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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jim Myers' deep-seated appreciation for his hometown of Madison Heights

The family purchased a desk.
Nothing from Broyhill or Henredon. Not something they’d hawk in Art Van’s and beckon customers in with the promise of a high definition television set.
A wood desk; one that bore a strong resemblance to a school desk.
Young Jim Myers would sit in that desk for hours after school working on lessons.
He grew to despise it. He had to finish his homework. All the while, he could watch his pals playing in the park across the street.
Only he could not go out and play. He had to complete his assignments.
Myers was plagued by dyslexia. He was befuddled by it. The alphabet that stretched like crown molding in grade school classrooms mocked him. The letters were often confusing hieroglyphics.
There is no confusing the outstanding accomplishments of Myers, who is among those who will be honored at Tuesday’s Madison Heights Sports Heroes Celebration.
“My dad was a hard working man who never had an opportunity to have an education. Dad believed there was nothing more important than education. He was a volunteer fireman in the years before the area had a paid fire fighting force,” said Myers. “My mother graduated from Lincoln of Van Dyke High School.  Mom was always involved in helping young people. Mom was a member of the Madison School Board for 29 years. She was on the first Little League football board.  She managed a 12-to-18 year-old men’s baseball team. She always believed in doing what was best for young people.
“Both brother Jack and I were given every opportunity to succeed.  Coach Don Scott had a big influence on Jack and me. Jack assisted me in both football and wrestling before moving into administration. He retired as Madison District's superintendent.
“I am most proud of the fact that 37 of the young men that I coached went on to become coaches.  I was also blessed to coach both of my sons at Madison. Both my wife and my daughter also became educators,” continued Myers.
Jim Myers became a long-time teacher and coach at his alma mater, Madison High School. He successfully battled his learning disability to earn advanced degrees at Michigan State University.
He also battled many of the top professional wrestlers to gain fame as one of the most recognizable characters in the sport. He was known as George “The Animal” Steele. He is now living in Florida, but will be back in his hometown next week.
“When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone in the neighborhoods and in the school district cared about kids. Each neighborhood had a play area that was always in use. It was anything from scrub ball, tag, hide and go seek, football, Red Rover Red Rover, etc. Also, all school activities were supported by most of the teachers and stuff and they were not paid to be there,” continued Myers.
Myers will be honored at the Madison Heights Sports Heroes Celebration which will take place at the Madison Heights Heritage Room’s Museum at Schoenhals School, 27107 Hales, located north of 11 Mile between Dequindre and John R.
An open house will be held from noon until 8 p.m., Tuesday, with a special presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is free, and light snacks will be served.
Other sports heroes in attendance include Madison High graduate Ken Dallafior, a former offensive lineman at the University of Minnesota who went on to play with the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions.
Berney Gonzales, the wrestling coach at Bishop Foley High School, will also be honored. He was a two-time state champion in high school, and a world Greco-Roman wrestling champion.
Also slated to be recognized is Jerry Binkley, a Madison High graduate who played for Myers. Binkley is a long-time youth football coach with the Madison Heights Wolverines.
There will be representatives from the Madison Heights Little Baseball organization. That outstanding group is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season.
Among those also invited to attend are Madison High grad Grady Alderman, who played for the Minnesota Vikings; Lamphere grad Pat Peake, a first-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals; and former professional hockey player Shawn Penn, a Lamphere grad.
The local sports heroes in attendance will be available to pose for photos and sign autographs.
The sports heroes’ exhibits will also include sports memorabilia, team photos and awards. The exhibits will remain in place until November.
The event is sponsored by the Madison Heights Historical Commission. For more information, call the library at (248) 837-2852 or email


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