WYOMING, Mich — It’s to the point that Brian Shafer doesn’t have to know who’s calling to know what the call is about.
“It’s just, 'hey coach, my team cancelled. Are you guys still taking players?’” Shafer recalls.
But his answer is always the same.
“You have a team,” he says.
Which means sorry, you can’t join his, the home schooled Grand Valley Christian Patriots.
"This program is for kids who don’t have the opportunity," Shafer said.
To make it on this squad, talent is secondary and character is first. So, if playing high school football this fall is your main purpose for joining the team, they don’t want you.
“We have a Christian faith that is unlike any other,” explains senior Lucas Hall. “We are a family.”
Thanks to the MHSAA postponing the high school football season, this family is now the only show in town, since they do not fall under MHSAA jurisdiction. And for the first time in the program’s 20-year history, the spotlight is solely on them.
“Like I told them the first day, 'there’s 15 thousand kids that play football in Michigan and now there’s 30,” Shafer says as his team will take on other home school kids outside of the state.
To be clear, the Patriot’s don’t operate on a high budget. Their practice uniforms are hand-me-downs from other high schools, and a big L shaped contraption that’s made out of wood and resides next to their field, is actually a hand made sled. It may not be an ideal situation, but they make it work.
“It is the enjoyment of playing the sport,” Hall says. “We work with what have because we can’t work with anything else.”
It’s dealing with the cards they’ve been dealt, and in this instance the Patriots finally got a winning hand.
Grand Valley Christian opens the season August 29th, at Middletown in Franklin, Ohio.
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