Caledonia — Calapalooza, the “biggest party of the year,” was in full swing when alumna Kris Emerson Simpson entered Ralph E. Meyers Memorial Stadium, purple Caledonia windbreaker in hand. Since graduating from Caledonia High School in 1983, this was the first time she’d been back to the school since roughly 2008.
“My family is out in the parking lot enjoying all the fun,” Simpson said. “I’ve always loved how the community comes together for sporting events. This is Homecoming but we know how to go hard so they show up for us.”
Continuing a newly established tradition, CHS invited Simpson, an accomplished alumna and athlete, to be the honorary team captain at the Homecoming football game against East Kentwood. Last year, Class of 1948 alumnus and football star Gene Raab received the honor.
As part of her honorary team captain duties, Simpson got to take part in the coin toss. She clapped her hands together and jogged onto the field to link arms with the football team captains.
“I didn’t win it for them, but that was fun,” she said afterward, with a big grin.
In high school, Simpson was a two-time All-State basketball player and led her team to the state semifinals in 1981. She also set six team records as a Caledonia Fighting Scot, including those for all-time scoring and rebounding marks.
After setting more basketball records at Michigan State University, she played professional basketball for four years in Sweden before moving into collegiate coaching. In 2008, she was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.
Her advice for student athletes: “Play as many sports as you can. They’re good for your body and mind. Support your teammates and work hard in school. Sports teach you how to budget your time and teachers are there to help you manage both.”
Superintendent Dedrick Martin said the district was excited to include Simpson in this year’s Homecoming festivities.
“We are proud to honor Kris for her athletic achievement, her professional accomplishments, her volunteer leadership, and her ‘Fighting Scot’ legacy which inspires future female athletes,” he said. “As a district, we realize the importance of sharing stories that honor our past, while we continue to celebrate memories yet to come.”