ways to bet on the action.

But BR isn’t alone, Jelle Bakker and Dion Bakker’s Youtube Channel “Jelle’s Marble Runs” has become a haven for sports bettors the past few weeks as well.  Each year, the channel uploads a new season of the Marble League, with different events and marbles each spring. This season couldn’t have come at a better time for the marble racers, with a lack of competition from sports, the channel has grown exponentially the past month to over 700,000 subscribers with more than 50 million total views. A significant rise, due to the influx of sports gamblers/fans to the league.

Odds on the next president (President Trump is currently the favorite to win the election at -115 odds, according to oddshark.com) and betting on the weather have also become ways for people to get their sports betting fix, but it’s just not the same.

Bettors miss the feeling of community they had at sportsbooks and the sporting events they hold dear to their hearts. Marble races and video game simulations are nice distractions, but they don’t hold a candle to the real thing. Legally placing sports bets within Michigan (on real games) is something Michiganders (what Michigan residents call themselves… Yes, it’s lame) have years for and it looks like they might have to wait just a little bit longer before they can savor it.

Maybe the wait will make sports bettors appreciate the games more when they return or maybe, some will drop the habit of sports gambling all together (yeah, right). Regardless of the potential outcomes, one thing is for sure; Sports gamblers always find a way.*

*P.S. There are odds on when the NBA will return to playing — June 1st +325, July 1st, +115, & August 1st, -170. If I were a betting man, I’d guess that the NBA isn’t going to return this year… But the good news is I am a terrible bettor. For the sports gamblers out there, let’s just hope the NBA returns in June.

– Jerod Fattal

‘Green Light’ Gassman leads GVSU past Davenport on Senior Night.

ALLENDALE, Mich. — Separated by less than 30 miles and only a 20-minute drive down the I-96 Highway, the “Crosstown Rivalry” between GVSU (22-6) and Davenport (19-11) played out more like a heavyweight boxing match than a college basketball game. The two teams played with a chip on their shoulder, looking to win the city of Grand Rapids’ championship belt. They battled back and forth all game, tempers flared (two technicals total between the two teams), the lead changed seven different times, and each team led by at least eight points at different spots in the contest.

But GVSU, Junior Guard, Isaac “Green Light” Gassman was the difference maker — Scoring a team-high 24 points on 6-8 shooting from the behind the three-point line and hitting huge shots at key junctures of the game.

“When your first couple shots start going in you know you’re going to have a good night,” Gassman said. “It’s a team game and we have too much talent to not play well in these games.”

The biggest bucket of the night came with GVSU leading 55-53, with 6:10 remaining in the second half. Senior Guard, Jeremiah Ferguson passed it to Gassman on the wing and after a quick pump-fake sent a Davenport defender flying past him, he landed the knockout blow and celebrated with a three-finger salute.

“I could tell from the way they were closing out that they were running past my toes,” Gassman said. “I work on that shot (pump-fake) a lot and the shout-out to the managers, they rebound for me all the time.”

Despite Gassman’s shooting, the Lakers still had trouble closing out the Panthers due to Chris Rollins and Chris Pearl, who combined for 50 of Davenport’s 66 points and were virtually unguardable.

“He’s (Rollins) got a tremendous first step and then when he gets there (in the paint), he’s a good passer,” Head Coach Ric Wesley said. “We didn’t really do a good job on him (Rollins) at all, he kept getting inside our defense.”

But Wesley and GVSU had answers for the Panthers 1-2 punch, mixing in different zones (mostly 2-3) throughout the second half to slow down Davenport’s offense.

“We’ve switched up defenses a lot this year,” Gassman said. “Today was a perfect example of how (something) we worked on in practice and it really coming through, they didn’t know what do to (against our zone).”

But Gassman wasn’t alone on the offensive end, GVSU dominated inside with Junior Christian Negron (6’7 Forward) having a career night, scoring 20 points and Sophomore Jake Van Tubbergen adding 17 boards.

“They (Davenport) try to front us and they have their arms and body on us the entire time, so it’s physical,” Negron said. “There’s a reason they are one of the top teams in GLIAC.”

