Sports commission names athletes of the year
A regional sports nonprofit has named its male and female athletes of the year.
Following the Meijer State Games of Michigan-Summer Games, the West Michigan Sports Commission chooses its male, female and youth Athlete of the Year. The organization also chooses a Volunteer of the Year.
Jade Walleman, Cory Bush, Alex Garcia and Joe Pontious were the winners this year.
The winners are based on nominations from coaches, parents, peers and spectators, and chosen based on five pillars of character: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.
Female Athlete of the Year
The 35-year-old Bush competed in speedskating and track and field during last year’s Meijer State Games of Michigan, winning her age division in speedskating.
Bush is a nurse at Mercy Health, as well as head coach of the Kalamazoo chapter of the West Michigan Speedskating Club and an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids chapter.
Male Athlete of the Year
Garcia, 23, competed in rugby and wrestling during the 2014 Meijer State Games and medaled in three disciplines.
He qualified for nationals during three of his four years of wrestling at Saginaw Valley State University.
Garcia is a certified bronze coach through USA Wrestling and coaches three teams throughout the year. Last season, he coached an All-American at SVSU.
Youth Athlete of the Year
Walleman competed in track and field during last year’s Meijer State Games in shotput and the 50-meter dash.
The 10-year-old also fences, and placed third at regionals recently in addition to many other medals and trophies in the past.
Volunteer of the Year
Pontious has volunteered with the Meijer State Games of Michigan since it was started and has been crucial to the success of the girls’ lacrosse tournament, as it has seen the number of competing teams increase from 12 to 30.