LITTLE SCHOOL SPAWNS BIG LEAGUE ATHLETES
In one of the biggest surprises of the last decade in Oakland County, Class D Southfield Christian has turned into a hotbed for big-time college and professional athletes. Over the past 12 months, two players from the school's recently-founded football program have garnered themselves scholarships to the Big Ten Conference. I don't know for certain, but I would guess that one would be hard-pressed to find any small school football team in the state that can make such a claim. And the Eagles just started their squad five years ago and have only qualified for the playoffs once (2008).
In June, gargantuan incoming senior defensive lineman, Shafer Johnson (6-1, 305) verbally committed to Indiana after wowing Hoosier coaches with a spectacular performance at an elite recruit camp held in Bloomington. A similar situation developed last year when then-senior defensive end Taylor Calero used the offseason to skyrocket up recruiting charts to land a scholarship to Michigan State. Calero's classmate, the recently-graduated Devon Bailey, a two-time all-state tailback, had numerous scholarship offers from the MAC, yet chose to walk-on at MSU instead.
Amazingly, the Eagles have also produced a pair of NHL players, despite not having a hockey program. First, Brian Rafalski, a 1991 grad of the school, is one of the best American-born players in the league. Rafalski has won three Stanley Cups and has played in five Stanley Cup Finals. Following an All-American collegiate career at Wisconsin, however, he couldn't find his way into the NHL for five long years, a time in which he spent his playing days in Sweden. Finally, in the 1999-2000 season, he was inked by the New Jersey Devils. That's when his career took off. By 2002 he had been selected as an NHL all-star and in 2007 he signed a 30 million dollar contract with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. An Olympic selection for Team USA earlier this year, his play was a major reason the Americans almost came away with the gold, coming mere minutes away from upsetting favorites Team Canada.
Besides Rafalski, NHL'er and former Eagle Rob Globke also found success as a pro. Graduating from SC in 2000, he played his college puck at Notre Dame and became a 2ndnd round NHL draft pick of the Florida Panthers, a team that he is going into his 11th season playing for.
Not to be outdone by his famous fellow alumi, John Coyle, who graduated from the school in 1986, took home a Silver Medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics as a speed skater.