Faces In the Crowd: Chris & Nicole McCrimmon

November 21, 2018

By Aaron Michell

27 years ago, Nicole Gingrich met Chris McCrimmon at a Marion High School dance.
Nicole, the JV cheerleader from Pine River, had her sights set on Chris, the varsity football player from Marion. She had done some inquiring on her future husband from afar, and she fortunately had some Marion connections to attend the dance.
So they danced.
And they’ve been dancing together ever since.
Chris, now a surveyor for LCM Surveying and Engineering in downtown Marion, and Nicole, now a kindergarten teacher for Marion Elementary, have both become pillars of the Marion community.
A longtime member of the Marion School Board, Chris has helped run the Marion Little League youth baseball and softball programs, while also volunteering time to coach Pop Warner football and youth basketball. In the past, he’s also helped coach the Marion varsity baseball and football teams.
Needless to say, maroon and white runs in his blood.
Nicole, a ’93 Pine River graduate, initially earned her college degree in business, but after substitute teaching as a college student, she was hooked. In nearly 15 years as a teacher at Marion Public Schools and Big Rapids Crossroads Academy, Nicole has helped shape the lives of thousands of students. In 2015, she was named Marion’s Teacher of the Year.
Together the two have raised three beautiful children: Collin,10, Macy, 8, and Brady, 5.
When these two aren’t surveying, teaching, or coaching, the family loves to be outdoors: Traveling, camping, hunting, fishing, running, you name it – if there’s an outdoor activity to be had, they will find it.
We caught up with the McCrimmon’s recently at their home just east of Marion. We were fortunate to be blessed with the humor of Collin, Macy, and Brady during our conversation; a conversation that included Marion, sports, teaching, hunting, fishing, and of course, dancing.
We learned that the McCrimmon family – all five of them – are so much more than just faces in the crowd.

The McCrimmon family -  Nicole, Chris, Collin, Macy and Brady.

The McCrimmon family –
Nicole, Chris, Collin, Macy and Brady.

Marion Press: Chris, what were things like growing up in Marion at the McCrimmon household?
Chris: It was fun, I enjoyed it. We did a lot of work – I remember a lot of Saturdays we’d get up and either do Saturday morning basketball at the high school, or, with my mom and dad, Howard and Andrea McCrimmon, in the fall we used to do a bunch of firewood. We’d get the orders during the week, and my mom and dad had property down 10th Avenue here where his little barn was – we had 4-H animals there, and we had wood piles.
And we’d go cut five, ten, fifteen cord of firewood on a Saturday and deliver it to people. We used to do a lot of that.
I spent a lot of time at my grandpa and grandma’s house growing up, Ann and George Coon. Spent a lot of time there after school – if my mom and dad weren’t home from work yet, my sister, Rebecca, and I would head up there. My grandma would watch us until Mom and Dad got home from work.
I spent a lot of time up there in that neighborhood with my Uncle John, and Brett Ransom, and Seth Rippee, and all those guys – playing a lot of ball; playing a lot of stuff all through that neighborhood. Even Ross Richards, Steve Hyzer, Brent Ahrens, playing with all those guys – Dan DeVries… We lived in town until I was 12 or 13, on South Case Street. We lived on the same street with Chris Boudrie and Shawn Sible, and then once we got old enough our parents would let us ride our bikes – and then we’d start crossing town. That was a whole new adventure!

MP: And we know sports were a big part of your childhood; you were a part of the [1990] state championship football team. And in Marion sports history, that’s probably the greatest team that’s come through here, right?
Chris: Probably depends on who you ask! I know it’s a generational thing; a lot of the guys that were on that team with me, our dads – when they went through the school before us, they had pretty good teams also. You hear stories about such-and-such team didn’t want to come to Marion and play those guys because they’d get beat up pretty good. Dale Williams, and my Uncle George, and my dad, Dave Duddles, and some of those guys. But yeah, we had a very good team – it was a lot of fun.
I remember one game that stuck out that year, we were playing Brethren in the regional finals, and we had a big snow storm down here and a bunch of people showed up down there with shovels, and we shoveled the field off. It was a Saturday, and it just seemed like there were snow piles everywhere except for where you played on the field, and the whole field was lined with people, about 10 deep.

