Steve Hewitt’s friends knew him as a health fanatic who took care of himself almost obsessively.
That’s why it came as such a shock to those same friends when they learned that Hewitt, who served as Grand Haven High School’s varsity boys basketball coach the past nine seasons, died on Tuesday.
He reportedly collapsed during an afternoon run at Hofma Park in Grand Haven Township. Hewitt was 50 years old.
“He went out for a run and collapsed,” said GHHS Principal Tracy Wilson. “Somebody else was out there and happened upon him and called 911. He was transported to North Ottawa (Community Hospital) and passed. Obviously, the assumption is it was a heart attack, but I don’t know if it’s official.
“I’m shocked. Disbelief. Sadness. It’s a very, very sad day for the family. Steve is somebody who took care of him self health-wise, activity-wise, and spiritually. He was a very, very good person.”
Hewitt, who worked as a counselor at Grand Haven High School, is survived by his wife, Kate, and three sons: Will, a graduate student at Grand Valley State University; Cam, a senior at Hope College; and Drew, who will be a junior at Grand Haven this fall.
Few were closer to Hewitt than Grand Haven varsity girls basketball coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer. The two shared a passion for basketball and spent countless hours working together to further both the boys and girls programs at Grand Haven.
“I’d go talk to him every single day during my planning hour. I’d go in and we’d talk basketball,” she said. “He’s just a great person. He worked so hard at basketball. He was a great counselor and a teacher, but his passion was basketball. I don’t think people know how much he helped me, how much he helped the girls program. He was always coming into my practices, even if it was for only 20 minutes. If I needed help with a zone offense, I’d ask Steve. He’s a basketball geek. He loved it.”
Hewitt spent the last 15 years coaching basketball at Grand Haven. He took over as the varsity boys head coach in 2005, after longtime coach Craig Taylor retired.
Hewitt’s death comes just a few short months after the passing of Grand Haven athletic director Robin Bye. Bye died April 12 after a long battle with cancer.
Former Buccaneer basketball player David Ekkel said Hewitt’s impact went well beyond what was taught on the basketball court.
“I played for him my freshman and senior year at Grand Haven, and appreciated the chance he gave me as well as the life lessons that he taught,” said Ekkel, a 2006 GHHS grad.
The Grand Haven Area Public Schools Crisis Team will be available to assist any students or staff in need of support beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the high school.
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