By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This weekend was a sad one for those who work in Michigan high school athletics or have appreciated the contributions from three who gave significantly to our games but died after long fights with cancer.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart's Keisha Brown, Grand Haven's Robin Bye and Haslett's Jamie Gent left memorable legacies in their passing – Brown on Thursday, Gent on Friday and Bye on Saturday.
Following are just a few details of their contributions to schools and sports, followed by a handful of Twitter posts celebrating their commitments.
- Brown in 2006 became the first and only female coach to lead a boys team to the MHSAA Basketball Finals, guiding the Irish to the Class D Final before they fell to Wyoming Tri-unity Christian. She also served as principal and athletic director at Sacred Heart and coached the boys basketball team to a 114-30 record before taking over the Alma College women’s program, which she coached through this season. Click to read the memorial column from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun’s Jim Lahde.
"RIP Keisha Brown. What a truly inspiring human being that battled cancer with courage and strength. My thoughts are with her family.” – Oakland Press reporter Drew Ellis, formerly of the Morning Sun
“Rest in Peace Keisha Brown #TrueWarrior. Words cannot express my sadness #HeartBroken.” – Alma College Sports Information Director Mike Hanson
“Thinking of the Bye family tonight. Robin will be missed. As a person and an AD, he made me want to be better a person/coach. God Bless.” – Grand Haven boys basketball coach Steve Hewitt.
- Bye worked in the Grand Haven school system for 34 years, including the last two-plus as athletic director after formerly serving as an assistant and a girls basketball coach. He also had been a middle school art teacher in the district, and last year received its “Spirit of Grand Haven” award for commitment and dedication to Grand Haven schools. Click to read the story on his passing from the Muskegon Chronicle’s Scott Brandenburg.
“I will miss Robin Bye. He made a big difference for the youth in our town, more than an athletic director; an inspiration.” – Grand Haven parent Pat McGinnis
- Gent began his career at Haslett in 1967 as a middle school teacher and high school coach in three sports. He was head coach of the track and field, boys basketball and football varsity teams at different times and began his second stint as the school’s athletic director in 1991. He also was an MHSAA registered official for more than 15 years and a mentor to many both in the Lansing area and statewide through his contributions to the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. He received the MHSAA’s Charles E. Forsythe Award in 2008. See below for a video posted that year in honor of Gent as he retired as athletic director, and click for Dick Hoekstra's piece in the Lansing State Journal posted today.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Jamie Gent, long time Haslett HS athletic director. Really great guy, very kind hearted.” – former Haslett athlete, current White Pigeon teacher/coach Kurt Twichell
“Jamie Gent was one of the best ADs I had the privilege to know. A great loss tonight for the Haslett community.” – Chelsea football coach Brad Bush
PHOTOS: (Clockwise from left) Former Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart boys basketball coach Keisha Brown comforts one of her players after the Irish fell in the Class D Final in 2006. Jamie Gent, left, receives his Charles E. Forsythe Award from Negaunee's Jim Derocher during the 2008 Boys Basketball Finals. Grand Haven athletic director, Robin Bye, is recognized as an assistant coach on the 1981 girls basketball team inducted into the Grand Haven sports Hall of Fame.