GVSU pulled away in the final six minutes after Gassman’s clutch three-pointer, closing the game on a 25-13 run to win 75-66, on Senior Night. Where the Lakers honored three seniors: Jayden Hodgson (to honor his native country on Senior Night, the announcers played the Australian National Anthem before tip), Jeremiah Ferguson, and Isaac Gassman. “We got a really great group of seniors,” Wesley said. “We really wanted to send them out the right way.”

All three of the seniors played key roles in last year’s GLIAC Tournament Title and subsequent NCAA Tournament birth, which they hope to achieve again this year… And more.

“This was a big win for us in the conference standings and big for us in regional standings,” Wesley said. “Hopefully, this gives us momentum heading into the conference tournament.”

The Lakers begin tournament play in the GLIAC Quarterfinal, where they will host #7 seed, Ashland, as the #2 seed of the tournament behind Ferris State — Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM.

Building a brand behind the camera: How Social Media teams are influencing college athletics.

LSU Head Football Videographer, Will Stout. (WAFB.com)

College football and basketball are billion-dollar industries, with high-level division one programs bringing in millions each football and basketball season. But continued success is paramount to these schools if they want to build new buildings on campus, keep tuition low, and fund some of the lower level sports teams. For some of these programs, winning can completely change the complexion of their schools. “After making the Final Four in 2006, George Mason generated more than $650 million in free publicity, according to a university professor, and monthly bookstore sales increased by 1,300%.”

George Mason celebrating their trip to the 2006 Final Four. (NBC Sports)

There is a lot riding on these team’s coaches and players — And when the team reaches new levels of success, they are celebrated (as they should be). But what about the other guys?

Social media teams and staff videographers have become essential parts of these programs since the internet has taken off, but you don’t hear about them — Because when the team is celebrating their championship and the confetti is falling, they aren’t the ones getting interviewed on TV… They are the ones holding the camera.

But their job is much more than simply holding a camera.

Due to the lack of job openings at the division two-level, sports videographers will usually also have to do the work higher-level programs hire 5-6 people for. “I do creative video and graphics for the sports department,” said Scott Vander Sloot, the communications assistant at Ashland University, in Ohio. “I shoot some photography as well and then I also serve as the main (communications) contact for six different sports.” Vander Sloot is apart of a two-man team devoted to creating online content for their athletics programs, but their work has more of an impact than merely score updates — They are key factors in building their athletic program’s brand.

“We want our athletes front and center (in all our content),” Vander Sloot said. “They do a lot of cool stuff and if we do a storytelling narrative video for them, it can really make them look awesome.” Through the creation of riveting and engaging content, sports communication teams are helping to shape their program’s brands and can help paint a picture of “what playing for their school might look like” — Which can really help bolster their recruiting.

A hype video created by Vander Sloot for the Ashland Swimming and Diving team. (@goashlandeagles)

Throughout the 2019-2020 College Football Season, the LSU Tigers were dominating opponents on the field on their way to the National Championship, but off the field, their videographers were also dominating social media. With each victory, the videos became more and more popular, earning “over 48 million views and 265 million impressions throughout the season,” according to TwitterSports. It’s hard to quantify the video team’s impact on the recruiting side of things, but it’s naive to think that the Tigers #4 ranked 2020 recruiting class wasn’t swayed by LSU’s video content. The football team was good, sure… But the video team made them iconic.

QB Joe Burrow smoking a cigar after winning the National Championship. (@LSUFootball)
LSU’s 2020 National Championship Hype video, narrated by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Yeah, you read that right.

That’s the power these social media teams hold and the coaches know they need to utilize it if they want to maximize their recruiting efforts. “The football team is always coming to me saying they ‘want me to do this or do that’,” Gabe Soto, the head of videography and photography at Saginaw Valley State University, said. “I did a video for their spring practice and it blew up on social media (25K views), when that happens it makes more people notice us.” The better the content you can create, the more people will see it and the more people see it, the more likely a prospective recruit will. “It’s our number one goal is to appease the current athletes and coaches, but the recruiting aspect is huge,” Vander Sloot said. “If you aren’t making content that recruits will see and say ‘hey, I’d really like to be person in that video and go to that school’, then you are missing a huge part of what your role is.”

SVSU’s 2019 Football Spring Ball highlight film created by Soto. (@svsu_football)
Just one example of the lenghts these social media teams will go to lure recruits to their schools. (@ashlandFB)

The competition doesn’t stop on the field, it also continues off the field behind the camera and into the editing room as well.

