Fall 2021 semester-in-review: Sports

Allante Leapheart’s journey to GV: a decade in the making

GVL / Lauren Seymour

The recruitment process for the Grand Valley State University football team doesn’t begin and end with statistics and headshots, especially when someone like Allante Leapheart enters the room. When coach Matt Mitchell evaluates new recruits to build his team, high character personalities are what he looks for first and foremost.

When Leapheart entered the transfer portal at 28-years old, he had already played football for a number of years at several schools. Mitchell was interested in meeting the person behind the impressive statistics that Leaphart racked up since his high school graduation.

“He was in my office for a while and just kind of went through his whole backstory,” Mitchell said. “(He was in) a very unique situation and we just really appreciated his grit. You know, he’s been through a lot, and we really saw a guy that was hungry yet humble and we thought he’d be a great fit for our squad.”

To read more of Sports Editor Holly Bihlman’s feature on Allante Leaphart, click here

Deanne Scanlon announces retirement, Jason Johnson steps in as third head coach in the history of the women’s volleyball program

GVL / Annabelle Robinson

On Tuesday, July 27, 26-year head coach for the women’s volleyball team, Deanne Scanlon, announced her retirement. Scanlon leaves Grand Valley State University as the all-time winningest coach in the history of the program with an overall record of 615-225 and a legendary set of accomplishments over the course of her career.

Scanlon took the reins from GVSU Hall of Fame leader, Joan Boand, as the head coach of the volleyball team in 1995, and is now passing the torch to assistant coach, Jason Johnson, for the upcoming 2021 season. Scanlon’s career achievements started and ended with GVSU, totaling out to nine NCAA regional championships, a 2005 NCAA DII National Championship, 29 All-Americans, and a GLIAC record of 305-108. Although her impressive list of achievements will be a large part of what she’ll be remembered for at GVSU, her character and drive is what made her a legend in the program’s history.

Now, Coach Johnson, who has been working with Scanlon for 22 years—20 of those as the assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team—is stepping up to the plate.

To hear more about Coach Scanlon’s retirement from Holly Bihlman, click here

Makenna Schoolman’s triumphant return to the field

Courtesy / Jake Levy

Following Grand Valley State University women’s soccer’s 2019 season championship, senior defender Makenna Schoolman was on cloud nine. There was nothing in her way from going into her senior season in 2020 and trying for a repeat win with her team. It wasn’t until the disastrous COVID-19 pandemic and a career-threatening injury that her hope for another stellar season began to fade.

When she was sent home due to COVID-19, Schoolman and her teammates consequently spent a long summer off-season doing individual workouts from home, still trying to stay in shape for what they hoped to be another season. After the hard work spent in those long months, the team was informed that the 2020 fall soccer season was canceled.

To further explore Josh Carlson’s conversation with Makenna Schoolman, click this link

GV track and field alumnus, Chris Hammer, eyes gold at 2020 Paralympics

Courtesy / World Triathlon

The 2020 Olympic Games have begun with the 2020 Paralympic Games right around the corner. Grand Valley State University alumnus, Chris Hammer, will once again compete for Team USA in the Paralympic Games. Hammer, a 2009 graduate and five-time NCAA Division II Track All-American, will try and go for the gold medal in the Paratriathlon in August.

Hammer found a passion for running at a young age, but it wasn’t his first sport of choice.

“In high school my favorite sport was ice hockey,” Hammer said. “I played ice hockey all through senior year for a city league and actually won the state championship. I was all about it, but it was apparent that my challenge worked in distance running. If I was going to continue playing sports in college it was not going to be ice hockey, it was going to be running. I liked running, I liked the fact you could push yourself and it’s so simple. It’s basically you trying to beat someone else, and I liked that aspect of that.”

To read more of Shawn Robinson’s interview with Chris Hammer, click here

Abby Graham leads GV volleyball team in her final season

GVL Archives

On the Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team, junior outside hitter Abby Graham is one of the team’s leaders this season, placing a big emphasis on the value of a healthy team comradery and a winning culture. Graham is in the midst of her fourth and final season with the volleyball team, looking to lead the Lakers to their second consecutive first-place finish in the GLIAC South.

“My class was pretty big and the class under us was pretty big,” Graham said. “We took them under our wing and we are all super close. I really think that we have made a culture that is fun to be a part of and we all just love each other and have so much fun together.”

To read more of Justice Steiner’s Abby Graham feature, click here

Men’s and Women’s Club Wrestling moves up to varsity status for the 2023 season

GVL Archives

Grand Valley State University will be adding men’s and women’s wrestling to their catalog of club varsity sports for the 2023 season. GVSU alumni John and Diane Harris, from the classes of 77’ and 76’, fueled the addition after a generous lead donation of three million dollars.

GVSU has been without a men’s wrestling team since 1993 after the University canceled the program. The team’s first season was in 1967-1968, and in its short history, the program saw success as they won the GLIAC conference five times, had six National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) individual national champions, and three DII individual national championships. Meanwhile, the women’s wrestling team will be the first in the university’s history.

To dive deeper into James Herrick’s deep dive into GVSU’s club wrestling team, visit this link

GV Football shuts out Davenport, finishes season 9-1

GVL / Tyler Morris

The no. 5 ranked Grand Valley State University (9-1) football team closed out their regular season slate with a shutout against Davenport University (3-8) 42-0. The team finished their season 6-1 in GLIAC play and continued their 4-game win streak. This game was the first time GVSU shutout since 2017, when they shut out both Davenport and Northwood University.

“At the end of the day, we still have to come in and do the small things like come in and watch tape, practice hard on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and execute the walkthrough,” said senior running back Bryce Young-Walls. “It’s obviously a good thing to go into next week playing like this.”

To read more of Brian Bloom’s coverage of GVSU’s game against Davenport Univesity, click here