MP: And that was right down here at the park?
Chris: Right down at the park. I miss seeing games at the park.

MP: And then you went on to Ferris State and played football with a handful of guys from Marion.
Chris: Cade Prielipp, Mark Bontekoe, Eric Scott, Chris Boudrie and myself.

MP: That’s a good number of Division 2 football players to come out of Marion.
Chris: And at that time, Doug Bontekoe was playing at Central, Division I, and honestly, out of that group of kids during that era, there probably could’ve been another five or six play college football if they wanted to.
11-23-18 Faces in the Crowd Chris and Nicole McCrimmon Nicole_Collin_Macy_and_Brady at the first day of school 2018
MP: And Nicole, you grew up in the Tustin/LeRoy area right?
Nicole: I went to Pine River; graduated in ’93. Went to Tustin Elementary and then we consolidated into Pine River and went to high school there. I lived in the Rose Lake area, so we were down at Rose Lake quite a bit. My cousins, and their grandma lived on the lake, so we spent a lot of time on the water: at the beach, skiing, swimming. Going down to the park, getting ice cream, playing on the playground equipment down there.
I also spent some time in Dighton; my grandpa [Bill Worst] used to own the Dighton Store.

MP: The Worst Store in Dighton?
Chris: There you go, the Worst Store in Dighton!
Nicole: Absolutely! That’s what it was called at the time. He owned the store for about 10 years and I spent a lot of time in Dighton. I got to know the Hoaglund’s, the Johns’s; my mom, Cheryl, worked at the store, so while she was working, we just kind of rode our bikes and creeped around down there.
Chris: It was like daycare for ‘em – they were hanging out there all time.
Nicole: It was fun. I got to hang out at the store, and I got to know the locals, and people just passing through. It was the early ‘80s, and I was younger. I remember Dave Johns would come in and he’d call me his girlfriend – and I was pretty shy. I just kind of sat in the window seat there just smiling. Harold Birtles would come on, and he’d always give me like 25 cents.
It was fun getting to know people and see the familiar faces that would always come in.

MP: And people probably started recognizing you as the girl from the Dighton Store.
Nicole: Yep, and my mom is actually still working there. So we go down there every now and then and visit, and there will be some people who come in, and they’re looking at me, and my mom’s like: ‘That’s my daughter, Nicole.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah! I remember her.’
11-23-18 Faces in the Crowd Chris and Nicole McCrimmon Chris and Nicole with their family at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes
MP: How’d you two meet?
Chris: She’s a stalker!
Nicole: Yeah, kind of. Obviously, he was a good athlete; me, not so much – I was on the basketball team, and I was a cheerleader. I think I was a JV cheerleader [at Pine River] at the time, and him being a good athlete he played up on varsity. And I was watching the varsity game, and I’m like: Oh my gosh, here was that cute boy out there! And I just started inquiring; and I knew Cheyanna Hoagland and Loretta Sherman – our family knew their families, so I had some connections to Marion through some people in the Dighton area. So I just started inquiring. Loretta was the one who kind of hooked us up, and we met at a dance after a basketball game.

MP: Oh wow. Was that dance in Marion or Pine River?
Nicole: It was here at Marion. And the rest is history!

MP: Wow. You met at a high school dance.
Chris: At a high school dance. Happily ever after, right!?
Nicole: 27 years. We’ve been married for 20 years; we got married right after college in June of ’98.
Chris: So we started dating when we were 16.

MP: High School sweethearts.
Nicole: And college sweethearts!

MP: You’ve been married for 20 years, with all these beautiful children. What do you guys like to do?
Collin: Sports. Hunt, ski, fish.
Brady: Legos, fishing, and that’s all.
Collin: Legos, yes!
Chris: They’re all pretty good at the Legos.
Macy: Dance, piano, soccer, read, and basketball.
Chris: Hey Macy, you love basketball, right?
Brady: No! She hates it!
Macy: Noooo.

