WOLVERINE - Wolverine substitute teacher Bill Priest began a jiu jitsu club at the school in February. He was tasked with running another sport at the school after bringing the baseball program back after a couple-year hiatus.
With all that he’s done for the Wolverine community, the community he had previously given 26 years to, the Michigan State Police, decided to repay the favor on Thursday afternoon.
“Retired Sergeant Bill Priest, we worked together at the Gaylord post and he’s doing amazing things with the high school kids in jiu jitsu and in baseball. He’s a great mentor. And he had reached out to me saying that, you know, his arm is getting old, and they really need a pitching machine. And Walmart donated money for us to keep in Cheboygan County. And so, we decided to donate to the Wolverine school so they can have a pitching machine,” Sergeant Ashley Miller said.
The $800 donation for the pitching machine was made possible through the STOP (State Trooper Outreach Partnership) Gaylord chapter, which Sergeant Miller is the president of.
“Oftentimes, kids only see the police when there’s a problem. And now through this organization through STOP, we’re able to get out in the community and make a positive impact. And I know Coach Priest is doing such an amazing job and we’re really proud of him. So we want to support him also,” she said.
Priest was grateful for the support of his former colleagues as heading the baseball team has proven to be a lot of work, especially with a roster full of players who have never played organized ball before. But watching his kids improve has been a major motivator for their HC.
“The kids are 1,000,000% Better than that first day,” Priest said. “I tell these guys, you know, trained jiu jitsu for a while but there’s so many guys that I trained with that kick my butt on a nightly basis, and I relate that to baseball because baseball is a very complicated sport. Everybody thinks that it’s just throwing a ball and swinging the bat but to do it right, really, its muscle memory is just like jujitsu just like anything really, any kind of sport.”
But Priest’s hope for his team is much greater than baseball.
“This isn’t just about baseball, this is making these kids into productive adult men, good young men, and honorable,” Priest said.
Priest’s former colleagues at Michigan State Police could not be prouder of how active he is in the Wolverine community.
“It means so much, because the troopers really wanted to be more involved in every county that we patrol. And it’s nice because we are donating this machine,” Miller said. Priest has inspired one of his old colleagues to help out with the program as well. “Trooper Ryan Davis, who played in college, and along with the machine, he’s going to actually help coach Priest coach the kids and maybe be a mentor.”
Priest’s work in the Wolverine community won’t stop here. Next year, Priest plans to bring the middle schoolers out to practice to prepare them for high school ball. He also hopes to start a little league in the community.