But trying to create viral content that is unique to your school’s brand can be difficult. It’s becoming an arms race between schools and the pressure is incredibly high to be the best. “There’s a keeping up with the Joneses mentality you have to have in this job,” Vander Sloot said. “We don’t compare ourselves to anyone in our conference (GLIAC), because we want our stuff to look and feel like a division one program, that’s our goal.”

A program’s social media feed is an important part of what separates them from the pack because, without their documentation, people would never know what it’s like to be an athlete at their school. And the brand/identity these teams create online is what can make the difference between a championship… and a program that loses money. “People take for granted a lot of what goes into making the gameday experience what it is,” Soto said. “We’re just trying to make our school look good and help build our brand for others to see.”

Within each of these school’s social media feeds and video content, you can see their social media team’s fingerprints all over them. They take part of what makes themselves unique and use it to create a compelling brand that also builds their school’s identity in the process. But crafting an identity can be a daunting task that takes a lot of work, but when it’s done right, it’s worth it. “It will usually take me somewhere between 8-12 hours to create our narrative video pieces,” Vander Sloot said. “To me, it’s more about establishing and creating timeless pieces that will be watched over and over for years to come, that’s why we do it.”

By: Jerod Fattal

Sweet 16! Lakers bury 16 three pointers and win the Battle of the Valleys.

By: Jerod Fattal

ALLENDALE, Mich. — The Grand Valley State Lakers started extremely slow Thursday night in their ‘Battle of Valleys’ rivalry game against the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals. They were sluggish, getting killed on the offensive boards, missing open shots, and getting beaten in transition by the more energetic SVSU team. Then with 3:25 left in the first half trailing 32-26, the Lakers got their spark.

Senior Guard, Jeremiah Ferguson, slowly dribbled the ball up the court and after slightly jogging around a couple of screens near the top of the key, he settled about three feet behind the arc and let a deep three-pointer fly. He buried it and the floodgates opened. On the ensuing possession, Junior sharpshooter Isaac Gassman ran off a couple of flare screens and buried a three from the corner, tying the game at 32 apiece.

“It was important to finish out the first half, we haven’t been finishing and closing out first half’s very well and we’ve had some really big blunders here at the half lately,” Head Coach, Ric Wesley said. “We’ve talked about that and we just had to be a little bit better (at the end of the first half).”

GVSU finished the half on an 18-5 run in the final 5:45 of the first half and a 13-0 run in the final 3 minutes. The Lakers buried five threes during that stretch, including a huge three from Senior Ben Lubitz at the buzzer to swing all of the momentum away from the Cardinals and give them a 39-32 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

The Lakers, led by Gassman with 19 points and five made threes didn’t look back as they tied the school record (set by the 2006 team in a game against Ashland) with sixteen threes from all over the GVSU Fieldhouse. Senior Jayden Hodgson was also deadly from deep, scoring 15 points on 5-6 shooting from three.

“It didn’t feel like we were on fire (from three) because I thought we had good shots,” Wesley said. “The ball movement was really good and we didn’t force any bad shots.”

But this was far from just an offensive effort. The 68.2 PPG defense was also instrumental in the rivalry win, mixing in a 2-3 zone throughout the game to keep SVSU guessing on the offensive end.

“I think it’s good for us (to mix in a zone defense), I mean I watch a lot of teams and zone is something you can go to especially at the end of games,” Hodgson said. “It takes teams out of rhythm and it conserves some energy.”

The Lakers also keyed on the Cardinal’s Junior guard and former Eastern Michigan Eagle, Malik Ellison, holding him to just 16 points on 7-18 shooting by deploying double teams on pick and rolls and throwing multple different defenders at him throughout the game.

The two rival teams traded buckets throughout the first 13 minutes of the second half, but with 7:39 left in the game and GVSU clinging to a 64-55 lead, the Lakers delivered the knockout blow. Coming out of the under eight minutes media timeout, with the Lakers inbounding the ball underneath their own hoop, Gassman found Junior Christian Negron for an alley-oop jam after a perfectly baseline out of bounds play.

