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March 16, 2014

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During my days as an English teacher, one of my favorite assignments was to have students write a question and answer piece where they interviewed themselves. They were to both ask and answer the questions, with the objective being to reveal their personality, views on the world, likes and dislikes, etc. So, since I have spent a lot of time talking to myself during my lengthy drive to and from work this school year, I figured a little self Q & A might be interesting. I’ll let you be the judge…

Q: So what are the lasting memories from your first winter sports season at Olivet?

A: Well…let’s see. I’ll always remember someone turning on (and leaving on) the upstairs sound system right before that National Anthem was sung before a varsity boys’ basketball game in December. Thankfully Tom Critchlow had a key to the upstairs cage and turned off the music midway through the Anthem. There’s also the time when senior Ryan Nail, just moments after giving one of our inexperienced (and nervous) Anthem singers a little pep talk before her performance, forgot to stand up during the Anthem. And who can forget the time when cheerleader Kayla Harris flipped into the…

Q: Sorry to interrupt. When I asked about lasting memories, I was actually searching for highlights involving the Olivet teams and student-athletes. Anything come to mind?

A: Oh, my bad. Yes, there were plenty of moments that stood out. They include Kiley Ploehn’s game-winning three-pointer against rival Parchment, Ben Turner’s incredible hustle play that sparked the come-from-behind Homecoming victory over Pennfield, Hayley Walkowski concluding a brilliant career which included 1,189 points, Jarred Calkins getting his 100th career victory at the state meet, and Rob Fleming and the girls’ basketball program winning their seventh straight KVA title.

Q: Speaking of Coach Fleming, you asked the Twitter world a while back if anyone knew how many career varsity victories he had. Did you ever reveal the answer?

A: You don’t understand. I asked the question because I don’t know the answer. Let’s just say that keeping track of individual records and statistics is not part of Coach Fleming’s makeup. With that said, I’m offering a free Tim’s Pizza turkey sub for anyone who can provide this information.

Q: Along with some exciting contests, this winter also produced some big news with regard to Olivet switching leagues – from the KVA to the newly-formed Greater Lansing Athletic Conference (GLAC). Are you still confident that the move will prove beneficial?

A: Well, unless we wanted to be an independent in a couple of years, switching to the GLAC is definitely the right move. The KVA will likely cease to exist following the 2014-15 school year, with most of the remaining schools joining the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Regardless of the KVA’s future, however, the GLAC is a great fit for us. I’m looking forward to building and rebuilding relationships with the other GLAC schools, and everyone I talk to seems excited about the scheduling versatility that goes along with switching leagues.

Q: Talk to us about Olivet’s new Nike deal. Is it true that anyone with an Olivet mailing address gets free Nike gear for the rest of his/her life?

A: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Take it easy now. While the Nike deal is a pretty cool thing, it may not be as lucrative as some people think. It basically means that Olivet High School will purchase Nike uniforms for our sports teams, and, in return, we will receive $12,000 of free Nike gear and a 40 percent discount on all Nike stock items over the next three years. It should be noted, too, that we’re not buying new uniforms for every program right away. We will continue along the same purchasing schedule that was established in the past.

Q: So why Nike opposed to brands like Adidas, Russell, Under Armour, Wilson, etc.?

A: Since I can’t believe you asked me that question, I will limit my response to one word – Swoosh.

Q: Okay, just a few more questions. In a fictitious perfect world where finances are not an issue, what realistic additions would you like to make to the Olivet athletic program?

A: First of all, we need a certified athletic trainer who provides training room hours after school and covers events when needed. We are lagging behind in this area and, by not having one, are definitely in the minority compared to other schools our size. The cost is approximately $20,000, but you said money wasn’t an issue…right?

Q: Anything else?

A: As a matter of fact, yes. I would also like to see us eventually employ a certified strength coach who facilitates our weight room after school and coordinates the strength programs for all of our student-athletes. Think about it. We would have someone in charge of the weight room from 2:45-5:00 p.m. every day. This would give out-of-season athletes a consistent resource and also complement coaches who are short on time and may not be experts in the weightlifting field. We’re looking at somewhere around $10,000, but this is a perfect world…right?

Q: Switching gears, you seem to get along real well with OHS principal Rob Bobeda. What makes him such a likeable individual?

A: Anyone who has met Mr. Bobeda knows that he is intelligent, enthusiastic and offers a fresh perspective on how a high school should operate. To say he was a great find for Olivet would be a definite understatement. But that doesn’t change the fact that his accomplishments as a high school and college athlete are starting to wear on me.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Mr. Bobeda doesn’t brag at all, but it is unbelievable how well known he is near his hometown. Nearly every game official from the Lansing area who comes into our building mentions what a legendary athlete Mr. Bobeda was at DeWitt High School and the University of Michigan during the 1990s. Then, to top it off, people were buzzing about his athletic ability following the student-staff volleyball game. “It looked like he was jumping on a trampoline,” one teacher said.

Q: Do you really have a problem with this? Or are you just jealous?

A: Just jealous…but still.

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