Saline Seniors Reflect on Basketball Season

 03/31/2017 - 19:42

The Saline High School basketball program put a wrap on its 2016-17 season at its annual banquet Sunday afternoon at the Saline Middle School. Varsity Head Coach Jacob Fosdick presented the Dave Hughes Award to Jake Finkbeiner, a senior guard and co-captain of the team. Hughes was a former teacher and assistant basketball coach who passed away several years ago. The award is presented to the player who represents the characteristics inherent in Coach Hughes, namely someone who puts the program ahead of themselves. The award was presented to Finkbeiner by last year’s recipient Ryan Foley. Finkbeiner and Foley made up this year’s “Dynamic Duo” on the team.

Fosdick provided some facts about the accomplishments of this year’s team. These included:

  • Most regular season wins in Saline since 2006
  • Highest finish in the SEC (2nd Place)
  • 1st win against Ann Arbor Huron High School in 10 years
  • 1st time in 15 years where the team swept AA Pioneer
  • Seniors leaving with the most career wins against Ann Arbor teams
  • Team was #1 in points allowed in the SEC, (total team defense) for the 2nd year in a row
  • All fourteen players on the team combined had an overall Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.59 – the highest of all winter sports teams at SHS
  • All nine seniors on this year’s varsity team were recognized as all SEC Scholar Athletes for the second year in a row. Coach Fosdick has coached the SHS varsity basketball team for two years. These two teams have had a total of 14 seniors. All 14 have been honored as scholar athletes.
  • This year the varsity squad beat three previous SEC District champions

As in previous years, this reporter asked the seniors were asked to answer the following questions:

  1. What have you enjoyed most from your time at SHS? What courses have you enjoyed the most?
  2. What has it been like to be an athlete at SHS for you? What do you consider to be your number one sport?
  3. Reflecting on the 2016-17 basketball season, what has this year taught you that you can use in your life going forward?
  4. As your time at SHS is coming to an end, what advice do you have for your teammates and student-athletes who will come after you?
  5. What is next for you. What are your plans following graduation from SHS?

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Jake Finkbeiner: Co-captain and recognized as 1st team All SEC

Jake said that “playing sports with all of my teammates and creating new relationships along the way” was what he enjoyed the most. His favorite courses were psychology and business classes. He said “being an athlete at SHS has been a big responsibility yet was a privilege play for the city you love.” Jake considers baseball to be his #1 sport (but he sure could dribble and shoot with the best of them). When asked to reflect on the 2016-17 season, Finkbeiner said “this season has taught me that time will be tough and there will be bumps in the road but the only way through it is to be relentless.” Jake offered the following advice to future athletes “don’t take anything for granted. Play every game like it’s your last cause you never know when your last one will be.” Jake will forever be remembered with teammate and fellow co-captain Ryan Foley as a part of “The Dynamic Duo”. Jake reports that he plans to attend Wayne State University to study business and construction management and play baseball. Go Warriers!

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Ryan Foley: Co-captain and recognized as All SEC Honorable Mention

Ryan said that he “enjoyed all the friendships the most and all the people I have met making these years fun”. He said his favorite course was marketing but he also enjoyed cadet teaching. Ryan said “it has been a great experience playing at SHS because of how much sports means to the school and town. He considers baseball to be his number sport. (But wow could he play hoops! Foley, along with Finkbeiner, thrilled SHS crowds with their fiery play as a part of the Dynamic Duo). Ryan said that as he looked back on the year he thought that it taught him “to cherish all the little moments that don’t seem that important at the time but in the end, they all add up.” His advice to future student-athletes is similar to what athletes in the past have said, “the end comes faster than you think and making sure you have fun every chance you get playing at a competitive level.” Ryan plans for what comes next are still in the planning stage but he hopes to “play baseball at a college or university somewhere”.

