By Emily Waldon
When students of Tri County High School take to the halls this fall to begin the new school year, they are sure to cross paths with one individual in particular, who has solidified himself as a fixture in the growth of the school district both in the classroom and on the field.
Oh, and did we also mention the basketball court?
As a self-professed “Jack of all trades,” Chris Overbeek is already looking toward another year to be spent with his students and athletes.
The Holland West Ottawa graduate first began to put serious consideration towards his future career, thanks to a nudge that came during his sophomore year from then junior varsity football and basketball coach, Tony Annese.
“He basically told me, ‘You’re going into teaching and coaching,’” Overbeek said. “It was really the first time anyone had not only just given me direction, but he had a way of not only asking you, but telling you and from that point on, I thought, yeah, I could do this. That was kind of the nudge I needed.”
Following his entrance into Aquinas College, Overbeek didn’t have to wait long to get his feet wet in coaching through involvement in both basketball and baseball back at his high school alma mater.
His journey into the classroom environment began following his graduation with a political science degree from Aquinas, as he began dispersing his resume to as many locations as he was able to. His efforts proved successful, as he was welcomed onto the staff at the Tri County district for the 1994-1995 school year. The small town feel of the school district has quickly made its way into Overbeek’s heart throughout the course of his 20-year tenure with the Vikings.
“I really think there is something special about our kids and I’ve always enjoyed just the personality of our kids and they inspire me because, they seem to always want to get better,” Overbeek said. “I’d just like to kind of give a shout out to parents that I’ve dealt with, especially with the baseball program where I’ve been for 20 years. Our parents have been incredibly supportive and so their support is inspiring, because if I win every year and it was a battle with the parents, I probably wouldn’t be doing this 20 years later.”
The impact of Overbeek’s example has in no way gone unnoticed by the students that have come and gone throughout the year, including multi-sport athlete and 2001 graduate, Jeff Rosenberger.
“He always taught and coached with great integrity,” Rosenberger said. “It always made me laugh because he was such a numbers guy. I swear he could remember the statistics from the 1984 Detroit Tigers World Championship team. I know he was a great role model for me and taught me a lot of things other than sports that I’ve been able to use in life after school.”
Jeanette (Gitchel) Chomic, a 2004 graduate, added her thoughts.
“He was always there when we needed him,” she said. “He always treated us with fairness and respect and we loved him for it.”
Just last spring, Overbeek crowned his impressive 20 year run of coaching by celebrating his 1,000th win overall in his career. This includes both girls and boys basketball, football and baseball.
In a multi-faceted career field that can easily bury you under a mountain of work, Overbeek has shown to maintain an impressive balance of student investment and family time that has proven to only strengthened his legacy in the community.
A legacy that is sure to inspire for many years to come.
Emily Waldon was raised in Howard City and currently resides in Wyoming, Mich. A lifelong sports enthusiast, she also enjoys photography, traveling and bringing a fresh outlook to the world of athletics, both collegiate and professional. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.