Rockford soccer game honors late coach, raises cancer awareness

Kent County

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The Rockford High School boys soccer team sported unique jerseys with special names on the back for their game against Jenison High School.

The game raised cancer awareness Tuesday night.

“It’s my mom’s name,” Ryan Wyngarden, a Rockford senior defender, said.

Wyngarden’s mother beat the disease. He says he’s thankful for the opportunity to honor her and her fight.

“It inspired me a lot,” Wyngarden said. “I was younger and I was having a hard time with it at first, and seeing her win inspired me and taught me how much perseverance she had and just always work hard and fight for everything.”

Tom Triesenberg was a longtime referee and coach in the area. Triesenberg died of cancer in May 2020.

The team honored him before the match. His wife and kids joined the team on the field during player introductions.

“We are appreciative of the Rockford community and also Rockford soccer for putting this together, not only for us and our extended family, but for awareness for all of the families,” Tom’s widow Elizabeth Triesenberg said.

Tom Triesenberg was a well-known figure in the local soccer community, referring games for kids and adults, whether they played indoor or outdoor, in addition to his coaching duties.

The Rockford High School soccer game against Jenison High School honors longtime area referee and coach Tom Triesenberg, while raising cancer awareness. (Sept. 28, 2021)

“He loved the soccer scene more than anyone I know, so it’s just great to see it coming back to him,” his son Nathan Triesenberg said.

Rockford senior forward Aaron Woods was playing in honor of an uncle going through stage 4 cancer. Woods grew up in the community and recalls seeing the Triesenberg family at soccer games.

“His son was a good friend of my brothers,” Woods said. “I knew him well. I’m honored to play for him.”

Proceeds from the game will benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation.

“They offer special things for kids to do to give them inspiration along the way for their fight, ” Elizabeth said. “He put a lot into kids. He loved being around them, whether it was soccer or church.”

Rockford beat Jenison 3-0.

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