SL football an integral part of Westhoff family

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:44 AM

Few have embraced their love for the Lakers, or given back as much, as the Westhoffs.

Father Rich Westhoff never played football for the Lakers. He attended junior high in Spring Lake, but came along too early to attend Spring Lake High School. It wasn’t built until more than a decade after he graduated from Grand Haven in 1949. Rich played a year of football for Grand Haven, but had hay fever so bad, his family doctor told him he had to give up football.

His sons, Dan and Joel, however, both played for the Lakers.

Dan was a quarterback as a junior on the Lakers team in 1978 that went 8-1. He hurt his knee during that season and missed his entire senior season.

Joel was an offensive and defensive end for the Lakers in 1981-82. His ‘82 team was one of the best in school history, going 9-0 and outscoring its opponents, 266-6.

Today, the trio of Westhoffs spend their Friday nights in the press box at Thomas E. Grabinski Field.

Rich is pretty much retired from any active duty, and he missed most of last year’s games. At 81 years old, getting up and down the metal bleachers and into the press box isn’t as easy as it once was.

Dan is now the Lakers’ public address announcer at football games, while Joel runs the clock.

Over the years, they’ve done a little bit of everything at Grabinski Field. In fact, Rich’s involvement with the program predates the building of the Lakers’ current home.

“I started in 1964, and we played for three years at Buccaneer Stadium,” Rich said. “Actually, I think it was called Green Hill Field then. I took tickets on Saturday night.

“Then they built the stadium in Spring Lake and I still took tickets. I don’t know what year I went to the press box. Porter Fletcher was the time keeper at the time and my boss at AP Parts. The guy running the scoreboard moved out of state, and Porter said, ‘Do you want to move upstairs?’

“I’ve been there ever since.”

To read more of this story, see today's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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