Donate Now!

Enter a donation amount that suits your budget. Every donations counts.

(616) 988-5430
GR8 Sports


GR8 Girls Logo

Learn More about GR8 Girls HERE!


GRSAF Donate Button

Click below to view the 2016/17 Annual Report



GRPS strives to develop exceptional, well-rounded student-athletes by fostering an athletics program that supports: academic achievement, overall improved school performance, athletic skill development, strengthened positive coach relationships and community service.

Through a formal partnership with GRPS, SAF implemented the GR8 Sports, Great Kids program to ensure access to K-8 sports to all students regardless of ability to pay. Most school districts don’t provide elementary programs at all and require that students “pay to play” at any level.  For GRPS, this is simply not a realistic option.  By leveraging both district and private dollars, we can offer an accessible and sustainable K-8 athletics program to all students.

Contact Cara Jones, Director of GR8 Sports, Great Kids or go to the GRPS Athletics Website to learn more!

Follow GR8 Sports, Great Kids on Facebook!

On February 9, 2016, we shared our story with the Grand Rapids community. Watch our press conference.

Why support K-8 Athletics?

Engaging kids in sports early promotes a healthy lifestyle and reduces injuries

Obesity is a rampant crisis in our nation today. In Michigan, 30.6% of youth ages 10-17 are overweight (Trust for American’s Health). The consequences of obesity and excess weight include higher risk for hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases that are now increasingly being reported in children.

Further complicating this issue, GRPS elementary students have approximately 30 minutes of recess per day and 48 minutes each week of physical education class. Middle school students have even less regular exposure to physical activity during the school day. These children fall far short of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children get at least one hour per day of physical activity. In order to improve the health and wellness of our students, it is critical they have opportunities to be active. Further, educators and health professionals alike recognize that a child’s health impacts his or her ability to go to school, to focus, to study and, ultimately, to learn.

Additionally, the afterschool period is a vulnerable time for our youth—the hours between 3 and 6 pm are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex, according to the Afterschool Alliance. Moreover, most other afterschool activities charge a fee to participate and the majority of GRPS students and their families have little to no discretionary income to devote to these expenses.

SAF Physical Wellness

School athletics supports academic success for students.

The GR8 Sports, Great Kids Program incorporates academic support for student athletes as well. In 2014, GRPS middle school athletes scored 7% higher on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) standardized tests than their non-athlete counterparts. This comes as no surprise, as many studies have marked a striking correlation between students’ participation in interscholastic athletics and their performance in both attendance and in the classroom. According to a study by the Los Angeles Unified School District, 35,000 student athletes attended an average of 21 more days of school per year than their counterparts, while they also sported GPAs some 0.55 to 0.74 points higher than non-athletes.

2018/19 School Year


GRPS expects to field 151 middle school teams in 15 sports (engaging over 2,500 students) and offer six sports to elementary students (with over 3,500 students participating)—all at no cost to students or their families. Students sign-up through their individual schools and GRPS coordinates all programming, including overseeing coaches, volunteers and sports events.

Current sports offerings include: coed Cross-Country (K-8), Boys Football (6-8), Girls Volleyball (6-8), Boys Soccer (3-8), Girls Soccer (3-8), Boys Basketball (3-8), Girls Basketball (3-8), Boys Wrestling (6-8), Coed Bowling (6-8), Boys Baseball (6-8), Girls Softball (6-8), Coed Competitive Cheer (6-8), Coed Golf (6-8), Coed Track (K-8), Coed Swim (6-8).

© Steven David Branon

© Steven David Branon

Get Involved – Volunteer!

The GR8 Sports, Great Kids youth sports program seeks volunteers to serve as coaches, game help and other support for programming. Fifteen different sports are offered to students in grades 6-8 and four for elementary students.

The goal of the program is to promote well-rounded student athletes in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

The program is currently accepting volunteers for all elementary sports.  Volunteers can be anyone who values a healthy community and are willing to do their part to create one.   Volunteers are expected to teach and model healthy behaviors, represent a healthy community, supervise children and establish a strong connection through the GRPS family of schools model.

GRPS does require a short application process to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our children.


What is the time commitment?

During the season, coaches commit to one or two hour-long practices each week and a game or meet on Saturday.  A season generally lasts eight weeks.


Join us!

If you would like to volunteer, please call Cara Jones at 616-988-5430 ext 4 or by email.


Advisory Council

Art Gray, Chair
Kyle Behm
Kellie Dean
Michael Huff, Vice Chair
Kurt Johnson
Joel Kamstra
Ron Knaus
Greg Meyer
Walter Moore, Jr.
Ana Aleman – Putnam
Alexis Reame
Calli Schmid
Misti Stanton
Amy Turner – Thole
Lynn Yardley
Jason Zylstra

Honorary Council

Mel Atkins, Sr.
Wayman Britt
Dave Custer
Cheri DeVos
Doug & Maria DeVos
Steven Ford
Ty Hallock
David Harris
Shelley Irwin
Dave Mehney
Peter & Joan Secchia
Tim Selgo
The Hon. Sara Smolenski
Mickey Stanley
Mike VanGessel


Cara Jones,  Director of GR8 Sports, Great Kids

Kurt Johnson, GRPS Executive Director of Athletics & Student Activities