Whenever my high school team played basketball games against Owosso High School (Michigan), there would inevitably be a stoppage for free throws or timeouts. Catching a breath, I would look up, always fixating on the portion of the gym wall taken up by some mythical former Owosso athlete named Brad Van Pelt. I had never heard of the guy, but I knew anyone with that many plaudits had to be something special.
When Van Pelt passed away in Owosso yesterday at the age of 57, I was once again reminded of his impact. Some will remember him as the best Owosso Trojan athlete of all time; a rebounder who dominated the talented Flint teams and earned a scholarship to play football in East Lansing. Others will remember him for his tackling prowess as a safety at Michigan State and his ability to excel at football, basketball, baseball, and track and field. And still more fans will remember him as a star linebacker for the New York Giants.
As a Big 10 blogger, I appreciate the athletes and personalities that make this conference the tradition rich entity it is. Van Pelt's otherworldly skill, hard working attitude, and standard Midwestern roots make him the kind of athlete worthy of honor and memorial on this website. (ed note: Here is a look back on his career by the Owosso Argus Press, the paper from Van Pelt's hometown.)