bulldogs, chelsea, chelsea high school, football, sports

Chelsea Football, It All Starts Here

 

DSC_5842As the Chelsea varsity football team begins its playoff run, it’s good to look back and reflect on the football program where most of these players came from. Many are born and raised in Chelsea and have played in the program since middle school. All Chelsea players live in Chelsea since there is no school of choice or open recruitment. And their high school football careers all began as a freshman under Head Coach Dennis Strzyzewski.

The 2017 freshman football team is coming off its only second undefeated season in the programs rich traditional history. The only other freshman team to go undefeated were the seniors of the 2015 team which went to the state championship game. Strzyzewski has been coaching the freshman for 15 years with great results. His only coaching style is that he tries to be as honest as possible with the kids. He works to get them to demand more from themselves.

“My biggest goal is that everyone on the team always puts the team needs in front of their individual wants,” Strzyzewski stated. “We also try to make everything competitive and fun.  We are blessed to have a lot of really smart kids in Chelsea, so we are able to ask them to do some pretty complex things at a young age.”
Strzyzewski began his football career at Manistee, Michigan. When he’s not coaching on the gridiron he coaches boys and girls basketball at the middle school. He has coached basketball for 14 of his 19 years in Chelsea. He also is the Beach Middle School Guidance Counselor.
It was a spectacular season for the young Bulldogs as there were many highlights of such a great season. The very first game of the season they fell behind to Monroe 14-0 within the first 5 minutes of the games and Monroe actually scored on the first play of the game.  But the kids just kept playing, battling back, listening to assistant coaches Adam French, Jared Beaver,  and defensive line Coach Mikal Nelson and ended up winning 36-28.
“After losing big in middle school, which is expected, we didn’t know how our kids would respond to the rough start,” Strzyzewski said. “But they stepped up to the challenge.”
The last game was eerily similar.  They were down 7-0 after the first play and 14-0 four minutes into the game at Holt.  Again, the kids just kept competing.  Down 21-7 at the half, they came back to take a 28-21 lead in the third.  Again, they fell behind 37-28 with 5 minutes left.  But the kids kept believing eventually scoring with a minute left to win 38-37.
“That was probably the most fun I have had coaching a freshman game,” said Strzyzewski.
Coach Strzyzweski says “I keep getting older but the kids stay the same age.”  He explains that the freshman are fun because they are so raw when he gets them in August, but he gets to see them build confidence as they improve.  By the end of the season, they are a completely different team.  He says it is hard at times because every year, they are kind of starting over, and they need to remember that although they have done this a thousand times, it is the first time for this group of kids. The great thing is that they get to know these kids in a whole new way, and they have a ton of fun.  Every day there is something to laugh about, and he feels like he builds relationships with the kids and that is what really matters.
“People talk about the lessons we learn from football”,  Strzyzweski states.  “I think our kids learned that if you just keep playing, keep competing, things often work out.  You can win all of the time, but continuing to battle will give you a chance to be successful.  My hope is they apply this to school, jobs, and relationships.  Everything they do will have a chance to be successful as long as they just kept pushing even when it seems too difficult.”
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basketball, sports, Uncategorized

Williamston Basketball’s Freshman Mitchell Cook Looking To The Future

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Williamston’s Mitchell Cook Drives for 2 in the quarterfinals game 

Basketball season might be over for some but not for Williamston Hornet Freshman Mitchell Cook. Cook will be practicing as much as possible and be getting ready for next season as his Hornets look to go deep into the Class B basketball playoffs again. In 2016 the Hornets made it to the state semi-finals at the Breslin Center, while this past year they were defeated on a 3-point shot with only 3 seconds left in the quarterfinals.

It takes a lot of talent to be able to play on the Williamston team, coached by Class B Coach of the year Tom Lewis. There are high expectations each and every season. But Cook was able to make the team as a freshman, which says a lot about his playing ability, as well as earning a spot starting as the season went on.

Cook has been playing competitive basketball since the  4th grade. He knew he was going to make varsity on the last day of tryouts.

“It felt really good to make varsity,” Cook said. “it was great to know that all my hard work and dedication has paid off.”

Cook had an excellent freshman season as he brought an extra spark and intensity to a great team. He didn’t feel the pressure of playing against more experienced and bigger and older competition because he feels he brings a toughness to the team and some great defensive skills.

