TRAVERSE CITY — Lake Michigan Conference athletes will soon be wearing green ribbons at spring events as a show of support for league member Grayling, which is coping with tragedy after an accident killed senior Louis Menard and golf coach Jason Potter last week.
The Grayling golf team was en route to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa for a tournament when the two-vehicle accident happened near Kalkaska. Five other team members were injured. Cassandra Stapleton, a passenger in the other vehicle, also died.
Some 1,000 green ribbons will be distributed to league schools at a meeting Wednesday in Charlevoix. Grayling’s school colors are green and white.
“It will show our unity, our support and our concern,” St. Francis athletic director Tom Hardy said.
The ribbons will be worn by all spring sports participants, Hardy said.
The gesture coincides with a similar movement among state high school golf coaches. Dan Picot, golf coach at Rochester Adams and a Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association (MIGCA) board member, originated the ribbon idea.
“I felt strongly about it,” Picot said. “It hit all of us pretty hard. I’ve been doing this for a long time and when things happen like this it makes you reflect. It’s just one way we can always remind ourselves that golf is a great game, but it’s not the most important thing. Life is precious.”
A team member’s mother put the ribbons together.
“We wear them in practice and in events,” Picot said. “We will continue to do so for the rest of the year.”
Picot emailed a picture of the ribbon to Gregg Kirchen, executive director for MIGCA.
“He said this is what we’re doing,’ Kirchen said. “We should consider doing this statewide.”
Kirchen, who visited with Grayling school officials soon after the tragedy, agreed and sent a mass e-mail to more than 800 members with the suggestion. Word was also sent via twitter, Facebook and the organization’s Web site.
“There’s a widespread feeling of support,” Kirchen said of the reaction.
“I coached 35 years,” he added. “We all have had our little incidents where something weird may have happened, but nothing tragic like this. It’s a shocker.”
Picot said Rochester Adams competed in a tournament Saturday and green ribbons were supplied for all player bags by the host school Jackson Lumen Christi.
On Monday, East Jordan coaches passed out ball markers to players in a Lake Michigan Conference golf match at Twin Birch. The markers said “Lake Michigan Conference United” with a Grayling Vikings logo in the center.
The league is also exploring a match to honor Menard, Potter and the Grayling golf team.