Rockford football game honors deceased coach, raises cancer awareness

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

The game raised cancer awareness on Tuesday night.

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

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

“It inspired me a lot,” said Wyngarden. “I was younger and struggled with it at first, and seeing her win inspired me and taught me how persistent she is and always works hard and fights for everything.”

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

The team paid tribute to him before the match. His wife and children joined the team on the pitch during player presentations.

“We appreciate the Rockford community and the Rockford football for organizing this, not only for us and our extended family, but for raising awareness for all families,” said Tom’s widow Elizabeth Triesenberg.

Tom Triesenberg was a well-known figure in the local football community, referring games for children and adults, whether they played indoors or outdoors, in addition to his coaching duties.

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

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

Rockford senior forward Aaron Woods played in honor of an uncle with stage 4 cancer. Woods grew up in the community and remembers seeing the Triesenberg family at football matches.

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

The profits from the game will be donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

“They have special activities for children to inspire them throughout their fight,” Elizabeth said. “He has invested a lot in the children. He loved being with them, whether it was football or church.

Rockford defeated Jenison 3-0.

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