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'Be better': honoring No. 22

Duncan MacLean • May 16, 2019 at 12:20 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — As players from Spring Lake, Forest Hills Eastern and Davenport University Lacrosse joined with coaches, fans and family at Spring Lake High School on Wednesday night, the community Jarred Coleman selflessly strived to build was overwhelmingly evident.

After Coleman was tragically killed in a car accident in August 2018, lacrosse programs across West Michigan felt the loss of a consummate servant-leader. Assembling to form his number 22 at center field, Coleman’s greater lacrosse family celebrated his life and impact alongside his parents, siblings and friends in a heartfelt ceremony.

From his time as a player at Spring Lake and Davenport, as a coach for the Lakers and Rockford, and superfan to his younger brother Ethan, who represented Forest Hills Eastern on the field Wednesday, Coleman’s giving spirit resonated no matter the role.

“He just wanted everyone to be better,” said Coleman’s mother, Kelly Coleman, after the ceremony. “It was never about him. It was about everybody else. The one thing I have heard from everyone here is how he wanted everything to be better than it was and how infectious that was. He wanted everybody to have fun, smile and be better, whatever it took.

“As a parent, it’s one of the best roles you will ever have. Seeing all this, I just couldn’t be prouder of him. You want to say it is some of your nurture, of course, but it was his nature within him.”

That nature made its mark on the Spring Lake program and continues in the hearts of its players to this day. As senior Dominic Molotky celebrated his last game at home Wednesday, alongside his 15 dedicated classmates, he did so wearing Jarred’s No. 22. Molotky was selected by the Spring Lake coaching staff to be the first to wear the number in honor of Coleman and his impact on the program.

“It really means everything to me,” Molotky said. “He was a senior when I was in eighth grade and he was really the one who pushed me to take lacrosse seriously. He came to my house every day and we would just mess around in the backyard, shooting, wall ball, playing catch.

“It’s absolutely nuts he took time to hang out with and encourage an eighth-grader like that. I’m trying to get out there now and play with the fourth-graders and young kids. He really left a message for everyone. I know I wouldn’t be going on to play college ball if it weren’t for him, so I want to do my best to do the same.”

Spring Lake will continue to honor Jarred each year with a select senior donning his number in an effort to preserve his giving spirit and allow it to continue shaping the lives of local players.

“We are going to have a tough time picking out who will wear 22 moving forward because he was so many great things,” said Spring Lake head coach Doug Sharp. “It’s impossible to pin down who Jarred Coleman was. He was light-humored and funny. He was smart, worked hard and a great coach and lacrosse player.”

Coleman's time on the field was at times plagued with injuries, but they never dampened his enthusiasm, only heightened his drive. Sharp reflected Wednesday that Coleman took time to perfect his one-handed cradle while healing a broken arm and never stopped honing his wall-ball skills while dealing with a busted knee. That ceaseless work ethic paired with his infectious joy brought every team he was a part of to unprecedented success.

Coleman’s 2014 Laker team captured the program’s first unofficial conference title, while his 2016 Davenport team won the program’s first-ever National Championship, taking home a win over No. 2 Missouri Valley in the NAIA Invitational finals. Based on the scene at Spring Lake on Wednesday night, the success of both teams was not a coincidence.

Given more time, there is no telling what Coleman and those near him could have accomplished, regardless of the arena. The outpouring of love Wednesday showed his time was well spent; making sure everything and everyone around him was better. Spring Lake lacrosse certainly is, along with each and every life he was able to touch.

“22-years-old if too early to go. It’s just too early,” Sharp said. “The very least we could do it keep his memory alive, and we hope we did that tonight.”

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