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Pete Barrows


SUBHED: Column: Life as a philanthropic recruiter

By Pete Barrows

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It comes as a surprise to most, but I don’t make enough through my Lanthorn writing alone to sustain my lavish lifestyle.

I keep waiting for ESPN to request that I weigh in with my hot takes, Mitch Albom to ask me to write the forward for his next book, Terry Foster to have me as a guest host on The Ticket or at the very least, Tony Reali to have me on to sweep up all the crumpled balls of paper he litters across the set after every episode of Around The Horn.

But no one’s lining up for my services. Not yet, at least.

So to keep the off-brand hot dogs on the table and Elaine – my busted-up 2003 Pontiac Grand Am – swimming in fresh duct tape until my big break comes, I’ve worked odd jobs and schemed get-rich-quick hustles on the side.

I started a few summers back breeding foxes with beagles, looking to break in to the exotic pet game. Only Boxes weren’t nearly as popular as I anticipated; they don’t listen to a word you say, and are almost impossible to catch.

I then tried opening a shoe-shine stand just outside of the Kirkhof Center, and it was going great until I spilt polish all over T-Haas. I told him I was an FBI agent as I bolted to squelch the heat, but Andy Dwyer did it best. If only I knew how to play the guitar.

I took to plumbing next, but there are only so many P-traps to unclog. I tried my thumb as a farmer, but my corn never grew beyond Barbie portions. I gave gambling the ole college try, but every scratcher I bought from Family Fare went bust, just like my bracket.

Out of ideas and work, I decided to take a job writing high school sports. It’s almost a real job, too, with plenty of office grunt work to go around. Despite my lofty status as a glorified office temp, I’ve never forgotten where I’ve come from. And I know that even through the multiple parking tickets and all the classes I’ve botched, that Grand Valley State University’s been good to me.

Good enough that I always try to give back when I can. Not with money, but with something better; my platform. During every high school sports season – from water polo to basketball to gymnastics to rugby – hundreds of games from across the state of Michigan are funneled through my desk, and with every game, I make mental notes of players to watch. The writers with the best flair. I monitor the stats, get the inside scoop from coaches and seek out the kids that are born playmakers and game-changers; especially the ones that might look good in Laker blue.

I’ve made some headway, too.

The sons of celebrities like Bobbie Hull, Calvin Hill, Barry Sanders, Ken Griffey Jr., Deion Sanders, Ray Lewis, Bruce Smith, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Snoop Lion, Will Smith, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana and Archie Manning have all been heavily recruited, and Evander Holyfield’s son Elijah appears to be on the same path. One of the most highly sought after running backs in the class of 2016, GVSU won’t be on his radar, but if and when Koraun Mayweather – son of Money Floyd – starts playing a sport, the Lakers should be the first on the scene. I do have my doubts that a 15-year old who drives a Bentley golf cart can develop the work ethic requisite to fuel a successful athletic career, but bringing a Mayweather back to West Michigan could create quite a splash.

As the Michigan high school basketball playoffs move to the Breslin Center for the Class A through D championships, I’ve also been scouting prep hoopsters in hopes of finding the right player to supplant All-GLIAC second-teamer Ryan Sabin. Justin Greason’s 28 points and spot-on Willis Reed impression in Eisenhower’s 61-52 Class A district final victory against Utica on March 13 was impressive, and the promising 6-foot-10 post will play his ball at GVSU next season. So will Zach West, a Sabin-esque slashing guard from Illinois. But why stop there?

When reigning Mr. Basketball Deyonta Davis led defending Class A champ Muskegon up against Magic Johnson’s alma mater and Mr. Basketball finalist Trevor Manuel, it pained me to know that Davis was bound for MSU while Manuel had committed to Oregon. It’s equally disappointing to know that third Mr. Basketball finalist Eric Davis of Saginaw Arthur Hill – who Manuel will play in a state semifinal game Friday – got roped in by Texas, but junior point guard Cassius Winston of U-D Jesuit – who will play in the other semifinal – has only given a verbal to Michigan. It’s a perfect opportunity for Louie to pounce. 

If my study abroad exploits ever extend beyond a day trip to Canada, I promise to diligently scout for the next Serge Ibaka/Manute Bol/Yao Ming/Saleh just like Kevin Bacon did in Air Up There. See I really do hope to one day repay my debt to GVSU by guiding an athlete or writer much better than myself to become a Laker, elevating the program, and if the powers at be wished to build a statue of me in homage next to the MIP library for all of my innovation and assistance, I wouldn’t say no. It’s a nice sentiment, if I do say so myself, but the truth is GVSU doesn’t need it. 

Unlike me, the athletic program nor the Lanthorn is dependent on harebrained plots or pipe dream efforts to get by. The Lakers might steal away the occasional borderline blue chip prospect like Jamie Potts or Jimmy Berezik, or produce an award-winning writer like Brian Beaupied, but most of the program’s brightest contributors are home made. GVSU’s elite coaches like Jerry Baltes (and formerly Doc Woods and Dave DiIanni) are known for their ability to bring out the best in their athletes, and it’s the students that for one reason or another were overlooked by bigger schools eager to prove themselves that so often excel.

When I’m not off trapping furs or digging ditches, I’ll keep looking for GVSU’s next big thing. Besides, it’s my job (some of the time) to deliver the scoop. I’m sure GVSU will keep looking, too. 

Until then, expect the next big thing from GVSU to be unexpected. To be drawn to GVSU, and not the other way around. It’s more fun that way anyhow.