‘Co-champs?’ Why not, West Michigan coach says

KENT CITY, Mich. (WOOD) — When high school winter sports teams unknowingly played their final games on March 11, there were still 64 girls teams and 184 boys teams alive in the MHSAA tournament.  

“That’s how the whole thing kind of started,” Kent City boys coach David Ingles said. “We won our last game, which is what you want to do to end the season.”

Under normal circumstances, the only teams to win their final postseason games are state champions. Due to COVID-19, that’s not the case this season. So Ingles and his players designed a T-shirt to remember how things finished.

“On the front it will say, ‘2020 Co-State Champions’ and have the school name on it. In our case, it’s Kent City,” Ingles said. “On the back of the shirt, it says, ‘Co-State Champions’ and lists all the schools that were still alive in the state tournament.”  

What started as an idea for just his team has quickly grown into much more. Ingles has teamed up with Victory Apparel in Grand Rapids and is producing shirts for schools that found themselves in a similar situation.  

“I think that what the shirt will do is give people a memento to remember what happened because obviously it’s new to everyone,” Ingles said. “Hopefully it never happens again so something to remember that but also have a little fun with it. It’s been such a rough thing that maybe we have fun with it and brighten someone’s day.”

A portion of every sale will go to a local hospital or a charity that is helping in the fight against COVID-19.

Ingles shares the feeling of disappointment his seniors have over not being able to continue to compete together. He says his message to all high school seniors is the same as it is to his team:

“It’s bigger than basketball. It’s kind of what we’ve said the whole season,” he said. “When this happened, I think it was a little easier for us to cope with it because we had said that (motto) all along. Everything we are doing is bigger than basketball. There are things that are more important. I hope people can realize that.”

For more information on the shirts, you can contact Ingles through Twitter, Facebook or via email at coach.ingles@yahoo.com.