“You feel great as a coach (dialing up a perfect inbounds play), especially when they are right in front of our bench, it’s always like we got them,” Wesley said. “They (baseline inbounds plays) are about 8% of your offense, it’s important and we are the best in our league, usually.”

GVSU coasted the rest of the way on the shoulders of Ferguson, who facilitated the historic night on offense with 17 points and 8 assists, leading the Lakers to an 86-74 victory over SVSU.

“Really excited to get this win, it puts us at 20 wins on the season and that’s always a significant accomplishment,” Wesley said. “Obviously we want to do more, but this was something to celebrate tonight.”

The Lakers will look to add to their win total and remain atop the GLIAC conference on Saturday, traveling to Northwood for their next game against the 13-10 Timberwolves, tip-off is set for 6:00 PM.

Patrick Mahomes steals Super Bowl ‘LIV’ from San Francisco and the night from Shakira and J-Lo.

MIAMI, Fla. – Patrick Mahomes looked human for three and half quarters. But down, 20-10, with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, facing third-and-a-mile, he became a legend.

Up until that point, San Francisco had played nearly a flawless game and their defense was putting on a clinic. Through three quarters, Patrick Mahomes only had 145 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and one terrible interception. The Niners had a 93.8% chance to win before the ball was snapped… Then Mahomes received the snap from shotgun and proceeded to take a seven-step-drop before letting the home-run ball fly. Hill started to the left of Mahomes in the slot and tracked the ball on his deep-out route toward the sideline, where he had to wait a second before making the biggest play in Chiefs history.

From there the flood gates opened. Mahomes went on to throw for 141 yards in the fourth quarter and 2 TD’s, finishing the game with 286 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 29 rush yards, and 1 rushing touchdown. He was “Magic Mahomes” as announcer Joe Buck described during one of his dazzling plays in the final minutes.

“Coach [Andy Reid] pushes us to be the best people we can be and never give up,” Mahomes said in an interview, following the game. “I’ve been waiting to say it my whole life: I’m going to Disney World.”

While Mahomes, Head Coach Andy Reid, and the rest of Chiefs nation was celebrating their Super Bowl victory. In the basement of the Hard Rock Stadium, Mahomes counterpart, Jimmy Garoppolo, was filled with regret and on the brink of tears. Because even after all of the “Mahomes Magic”, he was the one with the opportunity to have the last laugh; Down 24-20, with just over two minutes remaining in the game, San Francisco Wide Reciever Emmanuel Sanders broke from the pack on a fade route and was open for what would have been a walk-in touchdown, but, Garoppolo missed him.

“We missed some shots tonight,” Garoppolo said. “Some plays that we usually make. That was a tough one out there.”

A couple of minutes later, the Niners dream season would come to an end in heartbreaking fashion, losing 31-20 after leading 20-10. Former Atlanta Falcon Offensive Coordinator and current 49er Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, who was caught on camera visibly frustrated following Garoppolo’s overthrow of Saunders, has now been apart of the two biggest collapses in Super Bowl history: Blowing a 28-3 lead vs. the Patriots in Super Bowl ‘LI’ and a 10 point lead vs. the Chiefs last night.

“S—, it was brutal. I don’t know how to describe it. It just sucked.” Said Niners tight end George Kittle on Shanahan’s message to his team following the game. “Kyle was great, though. That’s one thing I do like about Kyle is, he keeps it real, all the time. I love playing for him.”

After taking his time in the locker room consoling his players, the disappointed head coach finally made his way to the podium. “They’re just hurting. Guys put it all out there. They’ve done it all year from the first game to the last game. It’s a real close team. Everyone is disappointed, and they should be. I wouldn’t expect anything different. Guys put their heart into the season and came up one game short. Extremely proud of us and everything, but this is going to take a little time to get over — but we’ll be alright.”

But if there’s anyone who knows how Shanahan is feeling, it’s Andy Reid. Who up until last night “had never won the big one” despite five trips to the semi-final round throughout his career.

But that’s all over now, he won the big game and rather than enjoying what the Miami Nightclub scene has to offer, the 61-year-old ball coach is celebrating by “going to go get the biggest cheeseburger you’ve ever seen,” Reid said after the game doused in orange Gatorade (which hit at +450 odds in most sportsbooks across the country). “I’ll find the biggest one. It might be a double.”

