After two and a half decades of distinguished work and service on behalf of the Gull Lake School District, longtime athletic director Marc Throop has announced that he will be retiring from his post effective at the end of the school year. Throop came to Gull Lake in 1988 as the school’s varsity basketball coach and business teacher, and in the years since has become a fixture on the sidelines of nearly all Blue Devil athletic events. When asked why he feels that now is the right time to step away, Throop was frank with his answer.
“It is a very bittersweet time,” he said. “The 60 to 80 [hour] work weeks have simply made me tired, and to be honest, I won’t miss that part. I am extremely excited about working less hours plus spending a whole lot more time with my wife and family. With the work that my wife does and what she has done, she is a real hero, and my work pales in comparison to what she does and the heart that she has. God has certainly blessed me with her.”
Throop’s wife Peg is the founder of the prominent Kalamazoo non-profit organization Taste of Heaven, which sells its famous chocolate drizzled caramel corn to raise funds in the hope of “impacting young people locally, nationally and around the world.” The organization is now fully owned by Kalamazoo Youth for Christ.
Although his time as a Gull Lake administrator is nearing an end, it is clear that Throop’s passion for high school athletics and the student athletes who participate in them has not waned in the least over the years. It may no longer be his occupation, but Throop has expressed his desire to remain involved in Gull Lake sports into the future.
“My direct involvement will be based on what others desire, but my personal interest and wanting to watch the kids play will not go away,” he said.
And as for his presence on the sidelines? Don’t look for that to diminish any time soon either.
“This may sound a little weird, but I’ve said that I want to get a nice golf cart and be able to simply drive up and watch games when I want and then leave when I want,” Throop said. “Pulling into the stadium and watching games with what would be my own private seat really seems like a lot of fun to me.”
After years of working for the betterment of the school’s athletic program and developing close ties to countless members of the community, Throop describes Gull Lake as being “like a family member.”
“There isn’t one person who actually knows how I feel about this place,” he said.
When asked what memories he will take away from his time at Gull Lake, Throop’s response comes as little surprise to those who know him well.
“Probably the best part of this job has been when kids have graduated that you have coached and they come back and see you and say ‘thank you,’ even when sometimes those relationships were not always perfect during the tough times,” he said. “I will miss the people that I’ve worked with like Don Eastman and our coaches as well.”
There is little questioning the legacy of excellence that Throop has left after over 25 years of work at Gull Lake, and anyone seeking evidence of this need only to examine the records of the school’s athletic teams during his tenure. While his day to day presence in the hallways may be coming to an end, it appears likely that his influence on Gull Lake and its students will continue to last far longer.
By Tyler VanderMolen