Ready for the tipoff

Published 9:41 am Thursday, December 3, 2015

For the next few months, Friday nights (and several others) across southwest Michigan will be filled with sounds unique to the season.

Popcorn pops at the concession stand.

The pitter-patter of steps echo as feet climb bleachers.

Cheerleaders yell to fire up fans.

An announcer lists the starting lineup.

Players shuffle in anticipation.

The crowd becomes silent.

A whistle blows.

It’s time for tipoff.

Just as the excitement builds in the minutes leading up to the game, we know our communities are revved up and ready to cheer as some of the area’s best athletes begin their seasons. To complement that enthusiasm — and keep it going all winter long — the staff at Leader Publications has once again created a winter high school sports preview, but this time, it’s better than ever.

Similar to The Kickoff, the magazine previewing fall sports that published in late August, readers can find previews for boys and girls basketball, wrestling, bowling and competitive cheer in the Tipoff next Thursday.

The Tipoff will be published as a full-color, glossy magazine complete with photos, schedules, rosters and questionnaires completed by area coaches for every competitive sport played in the winter months.

New to the Tipoff, we have created six covers — one for each of the Brandywine, Buchanan, Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg and Niles school districts. Each features one standout male basketball player and one standout female basketball player.

Last week, we had Wes Jerdon of Westley Leon Studios shoot each of the featured players for the covers. As they waited for their turn in front of the camera, it was neat to hear the excitement and good-natured chatter among the players, many of whom will face each other on the court this season.

That enthusiasm is reflected in the coaches’ questionnaires inside the Tipoff, with many teams returning the majority of their starting lineup, so it looks like we have some thrilling seasons ahead.

In addition to the basketball teams, six wrestling teams, three competitive cheerleading squads and two sets of bowling teams are hard at work preparing for matchups. Previews, photos and schedules are provided for each of those teams to help serve as a guidebook throughout the upcoming season.

Join us in building excitement as basketball players take the court, wrestlers step onto the mat, bowlers approach the foul line and cheerleaders grab their poms.

The Tipoff distributes inside your paper, at your school and in local businesses all over the area a week from today, so grab a copy, don your school colors and head out to cheer on your favorite team.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at