Wes Vryhof is a 1942 graduate of Holland Christian High School. While a HCHS Maroon, Wes earned varsity letters in both baseball and basketball. After high school he spent three years in the US military during WWII. He was assigned to an Airborne Division as a glider paratrooper. After his military service concluded, Wes began his college career at Hope College, where he played on the freshman basketball team for one season. He transferred to Calvin College, where he earned his AB degree while playing varsity baseball and basketball. During his senior year at Calvin, he chose to begin coaching rather than continue playing, and began his coaching career at GRCH. He later earned an MA degree from Western Michigan University in 1957.
Wes spent his entire teaching and coaching career at Grand Rapids Christian, retiring in 1988. He enjoyed teaching both mathematics and physics classes. Wes coached the boys basketball team for 15 seasons at GRCH (1949-1964). Over the length of his coaching career, his teams won five City League championships and two District championships. In a note of irony, three different times his teams were defeated in the State Tournament by the eventual State Champion. During the first seven years of his coaching, GRCH didn’t have its own gym and practiced at what was then Burton Heights Junior High. He says that today’s facilities “simply blow my mind!”
Wes recalled a special situation that GRCH faced during the State Tournament in 1951. The team was scheduled to play Kalamazoo Central in the Quarterfinals on Wednesday night, but it was also a National Day of Prayer and churches had services scheduled for that evening. After much discussion, the GRCH Board decided that the team should play the game, but the cheerleaders would not be making the trip to Lansing for the game.
Wes says that several games stand out in his memory, among them games against South High, Muskegon Heights, Benton Harbor, and Kalamazoo Central. He also cited the longtime rivalries with South High and Holland Christian as special. Wes appreciated all the boys who played for him, calling them great individuals.
After retiring from coaching, at one point there were three varsity basketball coaches in the City League who were former players under Coach Vryhof: Ken Zandee at GRCH, Tom Vander Woude at Union, and Ken VandenBerg at Ottawa Hills. One of his former players said, “Coach Vryhof was a shining example of how a Christian should walk in life and on the basketball court.”
Wes and his wife Fran still live near GRCH. They are the parents of Sue Aupperlee, Dave Vryhof, and Steve Vryhof. They have six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Wes’ Favorite Scripture: Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor demons, nor powers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from
the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.