“I didn’t feel any pressure until really late in the regular season and postseason, knowing that’s when you really have to minimize your mistakes,” Cook explained. “But although the games got tougher, so did my team.”

In the semi-final game against River Rouge, Cook drove the baseline and made a great underhanded shot and was appeared to be fouled on the play but the referee strangely called a charging foul against Cook and River Rouge was able to hit a 3 point shot for the victory with almost no time left.

“That was really tough,” Cook said. “I took that loss pretty hard and so did my team. Especially the seniors because that was the last high school game ever.”

Williamston brings back another team of talent next season and the young Cook has gained much experience along with several of his teammates and they look to make another big run for the championship next season.

“I feel like next year we can go just as far if not farther,” Cook stated. “Knowing that we have a lot of great guys coming back.”

Cook is the son of Andy and Jen Cook. He has an older sister Sadie and a younger sister Sophie.

 

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basketball, girls, high school, high school basketball, mhsaa, sports

Big Things In Chelsea Basketball’s Riley Davis Future

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Chelsea Freshman Riley Davis at the free throw line (photo by Tressie Davis Photography)

It’s not very often that a freshman player gets the opportunity to show their talent on the Chelsea Girls Varsity basketball team, especially since the team is usually in contention for the SEC Conference championship every year. But Chelsea Head  Coach Todd Blomquist believes in her talent enough to where he called the 14-year-old Riley Davis up at the beginning of the season. 

“Riley has a tremendous skill set,” Coach Blomquist stated. “She can handle the ball well, shoots it well, and is learning to defend at the varsity level. She has progressed nicely at this level and has the potential to have a  very bright future.”

Riley has been playing sports as long as she remembers and she played other sports such as soccer and softball. She also plans on competing in track this spring and looks forward to trying track and competing in the high jump. But her first love always has been basketball.

“I have grown up in a basketball family, but I feel even if I didn’t I would still have a passion for basketball,” Riley stated. “I had a lot of sports choices growing up, and fortunately my parents encouraged me in all ways and let me find my own way. When it comes to basketball, I really like the practices and the game itself, where other sports I didn’t like the practice. In basketball, I enjoy anything that helps me grow as a player whether it’s conditioning, doing drills, or just going to to the gym to shoot.”

The all A 4.0 student still recalls that day when Coach Blomquist approached her to make the big move to the varsity team.

“Coach Blomquist called me out to the track from my freshman fitness class and asked me “You ready to make the jump?”, Riley said explaining that fateful day. “I was very honored but nervous. It was hard to feel anything but nerves at that point. I went back to class and was shaking with energy and adrenaline. I couldn’t keep my mind off it. But I know I would have been more scared if I wasn’t in Chelsea because I knew all the varsity girls.”

Riley is hard not to notice on or off the court with her big smile and her 5 foot 11-inch, and still growing, frame. Riley is a true competitor and has been placed in several clutch situations this season for the Bulldogs and has handled the pressure quite well. Since she is the youngest girl on the team, she wants to work hard and learn. She works hard in practices and she hopes to help the team in any way she can. 

“My main goals right now are to work as hard as I can and improve as much as possible,” Riley stated. “I know I have a lot of things to work on so growing as a player is my main focus. I hope to make our team better and someday play basketball in college.”

On many teams in other cities, a freshman wouldn’t be accepted by seniors or varsity players because of egos and attitudes but that isn’t the case at all in Chelsea. The school encourages multiple athletics as well as academics and above all good sportsmanship.

 “I feel more accepted than I ever thought I could,” Riley explains. “This group of girls has been incredibly nice and has treated me amazingly. I feel so blessed to be in Chelsea because I know it’s not like this everywhere. I was very nervous coming into the first practice but the team has made me feel right at home from the beginning. Everyone supports everyone and it’s a fun environment to be in.” 

 

 

Between sports, practices, and keeping up with academics, when Riley does get some free time she likes to spend it being creative and making things. She has always loved art and being active in any way. She really enjoys the outdoors and hiking and spending time with her dogs Lucy, Maizie, and Sophie.

Riley is the daughter of Robert and Tressie Davis. She has an older brother Dom, and younger brother Robby, and younger sister Alex.

(Note: thank you to Tressie Davis Photography for the pictures enclosed in story)

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