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Calder Pellerin: All SEC Honorable Mention

Calder said he “enjoyed the wide range of courses offered at SHS. He said his CAD class was his favorite. He identified “the support the school and community give you is unreal” and something that he enjoyed the most. His number one sport is basketball. Calder reflected on the season and thought the season had “taught me to keep going no matter if you are on a high or low point in the season.” His advice for future student-athletes was “just keep fighting, your teammates are always going to have your back and you should surround yourself with people who want you to succeed.” (Very good advice Calder). Calder will be playing basketball this fall at Kalamazoo College. Go Hornets! Yes, he is leaving one Hornet’s nest and flying to another.

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Justin “Juice” Zylstra: All SEC Honorable Mention

Juice said he “enjoyed the Saline atmosphere the most. It was the best experience of my life and I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else.” Justin enjoyed science the most, and history. As was very obvious on the court, Juice considers basketball to be his #1 sport. “It has been a fun experience with my teammates, my coaches and our community.” He says this season has taught him to “never give up and always keep fighting.” Jimmy V would be very proud to hear you say that. His advice to other student-athletes is to understand that “there is no off season and you have to keep working to reach success. Time flies, be sure to enjoy the ride.” Justin plans to study construction management at either Michigan States University or Central Michigan University. Go Spartans or Chips!

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Sean Millspaugh:

Sean said he “enjoyed making new friends through the various sports he played.” His favorite courses were all the math courses he has taken at SHS. Sean said being an athlete at SHS to have been a fun experience and he enjoyed being an athlete. He considers baseball to be his #1 sport. As Sean has reflected on the season he said that it has taught him to “be accountable for my actions, be humble and a reliable person”. He advises younger student-athletes to “really know what you want to accomplish in joining a sports team and make sure it is a realistic possibility before being trapped in a situation you end up not liking.” Sean said he wanted to play baseball in college but is unsure where that will be.

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Nate Gresser: Recognized as the All SEC Sportsmanship Award

Nate said that he “enjoyed the memories and friends he has made throughout his four years at SHS. He said he enjoyed studying business and that has inspired him to study business in college. Nate said that “it has been an unbelievable experience being able to play two sports at SHS. I wouldn’t change a thing. He considers football to be his #1 sport because “he fell in love with the sport and has so many memories on the grid iron. He said he learned “to be patient as things aren’t going to go the way you want and you need to be able to adjust. Also, cherish the time you get because it might only be a short time.” Nate offers to those who are coming after him, “have fun and enjoy it. Time will fly by so cherish the memories, your teammates and the friends that you will make.” Nate plans on attending Michigan State University and will study marketing. Go Spartans.

Nick Herrin:

Nick said that “creating friendships and finding out my interests” were what he has enjoyed most at SHS. He said he loved AP psychology and his marketing class. Nick thought that being an athlete at SHS had its challenges. “Being an athlete at SHS means you sometimes get overlooked. High school is all about work.” He considers basketball to be his #1 sport. Nick reflected on the season and said “the 2016-17 season had some tough times but I learned to come every day ready to work hard no matter that outcome.” He offers the following to other student-athletes, “you have to have heart to play this game.” (I couldn’t agree more). Nick plans on attending Michigan State University in the fall. Go Green! Go White!

My apologies to Mitch Carter and Preston Filla. Their stories were not a part of the players’ responses and could not be included with this story.

Coach Fosdick remarked at the banquet that though the team achieved some success this season, his goal for the program is for the program to be remembered for the championships it has won. From Rosati, Foley, Finkbeiner, Pellerin, Zylstra and the rest of the SHS students to put on a hoops jersey, they expect nothing less.

SHS basketball can borrow a page from this reporter’s favorite hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens. Inside the Canadiens locker room is a very famous saying (although it is in French and I don’t know French) and I’m sure the Canadians won’t care if you borrow it. It is from the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields” and it reads:

“To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be it yours to hold it high.”

Emmett “The Beast” Turner and Connor “The Junior Beast” Terech, and all the rest of you that will form next year’s team, you get the message? See everyone again in the late fall.