Follow Josh VanDyke on Twitter

Reeths-Puffer junior Sophia Hekkema (23) dribbles the ball down the courtroom through the fourth quarter of a Division 1 women basketball district semifinals recreation between Reeths-Puffer and Kenowa Hills at Reeths-Puffer Excessive Faculty in Muskegon on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The Reeths-Puffer Rockets beating the Kenowa Hills Knights 56-37. (Daniel Shular |

MUSKEGON – One of the best leaders and function fashions are those who put within the additional work behind the scenes when there is no such thing as a fanfare or particular consideration placed on them.

Those who keep after observe for additional reps, present up early to class to get some additional finding out in, or dedicate hours of their very own time to provide again to the group round them.

Every year, the Muskegon Sports activities Corridor of Fame makes an attempt to discover a female and male student-athlete from the area people who exemplifies these traits and the 2023 version of the Scholar-Athlete Award shall be going to a pair of well-balanced leaders who take simply as a lot satisfaction of their work within the classroom as they do their athletic achievements within the area of competitors.

Sophia Hekkema of Reeths-Puffer and Matt Danicek of Oakridge had been finally chosen because the 2023 Muskegon Sports activities Corridor of Fame Scholar-Athlete Award winners as a consequence of their excellent athletic careers, very good work within the classroom and extraordinary volunteer efforts of their native communities.

The 2 senior standouts shall be acknowledged throughout a Corridor of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, June 10 on the VanDyk Mortgage Conference Heart in Muskegon. Tickets value $50 for most people and might be bought on-line by clicking right here.

The Muskegon Space Sports activities Corridor of Fame Board of Administrators places collectively a subcommittee every spring after receiving one male and one feminine candidate from every faculty within the Muskegon space for the annual Scholar-Athlete Award. Every candidate is required to be a senior at their faculty with a confirmed monitor file within the area of competitors and inside the classroom.

The subcommittee then selects 5 female and male finalists from the pool of candidates and finally selects a winner for both sides of the award.

This yr’s Gary Ostrom Male Scholar-Athlete Award finalists additionally included Shane Cook dinner of Whitehall, Jordan Briggs of Muskegon, Hunter Hogan of Ravenna, and Sam Kartes of Muskegon Catholic Central.

The extra finalists for the Dick Hedges Feminine Scholar-Athlete Award included Natalie Pannucci of North Muskegon, Lexie Bowers of Kent Metropolis, Emma Gillard of Ravenna, and Emma Peterson of Montague.

For Sophia Hekkema, the particular acknowledgment serves as a rewarding reminder that arduous work and dedication doesn’t go unnoticed in most walks of life.

“I really feel like lots of people do acknowledge me as a tough employee, particularly in my faculty, however it’s form of refreshing to know that different folks even outdoors my direct group acknowledge that too,” she informed MLive after studying of her first-place end for the award. “I do work so onerous as each a scholar and an athlete, so it’s all the time an excellent feeling if you get rewarded for the work you set in.”

Hekkema holds a 3.861 GPA within the classroom, obtained a gold commencement twine, is a two-time Nationwide Honor Society member, was tutorial all-state in basketball twice (2022-23) and was tutorial all-state in volleyball in 2022.

The standout athlete for the Rockets earned 13 varsity letters together with volleyball (4), basketball (4), soccer (4) and monitor (1). As a volleyball standout, Hekkema was a two-time all-conference choice and a two-time all-area choice.

She used her uncommon mixture of measurement, velocity and agility to her benefit on the basketball courtroom, the place she was a two-time All-State choice, a four-time all-conference choice, a four-time member of the MLive Muskegon Dream Staff and helped the Rockets to a few convention championships and a district championship in 2020.

Hekkema was voted a staff captain thrice throughout her highschool profession and was named staff MVP for 3 seasons as effectively. She closed out her highschool basketball profession with greater than 1,000 profession factors scored, which locations her second all-time in class historical past.

Soccer has confirmed to be Hekkema’s high sport, nevertheless, as her skill to play with each physicality and finesse during times of a match has helped her turn out to be one of the vital prolific purpose scorers within the West Michigan space all through her prep profession.

The senior phenom has already damaged the varsity file for objectives scored in a single season with 22 objectives in every of the earlier two springs. She was named staff MVP twice (2021, 2022), received the Golden Boot Award (most objectives scored) twice and received the Winger Award (most assists) twice. She is a two-time all-conference choice, a two-time all-district choice, a two-time all-region choice, a two-time MHSSCA all-state choice and was a first-team choice within the 2022 MLive Muskegon Dream Staff.

Regardless of a busy workload, Hekkema believes her regimented life-style as an athlete has helped her excel in each elements of her life.

“Folks assume that I’m so busy on a regular basis and I don’t have time outdoors of faculty and sports activities, however sports activities have actually helped me keep a schedule and be goal-oriented,” she added. “I can take a look at my day and take into consideration my courses, then observe, after which after I get house from observe, I’ve this set period of time to do homework. I’ve all the time discovered that having a schedule is tremendous useful and has allowed me to remain on all my duties.”

