TRAVERSE CITY — The coaching carousel isn’t just for the NFL.
Large numbers of prominent area coaching spots swapped hands this year, changing the landscape of student-athlete’s experience at many schools.
Big changes in area coaching positions is No. 9 in the Record-Eagle’s top 10 sports stories of 2020.
Most notably, the tragic passing of Belaire football coach Brock Robinson in April.
“He was such a pillar in our community,” Bellaire athletic director Brad Fischer said. “If you think of Bellaire football for the last 23 years, Brock Robinson goes along with it.”
Robinson graduated from Bellaire High School in 1983 and went on to Central Michigan University. Robinson joined the Eagles coaching staff as an assistant in 1997 under George Pratt and took over as head coach of the Eagles football program in 2013.
He led the Eagles to a 31-35 record as a head coach and served as an assistant on the baseball team for a short time during his tenure. Robinson was the head chef at Bellaire High School and a fixture in the lives of many Bellaire students.
“Brock had the biggest heart,” Fischer said. “Everyday before practice he would swing in my office and he absolutely believed in everybody and gave everybody a chance.
“He didn’t care who you were, he gave you an opportunity and believed in you and thought you could bring something to the team.”
Tom Baeckeroot assumed the Eagles’ coaching job. Max Huntoon filled in for Brian Mumby at Forest Area, giving the Warriors a first-year coach.
Many other coaching jobs changed simply because of coaches moving on to other opportunities or seeking more time with family.
Glen Lake saw four longtime successful coaches depart. Football coach Jerry Angers, basketball head coach Rich Ruelas, cross country coach Ryan Schut and basketball Hall of Famer Don Miller, who still served as an assistant under Ruelas after his retirement (which ironically opened up a teaching job Schut took 12 years ago), all stepped away from coaching.
Several Traverse City Area Public Schools positions saw new hires as well. Stephen Draper takes over the TC Central boys basketball program after Travis Schuba accepted the women’s basketball head coaching position at Davenport University and former TC West goaltender Savanna Wojtanowski steps into the girls soccer job with the Titans.
Jeremy Wilkinson stepped back into the Kalkaska football job after a tumultuous several years for the program since he resigned to spend more time with his family.
Travis Triem takes over the Frankfort baseball program, and Kip Damgard takes the reins with the Cadillac girls basketball program after Mike McLaurin stepped down.
Boyne City saw both its basketball coaching positions change, with Randy Calcaterra taking over for Nick Redman on the boys side and athletic director Adam Stefanski stepping in to coach the girls, following Julie Redman’s departure.
Central Lake got a new athletic director in Nick Hopp after Mark Beasley took a job downstate.
Numerous other coaching jobs opened and closed, painting a new picture on the Northern Michigan high school sports landscape.