By Ron Pesch
NORTON SHORES–SportHouse – the former Norton Pines – is a family affair for the Hogebooms.
Although the establishment, acquired about 2 years ago, could be described as a simple fitness center, it is in reality an amalgamation of the beliefs and philosophies of the former League quarterback national football player, Gary Hogeboom, and his family.
His life has been built around sport, family, bringing people together as a team, working to improve, and ultimately impacting lives through health and fitness.
It’s a desire he shares with his family. Therefore, SportHouse is a place for everyone.
“We are all so similar,” Hogeboom said, reflecting on the diverse population of the region and the desire to bring these communities together. “That’s our main reason for doing this. This is exactly what we want in an establishment.
For him, it’s a reflection of how he raised his children and how he treats people, family and friends.
“We said, “Hey, this area needs it, that would be great for this area, it would help all the communities,” and that’s what we’re trying to do.
A fifth-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1980 from Central Michigan University, Hogeboom played prep sports at Grand Rapids Northview.
He was, by his own description, a latecomer.
“I was one of the smallest kids my freshman year of high school and then grew a lot… my dad grew four inches when he was in college.
At a time when specialization was not the norm, Hogeboom got involved in everything.
“I swam until my ninth grade in a local pool. We had swim practice every morning at 7 a.m.,” he said.
“In high school, in the first year, I played tennis. My sophomore year I played baseball, because I played baseball growing up. I loved playing hockey outside in the winter and doing a lot of things. In my freshman year I knew I had to go faster and faster, so I went out on the trail and threw the disc and raced the 440 and 880.
“I was probably a better basketball player in high school than in football. We didn’t have 7v7 football in the summer. There was no travel balloon as you see now.
Hogeboom became the varsity quarterback in his freshman year, but Northview football team went an unremarkable 3-6 in 1974. However, things improved greatly during his senior season. A 28-8 loss in Week 2 to opponents OK-Red East Grand Rapids was one of only two losses this season. In Week 5, the Wildcats were upset by Jenison, 15-14.
In Game 7 of the year, Hogeboom rushed for 100 yards in a 20-12 win over Holland West Ottawa, and his “one-arm shotgun” impressed the Panthers coach.
“He definitely has the tools to play major college football,” said Delbert ‘Deb’ Nolan.
In Week 8, the Wildcats upset previously undefeated East Kentwood 22-20 and then finished the season with an 18-0 win over coach Fred Julian’s Grand Rapids West Catholic side.
A former University of Michigan football player, Julian played a year in the former American Football League for the New York Titans in 1960. In 1969 he became the head coach of West Catholic and in 1975 , he was one of West Michigan. representatives on the Detroit Free Press Football All-State Board of Directors, completing weekly reports on the area’s top players. A day before his team’s loss to the Wildcats, Julian’s report had recognized Hogeboom — now 6-3 and 185 pounds — as one of the “two most talented quarterbacks in the region.”
At the end of the season, Hogeboom earned honorable mention on the state’s various All-State teams. Both CMU and Mid-American Conference rival Western Michigan University are interested in the quarterback.
What prompted the schools to recruit the athlete from Northview? Hogeboom himself is not sure.
“I did not contact them, they came to me. I had attended a few football camps – maybe they saw me at one of them.
A former Julian QB at West Catholic, Mike Franckowiak, had led Central Michigan University to the NCAA Division II National Championship with a 12-1-0 record in 1974. A year later, CMU became a member at full of Division I, joining the MAC. . Franckowiak spent 4 seasons in the NFL. CMU was a powerful scout for Michigan high schoolers, and to their credit, the Chippewas revisited Grand Rapids for another caller.
After the 1975 season, Central Football head coach Roy Kramer attended a Northview basketball game during Hogeboom’s senior year and offered him a scholarship. He accepted. His high school teammate, Brian Blank, also signed with CMU, a talented split track champion.
At Mt. Pleasant, Hogeboom saw occasional quarterback action in his first and second seasons, playing in place of injured starter Ron Rummel. When Kramer left Central in August 1978 to become athletic director at Vanderbilt University, Herb Deromedi, Kramer’s staff assistant since 1967 and the team’s current defensive coordinator, was named head coach.