Hekkema takes satisfaction in her work as a student-athlete so giving 100% effort is nothing new to her.

“It was tough, particularly this yr being my senior yr and there’s the entire senioritis factor too,” she mentioned of the challenges of being an excellent scholar and athlete. “I generally is a procrastinator at instances, however I’ve all the time form of prided myself in doing my work and making an attempt to get it completed to one of the best of my skills. I by no means be ok with myself after I don’t decide to one thing that I’m concerned in, so I all the time be sure to take satisfaction in every little thing that I do whether or not that’s how onerous I play after I’m enjoying a sport or how I carry out within the classroom and the grades that I earn.

“I’m going to depart all of it on the sector after I’m enjoying soccer, and I wish to go away all of it within the classroom too after I’m in school.”

As a pacesetter in her group, Hekkema has spent three years on the IMPACT Membership at Reeths-Puffer, which is a scholar management group that helps establish and implement alternatives for engagement and enchancment at their faculty.

She has additionally been a Pupil Council Trustee twice (2021, 2022), a two-time peer tutor and is on the Reeths-Puffer scholar management board this yr. She helped set up, elevate funds and lead a staff of scholars to honor native veterans throughout a girls and boys varsity basketball recreation this previous winter.

Hekkema additionally participated in a group outreach program that related with a neighborhood protection enterprise and introduced the necessity for service canines for a veteran’s group, which resulted in a $3,000 sponsorship for the varsity’s veterans’ night time occasion. The occasion raised over $5,000 in donations to current to the Jaeger Basis.

She has additionally been concerned as a volunteer for the Feeding America Meals Truck program for the previous seven years and has helped help within the setup, group and handing out of meals to these in want.

The longer term Michigan State College scholar has additionally hung out volunteering as a youth basketball and soccer coach at Reeths-Puffer youth camps.

“Earlier than I even acquired into highschool and the Nationwide Honor Society, the place you must volunteer to be concerned in it, I might assist out with my church’s meals vans,” mentioned Hekkema. “I don’t know why precisely however it simply has all the time felt tremendous rewarding, particularly after I was youthful, to have the ability to assist different folks. I acquired to do some volunteer work with my grandparents too, which was a good way for us to attach after I was youthful and I feel it’s essential to provide again to your group nevertheless you may.”

Oakridge’s Matt Danicek (3) runs at Muskegon Catholic Central on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. Oakridge received 20-14. (Cory Morse |

For Matt Danicek, the chance to be named the highest senior student-athlete in his group is an enormous deal.

“I simply really feel proud – it’s an excellent accomplishment to get,” he mentioned. “It’s all the time good to get your work completed within the classroom since you by no means know what your future’s going to be and that’s all the time a plus having that on the facet.”

As an athlete, Danicek has excelled in soccer (4 years), basketball (4 years) and baseball (4 years). He was named all-regional, all-district and all-conference in soccer this previous season, together with All-State honors as a defensive again from the MHSFCA and was an honorable point out choice at quarterback within the MLive Muskegon Dream Staff offense. He additionally obtained honorable point out all-conference honors in basketball and was named tutorial all-conference after sustaining a 3.683 GPA all through his highschool profession.

The senior chief was one of many key playmakers for the Oakridge soccer staff at quarterback, as he helped energy the Eagles to a 10-2 season. Danicek completed with 446 yards dashing and 7 touchdowns and was 104-for-157 passing for 1,401 yards and 13 touchdowns on offense. As a defensive again, Danicek had a team-high three interceptions and 7 go breakups to go together with 18 tackles.

“(Soccer) is simply approach totally different,” he mentioned of his love for the sport. “Basketball and baseball have a a lot totally different really feel and never all people is concerned. In soccer, we’re all going to battle collectively and we’re simply battling for one another. It’s approach totally different.”

The versatile student-athlete can be a Magna Wire recipient, a Nationwide Honor Society member, and an honor roll recipient. He additionally volunteers his time at youth basketball camps round Oakridge, gymnastics meets, 5k races and recycling occasions.

Danicek plans to attend Muskegon Group School subsequent fall the place he plans to get his affiliate’s diploma and doubtlessly pursue a enterprise profession.

The 2023 Muskegon Space Sports activities Corridor of Fame induction class contains long-time Fruitport volleyball coach Dan Potts, former Newaygo soccer standout Joe Berger, the 2009-2012 Mona Shores women golf staff and the 1953 Muskegon St. Joseph boys basketball staff. Frank Coletta, a longtime volunteer and supporter of youth and highschool sports activities in Ravenna, will be a part of the category because the 2023 Gene Younger Distinguished Service Award winner.

For extra data on the Muskegon Space Sports activities Corridor of Fame and its upcoming occasions, try the committee’s Fb web page.


Muskegon Space Sports activities Corridor of Fame declares 2023 honorary class

Muskegon Sports activities Corridor’s 2022 Pupil-Athlete Award winners displayed 4 years of dominance

Muskegon Space Sports activities Corridor of Fame declares 2022 honorary class

By Editor

Leave a Reply