Swartz Creek softball complex named in biggest fan, Jacob Brisendine's honor
By Laura Angus | Flint Journal
April 26, 2009, 3:58PM
CLAYTON TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Jacob Brisendine, 78, may have played against Swartz Creek and coached against Swartz Creek, but today he is known as one of the top supporters of Swartz Creek sports.
"I'm a born-again Dragon now," the Clayton Township resident said.
"I'm all red and white."
Brisendine's support and participation in Swartz Creek athletics was recognized during the board's April 16 meeting.
Members voted to name the district's softball fields the Jacob E. Brisendine Softball Complex in his honor, as the crowd and board members gave him several standing ovations.
"If you've been around athletics at all, you know that Jake is the superfan," said Board of Education president John Knickerbocker.
Brisendine attended and taught at Dye High School — once part of Carman-Ainsworth School District — before serving as principal of Swartz Creek Middle School for 13 years.
He coached basketball and football during his time at the school, and his children participated in athletics before graduating in the 1970s.
He continued to attend sporting events and support the district's student athletes after his retirement.
Swartz Creek police Chief Rick Clolinger, coach of the varsity softball team, said Brisendine sent notes to softball players, like Clolinger's daughter, congratulating them on a good season.
Brisendine said the notes started from his days as a principal. He doesn't write them to everyone, but to students who make all-league or earn recognition for academic achievement.
"I just think everyone appreciates appreciation," he said.
Board member Dallas Gatlin said Brisendine attends events that even students' parents might not want to attend — and not just the "big sports" like football and basketball.
He remembered a cross-country meet his son ran in on a cold and rainy day. Even Gatlin's wife thought about staying home, but Brisendine showed up.
"I just say that in appreciation because Jake has been to everything," he said.
Gatlin joked the district should get a mobile sign to honor Brisendine and move it to all the sports events.
Mike Cummings, president of the Swartz Creek Athletic Boosters, said Brisendine's support of Swartz Creek athletes more than warrants the honor.
"Over the years, Jacob has touched many of our kids' lives," he said.
Clolinger thanked the board for honoring Brisendine, and called Brisendine his friend.
"I just think that he mentors our kids," said Clolinger.
"He's a leader. He's always there — he comes to all our games."
Brisendine will be honored during a ceremony at the softball fields in May.