Kramer would ultimately serve as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and is considered the father of college football’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
“It was a good transition for me and, I think, for Central Michigan,” Hogeboom recalled. “Roy was successful up there, don’t get me wrong, and he did a lot of great things in the SEC. But I thought (the way) Herb was handling the team was just phenomenal.
Under Deromedi, Hogeboom took charge of the team as a junior, leading the Chippewas to a 9-2-0 mark in 1978. In his senior year, he guided CMU to a 10-0- 1 and the school’s first MAC Championship.
At the end of the season, Hogeboom was named CMU’s MVP and later received the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award. The quarterback completed 208 of 355 career passes for 3,088 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 957 additional yards and 16 touchdowns at Mt. Pleasant. His season caught the attention of the NFL and he had worked for most teams before the draft.
“Obviously, I would have liked to pitch a lot more often in college,” Hogeboom said, recalling the time, “but we were a triple option team and we managed to do that.
The Dallas Cowboys had contacted Hogeboom by letter, but no one had seen him practice.
After a visit to Notre Dame in April, coach Dan Reeves traveled to Grand Rapids. Later a very successful head coach in the NFL, but at that time the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator under coach Tom Landry, Reeves watched Hogeboom pitch during a practice session at the city’s Junior College.
A week later, in a draft that saw the Detroit Lions name Billy Sims as the first player picked, Hogeboom was the eighth of 14 players picked from Michigan colleges. He spent 10 NFL seasons as a quarterback – six with the Cowboys, three with the Indianapolis Colts and one season with the Phoenix Cardinals – and threw for over 9,400 yards and 49 touchdowns in 79 games. before hanging up the crampons.
After football, the Hogeboom family spent about 15 years in northern Michigan, first in Traverse City and then in Glen Arbor.
“We love the four seasons.
Up north, Hogeboom coached, ran fitness boot camps, and was involved in real estate.
Ultimately, they wanted to be closer to a big city.
“It was a great time and we met a lot of great people up north. Loved it up there, we just needed something a little busier, a little more crowded.
Next stop was Grand Rapids for a few years before moving to Grand Haven.
Unsurprisingly, sport – and its ability to impact and unite people – remains dear to Hogeboom. And he has no doubt that participating in several sports during his youth made him a better football player.
“Without a doubt,” he stressed. “I think that made me who I am today.” He then quickly pointed out that the research supported the opinion.
“Look at the numbers. It’s incredible.
For more than a decade, Tracking Football has detailed the athletes who make up the annual NFL Draft. The 2022 preview found:
233/262 (88.9%) picks were high school multi-sport athletes
180/262 (68.7%) participated in Track & Champ
113/262 (43.1%) were 3+ sports athletes in high school
Only 29/262 (11%) were football-only specialists
Therefore, Hogeboom takes issue with coaches who demand an athlete’s loyalty to a single sport.
“I really want to tell the coaches to give the kids some slack. It’s one thing if the child is lazy, sitting at home on a couch. But if they practice or practice another sport, they improve. You get to know your body and what it can do.
“If they (need) to skip training for another sport, be a little more forgiving than you normally would be. The son of a good friend of mine (won the Michigan one) Mr. Soccer as a senior. His basketball coach had him quit because he had soccer tryouts in the United States. So the kid didn’t play basketball when he could have done both.
“If our coaches understood that football might not be their #1 sport, it’s basketball. Volleyball might be your #1 sport and your #2 sport is something different.
“There are always extenuating circumstances, but during basketball season, if a football player wants to shoot hoops on the weekend and prepare for basketball because basketball is his favorite sport and football is his second sport, allow these children to do it. You can injure yourself doing anything, but having a child in the gym or the weight room or on the field in their free time – this should be encouraged.
“Everything you learn in sport, you bring to life…to your friends, to your family, to your spouse, to the people you meet. You learn to communicate. You learn to respect and love yourself. You learn to work and you learn that (sometimes) you get your ass kicked.
“I’m not saying you can’t get these things from other avenues growing up in our society, but that’s what I know and love.
“So we wanted to incorporate that into an installation.
SportHouse offers a wide range of premium fields, courts, camps and bodybuilding equipment, providing activities and options for children of all circumstances to improve their performance and grow bigger, stronger and faster, and the opportunity for adults to be healthy and stay fit.
“We said, ‘Hey, this region needs it. It would be great for this area. It would help all the communities come together,’ and that’s what we’re trying to do.”