For some, there might be an asterisk inscribed on the Chiefs Lombardi Trophy, after a few controversial calls bounced their way, most notably, an offensive PI called on the Niners’ Kittle right before the half, costing San Fran a surefire three points before half. “The ref made the call, I gotta live with it,” Kittle told reporters after the loss.

This young Niners group will their shot at redemption for year’s to come against Mahomes and the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs, but for now, it stings.

As for Kansas City, with red and yellow confetti filling the air, the last thing on their mind right is defending the title, but after winning their first in over 50 years in such dramatic fashion, we can only hope they will be a fixture in this game for years to come.

On a night filled with stars like Shakira, Bad Bunny (I didn’t know who that was until I looked it up afterward) and Jennifer Lopez, a 24-year-old kid from Tyler, Texas stole the show.

“It’s like watching Denzel in a movie. It’s like watching LeBron James in the playoffs,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said after the game. “He has that spark. For him to be that young and to find the confidence to do what he did against a special defense, that tells you everything you need to know about that man.”

“Thank you Kansas City, we did it baby,” Mahomes, now a Super Bowl champion yelled to the crowd after the game.

Image result for mahomes celebrating photo superbowl

If you want the best chance to win a state championship, the “boring and old-school” Wing-T offense is your best shot, not the popular Spread offense and the data backs it up.

Photo of 2015, Division 3 Champion, Orchard Lake St. Mary courtesy of USA Today.

Growing up as the youngest of three brothers, I didn’t many arguments. So when my two older brothers and I debated about what offense the Corunna Cavaliers (our local high school team) should be running? I lost. They insisted the popular Spread or even the rarely seen Option offenses led to the most success in high school football, while I was mocked for even mentioning the Wing-T offense as an option. They laughed and jeered as they often do, turning me into the “monkey in the middle” of the trio…

So I sought to answer this question through analytics instead of opinion.

The results were shocking.

The Spread offense has become the most popular offense in all of high school football and unsurprisingly, in data collected through expert analysis, 42 percent of the teams who have made it to the championship game over the past 10 years (160 total teams), have run some variation of this offense. But the growing popularity of the Spread offense and the shift from more traditional offenses, is not the best way to achieve success in high school football, surprisingly, the Wing-T offense is.

Despite the apparent lack of Wing-T teams across the state of Michigan, 34 percent of the teams who make it to the championship game hosted at Ford Field, run the Wing-T. What this data shows us is that although there is a significant less number of teams who run the Wing-T, they have nearly the same amount of teams winning hardware each year as the much more popular Spread offense. Fox 17’s Jason Hutton, who has covered high school football for over 10 years in West Michigan, roughly estimates that over half of the teams in Michigan run the spread and the Wing-T, Pro-style, and Option offenses are all significantly less popular.

Although the Wing-T offense might lack the flash of the Spread, it certainly makes up for it in the win column.

The Wing-T focuses on simplicity, running the ball effectively, reducing turnovers, which can oftentimes result in a slower or less entertaining product on the field. But with the lack of Wing-T teams across the state, it’s difficult for teams to adjust to the down-hill style the offense presents. It forces teams out of their comfort zone and makes opponent preparation a nightmare. The offense maximizes their player’s talent and is easy to execute, allowing for more time to be spent on other facets of their team. “There is a lot of continuity with traps, powers, and such in the Wing-T,” said 11 year, Ovid-Elsie Head Coach Travis Long, who has run both the Wing-T and Pro-Style offenses as a coach. “Which makes it harder on the defense to recognize plays.”

The base formation of the Wing-T offense, usually called “Full House”.
Highlights from the 1995-1996, MHSAA Division 4, State Champion Belding Redskins team coached by Irv Sigler. Who would go onto make the finals four times in 10 years and win two state titles, running the Wing-T at Belding.

The Wing-T is often said to be the oldest offense in football history, having been created by Walter “the Father of Football” Camp in 1882. But with the emergence of the forward pass over the past 100 years, it has become less and less common in football; Zero NFL or college teams run it and hardly any high school teams (roughly 15-20 percent) run the fabled offense anymore, but why? “It’s (the Spread offense) more appealing to today’s kid,” Long said. “They see it in college and the pro’s, whereas compared to when I was growing up, there was more of an emphasis on running the ball.”

