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State honors athletic secretary for dedication

She's the one taking it over the finish line

Forest Hills — Carol Sprys can remember one of the first games she attended after being hired as Central High School’s new athletic secretary.

“The hockey team played in Chelsea for a weekend tournament and I was down in line to watch, and I had my Central T-shirt on,” Sprys said. “A lady said to me, ‘Oh, you’re here for Central. Which one’s your kid?’ I went, ‘All of them. I’m the athletic secretary.’ She said, ‘You came to watch?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

It is because of her dedication and support to Central’s student-athletes, coaches and staff, that Athletic Director Jonathan Goei said he recommended Sprys for the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ 2024 Athletic Administrative Assistant of the Year.

“Carol has been the greatest asset our athletic department has had since I have been here in this position,” Goei wrote in his recommendation letter. “She is a phenomenal support for not only me, but also every single one of our coaches and student-athletes here at Forest Hills Central … Our community sees Carol attending events whether she is working or not — at home, on the road and on the weekends.”

The Person Behind the Curtain

Sprys came to Central High School in 2014 when her husband, Joe, took a position with National Heritage Academy and they moved to West Michigan. 

She had served as athletic secretary for the past 11 years in Novi; the position there worked nicely for her family since her son was a three-sport athlete in football, wrestling and track, and her daughter participated in track and managed the football and wrestling teams. It also did not hurt that Sprys enjoyed watching sports.

It was her daughter who spotted Central’s posting for an athletic secretary and told her, “your job is open on the other side of the state. You need to apply.” 

While some of the sports offerings between Novi and Central were different, Sprys said she essentially walked into the same job at Central that she had done in Novi.

Forest Hills Central athletic secretary Carol Sprys has been named the MIAAA 2024 Administrative Assistant of the Year

“It’s just learning the ways that they did it here,” Sprys said. “I was able to kind of merge the two. I just kind of put some of my way with the Forest Hills way, and things are going well.”

In Central’s athletic office, Sprys is the behind-the-scenes person, handling tasks such as accounting, including each of the 38 sports’ bank accounts and the athletic boosters’ bank account. She schedules buses for away games, pays entry fees, handles coaches’ contracts and schedules all practices and games. 

“It’s kind of like Tetris, trying to get everybody in where they have space to practice,” Sprys said. It gets even trickier, she added, when the spring season is gearing up with teams looking for conditioning time while the winter season is still taking place.

Planning, Cheering and Celebrating Rangers

Sprys first retired in 2021, returning to help set up the office for her predecessor. For a year, she helped out with events and was a sub for the secretaries. Then, her predecessor left, and Sprys got the call asking if she could once again help out. 

A request to stay for six weeks then turned into three months, and eventually, “I said, ‘How about if I just stay for the year and we’ll go from there,’” she said.

“I love what I do. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy working with the kids and working with the coaches and Jonathan is fantastic. He’s easy to work with and work for.”

One day, Sprys said she will retire for good, but for now, she is committed through next year.

She admitted she is not one for the spotlight that has come with her MIAAA award, but is getting excited about the awards ceremony in April. What was more touching to her was the number of people who were willing to submit recommendation letters, which came from both Novi and Central staff.

“The acknowledgement from the staff and the coaches is huge,” Sprys said. “It’s nice to see that they see me.”

But her work is still all about the students — planning, cheering and celebrating them, she said.

“Last year, when the football team made it to the playoffs, we were actually in Colorado for Thanksgiving.” Sprys said, who had watched the team play in Portage before heading to Colorado. “When I got to Colorado, my husband said, ‘You’re going home for the game at Ford Field.’”

So Sprys returned to watch the football team, which lost in 2022. This fall, the couple made no plans around Thanksgiving, just in case, she said, and this time she watched the football team clinch its first Division 3 state title.

“The experience was amazing,” Sprys said. “The kids and the coaches and the fans … it was just very good Ranger community support.”

Read more from Forest Hills: 
School marks 25th year of French visitors
Getting the bands back together

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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