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New interim director heads foundation support of K-8 student sports

Greg McAleenan, an attorney with both sports and fundraising experience, is the new interim director of Great Sports, Great Kids.

The program is part of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Foundation and makes sports available to all K-8 GRPS students, regardless of ability to pay. In a typical year, GRPS fields over 150 middle school teams in 15 sports and offers six sports to elementary students, totaling some 6,000 student participants, according to the foundation.

Interim Director Greg McAleenan said that anyone interested in donating their “time, talent and/or treasure” to support the Great Sports, Great Kids program, or sharing other thoughts on how to make the program even better, is invited to contact him at 616-560-4161 or greg.mcaleenan@grpsf.org.

McAleenan called the Great Sports, Great Kids program “a powerful vehicle that every member of the Grand Rapids community can support to ensure that the young student-athletes of GRPS can explore their athletic interests at no cost while developing their skills and elevating their academic performance, attendance and service to community.”

An attorney, McAleenan has both sports and fundraising experience. He is a member of the Sports Lawyers Association, has represented athletes and sports organizations, and worked in development at Aquinas College and Hope Network. 

He called his new position a chance to give back.  

“Athletics have always been important to me and my family, and I can’t imagine not having the opportunity to participate because of a lack of resources,” he said. “I look forward to the many conversations that lie ahead with members of the Grand Rapids and surrounding communities to showcase the variety of ways people can support Great Sports, Great Kids and help chart the future of these kids.”

McAleenan carries the interim tag, he said, because the Grand Rapids Public Schools Foundation is focused on providing GRPS with the resources needed to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and was concerned that the search for a permanent director at this juncture would distract from the task at hand.  

Greg McAleenan is the new interim director of Great Sports Great Kids, a program that makes sports available to all K-8 GRPS students, regardless of ability to pay

Three-Sport Athlete Remembers Lessons Learned

“My expectation is that a search for the permanent director will occur sometime in 2021,” he said, “but until then, I am excited to be working with others at GRPSF and GRPS who care deeply about the future of the kids.”

In a press release, Sally Andreatta, executive director of the GRPSF, said: “We are excited for Greg to be joining the Foundation team. As a successful local sports attorney, community leader and fundraising professional, Greg brings an abundance of expertise and passion to support the growth and advancement of the Great Sports, Great Kids vision.”

A former conference athlete of the year in the mid-1970s, McAleenan participated in football, basketball and track from elementary school through high school at East Grand Rapids. He went on to play football at Williams College where he remains in the record books as the NCAA Division III school’s all-time interceptions leader.

Athletics have always been important to me and my family, and I can’t imagine not having the opportunity to participate because of a lack of resources.’

— Greg McAleenan

“I enjoyed all aspects of being on a team,” he said. “I made friendships that last to this day and learned life lessons such as teamwork, sacrifice, perseverance, how to win and lose with grace, discipline and the like that shaped me into the person I am today. Along the way, I was fortunate to have wonderful coaches of both the technical aspects of each sport and life.” 

He passed that love of sports on to his kids as well, including a son who played lacrosse on scholarship at Penn State. He joked, however, that they get their athleticism from their mother, Karin, who rowed crew at Michigan State.

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Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan covers Grand Rapids and Kelloggsville and also is a general assignment reporter and the point person for the SNN Facebook and Twitter feeds. He hails from Exeter, Ontario, but has called Grand Rapids home since 1985. He is the son of a longtime public school teacher who taught both English and machine shop! Phil took both classes at South Huron District High School, but English stuck, and at Calvin College, where he met his wife, Sue, he majored in English and minored in journalism. His background includes both freelance writing and public relations work, including teaching an advertising and PR course at the college level. In the summer of 2019, he began his own freelance writing and communications business. In his spare time, Phil plays pick-up hockey and pickleball and tries to keep tabs on his two adult children.  Read Phil's full bio or email Phil.

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