Mr. Rocket’s legacy trails for four decades

New athletic facility he helped design will shape path forward

Bruce Foster moves a hurdle to another end of the track where it is needed

He’s “Mr. Rocket,” as dubbed by Superintendent Sam Wright, but he’s otherwise known as Bruce Foster, and he’s launched students toward great things over the past 40 years.

Foster, a lifelong Kelloggsville Rocket, has helped shape students’ lives through a combination of sports and academics, with skills learned on the field or court complementing those instilled in the classroom: teamwork, hard work and dedication.

Bruce Foster is constantly on the move at track meets. Here, he has the flag as runners pass

“Those are building blocks to whatever career and avenue they go from here,” said Foster, who has worked in the district for for decades including 25 years as athletic director. He is retiring as the school year ends, though he plans to continue to be a presence at athletic events. As he steps down, he leaves a legacy of impacting lives through sports and doing what he can to provide an excellent program for student athletes.

He also leaves a gleaming new athletic complex within the newly renovated high school, including a new gymnasium with a second-story walking track, weight room and mat room. Foster played a large role in designing the facility, which was part of the $33.9 million bond issue, passed in 2015, for which $27 million went toward high-school improvements.

“That was one of my goals, to get the bond passed and give this community a great facility for future use,” he said.

Wright is thankful for that. “We are so proud of that facility,” he said. “It wouldn’t have happened if Bruce hadn’t been there every day, making sure things were done the way we wanted them to be done.”

Wright has known Foster for 25 years. “Bruce has done an excellent job in maintaining standards and developing high standards for student athletes, the coaching staff and the community. He has been consistently, year after year, enforcing those standards and we are very proud of our athletics program and our academic program.”

Bruce Foster adjusts track meet signage

His Place in the World

Foster attended Kelloggsville schools from kindergarten through high school, a three-sport athlete who graduated in 1974. He attended Grand Rapids Community College and Aquinas College before teaching business classes, heading in-school suspensions and coaching football, wrestling and track at Kelloggsville High School prior to becoming athletic director. His wife, Cindy, also graduated from Kelloggsville, in 1976. They have three children: Nick, Eric and Anna, and four grandchildren.

“It’s a great community,” Foster said. “It’s a small-school atmosphere with large school programming. We have outstanding staff and administration, who are easy and great to work with on a daily basis.”

“I guess everyone needs a little place in their world to make it better, and I decided to do that here.” — Bruce Foster

As athletic director, Foster has organized 18 varsity sports, adding soccer, bowling and competitive cheer during his tenure. Between 50 and 55 percent of middle- and high -schoolers participate in athletics. He’s been at the helm of district athletics for five state championships and one runner-up, plus numerous district and regional and conference championships.

He also has been instrumental in running the district’s intramural program, for which fourth- and fifth-graders play flag football, volleyball, coed soccer, wrestling, and boys’ and girls’ basketball over three seasons each school year, with between 50 and 80 students participating each season.

“The program is developed to give those students after-school physical activity, and so they can learn skills as they go through the (school system) to continue to play one or more sports,” Foster said.

Bruce Foster adjusts hurdles

‘A Walking, Talking Example’

Foster has stood out as a leader in the district, said head football coach Don Galster, who has worked with him for 29 years. “I’ve had a number of college coaches compare our facilities to their facilities when they’ve visited. Kelloggsville’s athletic programs and facilities have become what they are through the leadership of Bruce.

“He is a walking, talking example of Rocket pride.”

Foster sets high expectations for not only himself, but also for all the coaches on staff, Galster said. “As a coach, you always knew that Bruce had your back. His attention to detail is what sets him apart from other athletic directors.

“When you come to an athletic event at Kelloggsville you will notice that everything is first class; the fans, players, coaches and officials are well taken care of. He’s very proud to be a Kelloggsville Rocket, and that pride permeates throughout the coaching staff and our student athletes.”

Middle school Principal Jim Alston said it’s hard to imagine the district without Foster.

“Kelloggsville would not be what it is now if it wasn’t for Bruce Foster,” Alston said. “His influence in this community goes well beyond the wonderful, updated high school and gymnasium. Yes, he was instrumental in the building and the design of them both, but you can also see his influence in how our athletes prepare, perform, look, behave and win. Mr. Foster has his thumbprint on all of those things. Without him directing our coaches — including myself — we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Bruce Foster stands in the new gymnasium he helped design

The relationships built and lives impacted are what have mattered to Foster, who said he loves to catch up with former student athletes and learn of the great things they’ve done in their lives with careers, families and in the community, long after their final game, match or race as a Kelloggsville Rocket.

“Everyone here has played a little part of making (those successes) materialize for them, and that’s always a good thing,” he said. “It’s like seeing a finished product.”

While Foster’s finished products may include a treasured new athletics facility, a time-honored program and a nurturing atmosphere, his legacy will continue to shine, like the contrail of a rocket still lighting up the the sky.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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