The Spread has become the most popular offense in football over the past 20 years, with more and more teams dropping the Wing-T in favor of it. “It’s shifted, when I first started the spread was what everyone ran, but now things have flipped and the Wing-T schools are the odd teams out,” said former Flint-Waverly High School and 3 year, Owosso Head Football Coach Devin Pringle, who runs the Wing-T. “I only played one other school this year that ran the Wing-T.” The Spread utilizes a quick passing game predicated on putting speedy players on the perimeter, as well as using shotgun formations and perimeter runs that help take pressure off the offensive lineman. “A lot of coaches run the spread because they can get their best players away from the rest of defense and win those one-on-one matchups on the outside,” said Hutton.

The base formation of the Spread offense, often called “flex”.
Highlights from the 2014-2015 Rose Bowl Champion, Oregon Ducks Spread Offense.

The Pro-Style is another style of offense that is seemingly more widely run than the Wing-T. Most notably, perennial Division One and Four powers Clarkston and Detroit Country Day have found success running the Pro-Style (2 titles). However, only 18 percent of the finalists at Ford Field over the past ten years have ran it, just over half the amount of the Wing-T. The Pro-Style offense is an under-center, run heavy offense with a complicated passing game that requires a quarterback who is comfortable throwing inside the pocket (a rarity in high school football). The offense requires a strong offense line, a couple of talented pass catching and blocking tight ends, and a talented runningback. The Pro-Style offense is what almost every single team runs in professional football, but what works in the NFL is different than what works for 16-18 year old kids in high school. “I think the Pro-Style and the Wing-T are very similar,” said first year St. Johns Head Coach Andrew Schmitt, who runs the Wing-T. “But the Wing-T allows more deception in the running game and less reliance on quarterback play.”

The base formation of the Pro-Style offense, usually called “I-Form”.
Highlights from the 2012 Wisconsin Badgers Pro-Style offense.

The Option offense was created by Head Coach Dan Faurot at Missouri in 1941 and throughout the 1980s and ’90s, it was one of the most popular offenses in all of high school and college football. But since then, the Option has become the rarest offense in all of football, with only 6 percent of the MHSAA finalists of the 2010s had run it. The offense utilizes the QB as a runner and often leaves defenders unblocked, requiring the QB to make reads on whether to give the ball to the running back, keep it himself, or pitch it to the slot back. “Every coach is looking for a way to help his players and this gives players a chance when they’re outmanned,” said Harding University Offensive Consultant Kenny Wheaton in an interview with Daily Herald reporter, Mike Lee. But the option is known for being extremely complicated and difficult to learn, and it places a premium on having 3-4 talented running backs on your roster, which a lot of high school teams don’t have.

The base formation of the Option offense, usually called the “flexbone”.
Highlights of the Muskegon Big Reds Option offense throughout the 2000’s, which has helped them win four state championships in the past 20 years.

Despite these findings, many coaches are still reluctant to run the Wing-T, no matter how much success it might bring. “The Wing-T doesn’t have many formations,” said Long who recently changed his Wing-T offense to the Spread this past offseason. “You get the motions with the jet sweeps and quick passes in the spread that can be difficult to prepare for.” But the reluctance doesn’t only stem from X’s and O’s, the outside pressures on coaches to change from the redundant Wing-T to the Spread has forced programs to adapt, or be left behind. “If you’re a kid who’s a good quarterback, you just transfer to a different school district,” Hutton said. “That’s the landscape in 2019.”

The sad reality is and as odd as it sounds, it seems schools have become more likely to run an offense because of how it looks, rather than how it performs. “It wasn’t real popular, they thought it was boring, that we were stuck in the past. We heard that a lot,” said Jeff Bowen, the Head Coach of the 2016 AHSAA (Arizona) State Champion Avondale Westview High School football team in an interview with AZ Central’s, Scott Bordow, on the backlash he recieved when he switched from the spread to the Wing-T. “You can’t prepare for it because no one runs it.”

Every year, high school football teams across the country compete for a chance at a state title and for many of these young athletes, they have to devote countless hours during the summer and fall to succeed on the field. However, oftentimes, this sacrifice and dedication can be fruitless not because the players aren’t as talented or dedicated as another team, but because they are stuck running the wrong offense.

