The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) is partnering with Celebration Cinema to bring a new sport to West Michigan – and there’s a good chance you know very little about it.
WMSC Annual Luncheon Brings Sports Greats to GR
Lunch anyone? An overwhelming “Yes!” was the answer to that question back in 2007 when the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) was looking for just the right forum to introduce itself to the community. Nine years and many successful annual luncheons later, we are thrilled beyond imagination.
In 2007, a key founder of the West Michigan Sports Commission, Peter Secchia, asked his friend and Michigan State University Head Basketball Coach Tom Izzo if he would serve as guest speaker for our first annual luncheon. Peter asked me to assemble a sales team. The luncheon sold itself in roughly three weeks. We partnered with the JW Marriott and held our first luncheon during their first full week of operation. We have held all nine annual luncheons there, and our attendees continue to embrace not only the tradition of the luncheons and our mission, but the special treatment they receive each year from the JW Marriott. During this year’s luncheon held last month, we were thrilled to present our very first Founder’s Award to Peter for his tremendous efforts on behalf of the WMSC. You can see the award presentation and other moments from this year's luncheon here.
In addition to Tom Izzo, guest speakers have included University of Michigan Head Basketball Coach John Beilein; Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland; former Michigan State University and University of Michigan Head Football Coaches George Perles, Lloyd Carr and Brady Hoke; MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis; lead play-by-play radio voice of the Detroit Tigers Dan Dickerson; Washington Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins; and University of Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly last month. It’s an impressive list of sports leaders carrying the message of the importance of the West Michigan Sports Commission’s efforts to our community and beyond.
This event also is a key annual fundraiser and friendraiser for the WMSC. While keeping table and individual ticket prices at a reasonable level, we are able to raise dollars through strong financial sponsorships. Our generous sponsors for the past three years include Swift Printing, DP Fox, Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, Steelcase and Meijer. Additionally, all luncheon attendees who purchased a brick for the new Art Van Sports Complex were entered into a raffle for sports memorabilia signed by our guest speaker. this year's winners were Steve Jbara, Rosemary Jeruzal, Kristine Gault, Stephen Koltz, Jim and Christine Nicolette, and John Jackoboice.
Next year, we will host our 10th annual luncheon, and our planning committee is working hard to find just the right speaker for this milestone. We have had so many exceptional speakers, all of whom have called Michigan their home. We are fortunate to have so much talent in this great state, and it has been our genuine privilege to share these folks with the community over the years. To those of you who have attended our luncheons in the past, I look forward to seeing you again at what has become a warm family gathering. For those who have not had the opportunity to attend, please join us. You will not be disappointed.
As we prepare for 2020, I’d like to take a moment to review 2019 – it was another great year for youth and amateur sports in West Michigan!
Art Van Sports Complex won bids to host the USA Softball Men’s Open East Fast Pitch and Class D Slow Pitch national tournaments in 2020 and 2021!