By MICHAEL BRIGGS
Special to the Times
The Class of 2023 student athletes at Stone Ridge Christian High school are a dynamic and diverse group that makeup the foundation of Knight Nation Athletics.
This year, Stone Ridge celebrated five seniors that punched their tickets to play at the collegiate level in their respective sports by inking their letters of intent. Stone Ridge Christian has enjoyed success in each area of athletics thanks to the contributions of these young adults.
The SRC Football team finished 9-3 this year and was led by a trio of talented seniors in Max Friedman, Michael Vander Woude and Noah Lund. They have played together for the Knights since Junior High school. “I’m excited to see all the time we’ve put in, especially in the weight room for the past four years culminate in this moment,” Vander Woude said.
Max Friedman will be leaving the friendly confines of SRC as a three-sport athlete for the Knights to bolster a program that is coming off of a 2022 NAIA National Championship. While on the gridiron Friedman played Tight End, Linebacker, as well as kicking duties during his tenure with SRC and he compiled a 4.1 GPA to his credit.
“It’s exciting,” Friedman said. “I really like the head coach. I talked to a couple of the current players and they are good people, so I’m just looking forward to moving on to the next level and competing.”
Friedman plans to major in Math and pursue a degree in engineering while attending Northwestern College.
Michael Vander Woude
Michael Vander Woude, another three-sport athlete will carry on a family legacy as he is headed to Dordt University on the defensive side of the football as a D-lineman for the Defenders.
When asked what his motivation was that helped him to get to this point, he replied: “My motivation stems from knowing that I was given talents from God and so it’s just trying to see what I can do with those and try not to put anything to waste.”
As a knight football player Vander Woude had an impressive resume that included 64 tackles, 2 safeties, Defensive league MVP, “Tip of the spear” award and even a receiving touchdown to go along with an equally impressive 4.18 GPA.
The three-sport standout is headed off to Indiana to play quarterback for the Ravens, a D-3 school. He made his biggest impact while at SRC on the football field playing both offense and defense for the Knights, but he excelled most at the quarterback position.
“I really have to thank God and my coaches,” Lund said. “They have always been an influence on me and my mom has always been there to help me.”
Lund said he is going to pursue a degree in business marketing and leaves SRC with a 3.0 GPA.
Alyssa Villa is fulfilling her childhood dream of playing collegiate softball as she departs SRC to join Vander Woude at Dordt University.
“Choosing Dordt was a combination of everything,” Villa said. “I think the environment most of all was a deal sealer for me because it just kinda felt like home.”
Villa played multiple sports at SRC while carrying a 4.2 GPA, she plans to pursue a degree in business and placed an emphasis on accounting. When asked who has been instrumental in her life as it relates to this moment, she smiled and replied: “My dad, he’s been my coach for as long as I can remember. He was the one constant throughout my athletic pursuits.”
The sport of Trap Shooting and Skeet Shooting are subtly nuanced but essentially performed the same way. An uncommon sport but intriguing as it is extremely popular in the Olympic Games. Bradley Saylor is taking his 3.5 GPA and his ambitions to Simpson College where he plans on pursuing a degree in business management with an emphasis on finance while shooting Skeet and Trap for the Storm.
“I want to thank God and my parents,” Saylor said. “They helped get me to where I am, they made sure I always had the ammo and guns I needed to be successful.”
The class of 2023 had to overcome immense challenges during the “Covid years” to get to where they are, they are a reminder of what is possible where hard work and dedication despite all odds converge.