The Wing-T provides an offense that is conducive to the high school level because it is easy to learn, easy to execute, and maximizes the talent of its players. Granted, it might not be as “sexy” as the Spread, Option, or Pro-Style offenses, but it will produce more wins. “It’s important to play good defense and control the ball and run it well on offense, which is what the Wing-T allows,” Pringle said. “You can put together 6-to-8 minute drives and keep the other team’s best skill players off the field and grind out some wins.”

Even with the continued success of the Wing-T, the number of teams running the offense continues to drop… But that’s not a problem for the coaches and teams who do still line-up in the full-house formation. “A lot of teams have gone away with it, but the hard part about it is with everyone going to the spread, it makes the Wing-T that much harder to prepare for,” Schmitt said. “That’s just another reason to stick with it.”

However, it’s important to remember that no single offense is the perfect fit for each group of players, it’s up to the coach to shape his offense to fit their personnel. “It’s just as much about the Jimmy’s and the Joes as the X’s and O’s and if you have good players, you just have to find the right system to maximize their talents,” Schmitt said.

Long agreed, saying that choosing an offense is really about finding what “what works best for your player personnel and as long as you coach it well, you’re going to find success,” Long said.

But the sad reality is, if you don’t have an elite throwing QB, which is rare at the high school level, the Wing-T is the best offense for your program.

Since it’s creation in the late 1800s, the Wing-T has slowly become less and less popular among high school football teams, but even with the apparent lack of Wing-T programs, it’s still extremely successful at the biggest stage of high school football, with 34% of the MHSAA state finalists having run it the past 10 years. Regardless of how you feel about the Wing-T’s boring style or old school tactics, it’s impossible to ignore its success and if you want to win, you should be running the Wing-T, plain and simple… Just like the Wing-T. “I’ll take a boring win over an exciting loss anytime,” Bowen said.

The story behind the story: behind the scenes of a television newscast.

A normal Friday night for the viewers at home watching the 10 p.m. news update is entertaining and relaxing, but for the workers at the Fox 17 news station in Grand Rapids, Michigan who put the news broadcast on the air, it’s anything but relaxing. For the storytellers: It’s stressful, hectic, chaotic, and exciting.


For the editors, camera operators, journalists, and anchors the most important part of the job is to remember that “we’re in the business of storytelling” and it is their duty to produce an entertaining, informative, and factual broadcast seven nights a week.

Even though the broadcast doesn’t air until 10 p.m., often workers will arrive hours before to research, shoot, and report on the stories that will go live on the nightly news later that day.

Similar to Picasso, Michelangelo, or Vincent Van Gogh and how they use their paintbrushes to paint paintings, video journalists use a camera as their tool to tell stories.

The calm before the (media) storm…

The sports segment on the 10 p.m. news is called the “Fox 17 Blitz” and for the sports reporters in the winter, there Friday nights often include covering multiple different high school basketball games across the west side of the state. With numerous different sporting events to cover, multiple different media passes are also required.

For some reason, normal parking rules don’t apply to news coverage vehicles and they are allowed to park wherever they please. It’s almost some sort of un-written rule in society that if you work for a news station, you are allowed to park in fire lanes. When asking around the station about this, reporters simply responded by saying it’s “one of the perks of the biz.”

Game #1 Martin at Tri-Unity Christian: Thanks to a dominant second half, the Tri-Unity Christian Defenders ended up defeating the Martin Clippers 58-40, winning a District Title in the process.

Game #2 Potter’s House Christian at Calvin Christian: Calvin Christian defeated Potter’s House Christian 63-52. The Squires outscored Potter’s House by 10 in the second quarter and never looked back. Upsetting the 19-2 Pumas and winning the District Title in shocking fashion.

Following the sports reporters and anchors “run” (shooting schedule), they will often “fuel up” with some food, but on certain nights, due to a busy work schedule, the food will end up going to waste… Or in this case… Melting.

Following their pre-broadcast meal or lack thereof, it’s now a rush against the clock to time to edit together their highlights from their games earlier in the night. If everything goes according to plan, the viewer will not even think about the camera or the person who shot it, instead the story will speak for itself and the storyteller will slink into the shadows.

When people think about their local news station, they often think of the weatherman or the anchors, but without the unsung heroes behind the scenes, none of it would be possible.

Showtime!