Portland Softball hosts Jack Anderson Invitational, opens Softball Hall of Fame
On Saturday, the Portland High School softball team hosted the first Jack Anderson Invitational tournament.
The tournament is named in honor of the 40-year Portland softball coach who retired from coaching at the end of the 2019 season. Jack finished his career with a varsity record of 977 wins and 376 losses including 23 conference championships, 13 district championships, three regional championships, and two state final appearances. In 2015 he was named to the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Between games, the Portland Softball Hall of Fame was officially opened.
Anderson’s wife Cheryl was the driving force behind making the Hall of Fame a reality. She told the Beacon that when he retired from coaching, she wanted, “Something to honor Jack.”
She explained that at the time in 2019, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Will Heath already had architects working several projects as part of the districts ongoing improvements. These same architects drew up the initial plan for Cheryl. Cheryl said of the plan, “We really liked it. We just made a few adjustments.”
Cheryl also expressed her sincere thanks to the supporters who gave their time and donations to make the project a success.
The first plaque visitors see when entering the walkway says, “The Softball Hall of Fame was established in recognition of Jack Anderson for his dedication to the program and his passion for the game, spanning 40 years. To honor Coach Anderson, the Hall of Fame celebrates those players, coaches, teams and contributors who represent the foremost in achievement and lasting impact on Portland Softball.”
The plaque also acknowledges those supporters who made the Hall of Fame possible. Those include:
The Anderson Family
The Chris Trieweiler Family
Ron and Linda Green
Mike and Laura Hager
Jack and CJ Griffin
Farm Bureau Insurance
Friends of Portland Softball
Moving forward, a committee including the varsity head coach, PHS athletic director, and Jack or representative of the Anderson family will select future individuals or teams to be inducted. Cheryl said, “Our goal is one a year for as long as we can.”
The Hall of Fame’s first two inductees were Jack Anderson for 2020, and Kelly Grys for 2021. The original dedication was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, so both the 2020 and 2021 inductees were honored on Saturday.
Jack Anderson’s plaque says:
Softball Coach 1979 - 2019
“Jack Anderson served as Portland softball coach for 40 years until his retirement in 2019.
He finished his career with a varsity record of 977 wins and 376 losses including 23
conference championships, 13 district, three regional and two state final appearances. He has
been recognized as District, Regional and Area Coach of the Year and in 2005 was inducted
into the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Hall of Fame. His dedication to the players
and program on and off the field has left a lasting impact on young athletes and established
a rich tradition of excellence for Portland Softball.”
Kelly (Johnson) Grys’s plaque says:
Pitcher 1984 – 1986
Varsity Assistant Coach 1987 - 2018
“Kelly Grys was both an outstanding player and coach for the Portland softball program. She was a three-year varsity pitcher and was Portland’s first softball player to receive all state honors. She returned to serve the program for 31 years as a volunteer assistant coach. Her knowledge and passion for the sport was invaluable and her efforts contributed to many successful seasons. Kelly was a dedicated coach, a positive role model for female athletes and their development as competitors. For her commitment, she was honored as the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2016.”
Jack Anderson told the Beacon, “I am very humbled. It is incredible. The whole thing turned out exceptionally well. It will be a nice place for years to come.!”
Jack also expressed his gratitude to all the donors and volunteers for the project, but was especially grateful to his wife. He said, “She did a fantastic job with Saturday’s program and the entire project.”
He is excited for the project to continue to add players or teams each year, and to celebrate the outstanding softball at Portland High School.
When Grys was asked about her induction, she said, “I really want to thank Jack for being such a huge advocate and supporter of our community and for PHS Softball. He was a respected, tough coach that expected nothing less than our players best efforts at every practice and every game.”
She added, “I was fortunate enough to coach 31 years with not only an outstanding coach but a great friend, that welcomed some of my ideas and pushed me to become a better coach. I will forever be thankful and never forget the great memories of all the umpires, players, and dedicated coaches that I had the opportunity to coach and then coach with.”
Grys also acknowledged a few of the other softball coaches she worked with in her time at Portland. She said, “An extra thank you to Brandee Novara, Patti Fish, and Sarah Townsend for making fun of me every spring trip. loved every min of it!”
Photo left to right: Jack Anderson and Kelly Grys
Caption: Donors and supporters of the Portland Softball Hall of Fame are recognized.
Photo left to right: Cheryl and Jack Anderson
Photo left to right: Mike and Kelly Grys
Photo left to right: Darwin (Jack's father) and Jack Anderson.
While there was a lot of celebration off the field on Saturday, that was not so much the case on the field. The Raiders had a rough day on the diamond with losses to Ovid-Elsie, Holt and Central Montcalm. They move to 2-3 on the season. Their next action is at home on Thursday when they host Ionia.