Award named after GVSU’s Baltes

GVL / Robert Mathews
Jerry Baltes

GVL / Archive

GVL / Robert Mathews Jerry Baltes

Pete Barrows

In the bowels of the Grand Valley State University Fieldhouse Arena, there is a hidden shrine. Tucked away in the basement, down a hallway rarely traversed by students, office room 97 could be passed a thousand times and never given a second glance. A workspace shared by distance track and field coach Nick Polk and head coach Jerry Baltes, the office, subtle and modest, is everything you’d expect a coach’s office to look like – that is, until you cross the threshold, sit down on the tightly arranged leather love seat and look around.

Trophies and plaques decorate every available inch and seemingly pour from the walls. To catalogue the treasure trove in full would require a separate article, but 50 GLIAC Coach of the Year titles, 33 Great Lakes/Midwest Regional Coach of the Year awards, six national championships and counting headline the haul– and it’s only taken coach Baltes 14 years to collect the bounty.

Last Thursday the U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced that the Division II Women’s Program of the Year Award had been renamed in Baltes honor.

“It’s our honor to name this award after coach Baltes,” said Sam Seemes, CEO of the USTFCCCA. “His teams at GVSU have shown great excellence in recent years and his name will forever be etched with this award. His team made history as the first to earn a Division II triple crown and that should be celebrated for generations to come.”

GVSU Athletic Director Tim Selgo was pleased with the extension of the program’s legacy as well.

“We are very proud that coach Baltes has been honored by the USTFCCCA with the naming of the Division II Women’s Program of the Year, the Jerry Baltes Award,” Selgo said. “It is a well-deserved honor for Jerry and will bring great recognition to GVSU for many, many years. This is just one more way that Jerry, his staff and student athletes have put Grand Valley into the national limelight.”

With over 107 All-Americans produced during his tenure, Baltes hasn’t been able to do it on his own. It has taken time and many contributions to pave the track.

“It’s humbling, but the thing of it is that the recognition is because of so many other people involved in our program over the years,” Baltes said. “Prior to me getting here and Tim Selgo and the administration committing to track and field, which hadn’t been done before, all the way back to coach Bill Klinger who started the program on very little to nothing, and of course all of our student athletes over the years, my assistant coaches and our athletic trainers.”

The magnitude of the accomplishment was not lost on Baltes, but he doesn’t intend to linger.

“It was unexpected, but hopefully it’s not the last thing that I’m responsible or recognized for,” Baltes said. “It’s a great recognition, but we’re just moving full speed ahead and working hard to try and accomplish that next positive thing as a team.”

For Baltes, it’s the days, not the accolades, that count.

“What we just try to focus on is the everyday process,” Baltes said. “Getting up every day and stepping out of bed with a positive attitude, ready to work hard and do well whatever you do. Whether that’s in the classroom, or at track practice, or community service, or working your part time job or being a good brother, sister, friend – whatever it is. If we do that, those type of things good every day, or do well at the everyday things, the big things will eventually happen.”

Off to a strong start in 2013, the Lakers won’t be allowed to linger either.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and try to do well,” Baltes said. “We’ve got a good season started here, but we’ve got a long ways to go.”

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