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Spring Lake-Coopersville rivalry takes on new meaning for Grabinski family

Tribune Staff • Sep 28, 2017 at 12:40 AM

The Grabinski family has been a staple in the fabric of Spring Lake athletics for decades. The Lakers football squad plays under the lights at Grabinski Field, in honor of former Spring Lake head football coach Tom Grabinski, who died in 1986 from a heart attack at age 39.

Tom’s son, Brian Grabinski played quarterback at Spring Lake, as well. Further instilling the Grabinski name into Spring Lake lore.

Now, the Grabinskis are in a peculiar position a generation later. Jan Grabinski-Lawrence, widow of Tom, has a grandson, Caleb Hondorp, who plays center on the junior varsity squad for the Coopersville football program.

Later today at 6:30 p.m., the Spring Lake junior varsity team will host the Broncos at Grabinski Field in Spring Lake with Jan and her family sitting in an unfamiliar spot — the visitors section.

“Obviously, we wish Caleb was playing for Spring Lake, but we’re happy to be able to watch him play on the same field,” said Jan. “My daughter, Angie (Hondorp), lives and teaches at Greenville, so Coopersville was a lot closer to home for them and Caleb attends school there.”

The day will also be a celebration for Angie, as it is her birthday.

“It’s going to be a family reunion of sorts,” Jan added. “We will be all getting together to celebrate Angie’s birthday, as well as watching Caleb play. It’s going to be weird sitting on the other side of the field this time around, but I’m proud of Caleb and want to support him.”

Jan said she plans to wear neutral colors while attending the game, despite sitting in the Coopersville cheering section.

“I don’t really have any Coopersville gear, so I will probably just wear neutral colors,” she said. “Our hearts will always be with the Lakers, but we will be hoping for the best for both teams Thursday night.”

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