HAMILTON — Riley Tolsma has been keeping busy with a few select tasks: lifting weights in his barn, homework and chopping down some trees in his yard.
He’s chopped down close to 15 trees so far.
“That’s been keeping me pretty busy,” Tolsma said.
Another thing that would have been keeping Tolsma, a senior at Hamilton, busy is the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) All-Star Game. Tolsma was named to the West Team’s roster as a linebacker.
The 38th-annual East-West All-Star game was canceled, but the rosters were still announced to honor the athletes.
“I’m just thrilled and honored to be recognized for something as great as that,” Tolsma said. “I’m kind of bummed about it because it would have been fun to get the opportunity to show off my skills with other good players around the state. I think that would have fun.”
Hamilton coach Phil Koops said Tolsma is very deserving of the honor.
“Riley is a big, strong, fast football player — then you throw in how smart he is and you start to understand how he racked up 99 tackles last year,” Koops said. “A lot of people look at him, see the size and the talent, and forget how hard he worked to get himself to this point. Riley was a team leader, weight-room warrior and did everything we asked of him on the field.
“As a first year head coach last fall, he was a kid that I felt extremely blessed to have on our side. Our staff is very proud of him and looking forward to seeing what he does at Hillsdale.”
Tolsma, who will play football at Hillsdale College this fall, was a first-team, Division 4 All-State selection by the MHSFCA and a second-team D3-4 All-State selection by The Associated Press this past season. He recorded 99 tackles and four interceptions for the Hawkeyes.
He’s hoping the upcoming football season is unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Football season is still on as of now, so we’ll see how it goes,” Tolsma said. “Hopefully it won’t affect it.”
Tolsma has been meeting with his position group remotely so far.
“We just go over film, talk, ask questions and stuff,” Tolsma said. “It’s been a neat experience.”
He said Hillsdale feels like the perfect place for him so far.
“I’ve kind of known that for a long time because my sister went there, and I’ve always liked the place and now it’s just starting to get more and more real now that we’re getting closer to the fall,” Tolsma said.
Tolsma would have been competing in track and field this spring as his last dance with high school sports, but will never see that final season realized.
He said he and many others have to find a way to persevere.
“It was kind of disappointing and kind of surreal to realize I was done with high school sports,” Tolsma said. “Even though track wasn’t one of my favorite sports, it was still fun to go out there and compete, and I feel really bad for the people that it was their favorite sport and missed out.
“It’s disappointing and weird, to be honest, because nothing like this has ever happened, but you’ve just got to make it through.”
— Contact Assistant Sports Editor Beau Troutman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BVTroutman.