MP: But basketball’s the greatest!
Nicole: Brady’s a great little tag-along here. He’s a great supporter of his brother and sister.
Chris: Brady, what do you play?
Brady: Tee-ball.
Chris: He took Tee-ball to another level last year! He was pretty serious about it.
11-23-18 Faces in the Crowd Chris and Nicole McCrimmon The McCrimmons getting ready for some baseball and softball
MP: What is it about the Marion Community that keeps you here?
Chris: I guess the reason why we started back here, obviously we grew up in this area, but I had a job lined up right out of college to work with Matt McClung. And she was going back to school, and so it was just a good fit to come back to this area. And yeah, we didn’t even look to go anywhere else. Didn’t even look to go Grand Rapids or anywhere else. Like most people, you can move away and make a lot more money, but I don’t know. We never pursued that; it never seemed right.
Nicole: And we had two options in a way. My family has property over there in the LeRoy area, and his family has property over here, so we just needed to decide where we wanted to be, and we ended up here, in Marion. It’s a good, small community. It was a good choice.
Chris: Yes, it was a great choice.

MP: Nicole, you’ve been teaching for almost 15 years, what is your favorite part of the job?
Nicole: My favorite part of the job is just making the difference in a child’s life. It can be as simple as having them learn something new or just being there: whether it’s tying their shoes – I teach kindergarten, and I would be rich if I got a penny for all the shoes that I’ve tied. Just the kids, for the most part. Just being able to touch their lives.

MP: Do you ever get to teach your own kids?
Collin: She could’ve, but she refused!
Nicole: I didn’t refuse! I just kind of gave them the choice, and they chose Mrs. Henderson, which was fine. And I felt that, you know, they have enough of me when I’m home, that it would be nice to have that separation a little bit – and I still know what’s going on in their class, and they can’t get away with anything without me finding out.
Brady: We didn’t get to choose!
Nicole: [Speaking to Brady] You did too get to choose!
Brady: Or else we would’ve chose your class!
Chris: [Laughing] He would’ve chose you.
Nicole: Hmmm…I don’t know.
Chris: They’re pretty tight – this little one [Brady]; the youngest and his mom.
Brady: You did not let us pick!
Nicole: Fine, you didn’t have a choice. When I taught gym, I had Collin in class twice a week for a half hour, so I did get to teach the oldest.
Chris: That ruined it right there – once she taught the oldest, she never wanted to teach the rest of ‘em.

MP: Oh Collin, you must be the role model for your siblings. Chris and Nicole, who have been some of your role models growing up? And what advice have you been given, or what kind of advice has helped get you to where you’re at today?
Chris: My parents were definite role models. My grandpa and grandma were big role models in my life – I spent a lot of time over there. I spent a lot of time with my mom’s side of the family; in a big family you’ve got lots of aunts and uncles. So I spent a lot of time with all those people.
I had a lot of good people in my life, growing up in Marion: My coaches, and my teachers, and all of them. It’s like the saying: ‘It takes a village to raise somebody.’ And it is true. You get touched in a lot of different ways by everybody who you come into contact with, and I think it all helps to shape who you become growing up.
My advice would be just to work hard. I tell my kids this all the time, and it’s so true. There are definitely people who will have more natural talents, but even those people – they won’t accomplish great things without working hard. Nobody does – very rarely you might find that one person who does. But I just want them to understand the process it takes: Set a goal, apply a little bit of work everyday toward that goal, and eventually throughout the course of six months, or a year, or a couple of years, you experience growth. And I think that’s how it all gets accomplished.

MP: Hard work.
Nicole: I just like the phrase: ‘Live, love, laugh.’

MP: That’s good advice. You only get one shot at it, right?
Chris: That really is good advice. I think we all have a tendency to take things a little too serious; people in general do.
Nicole: My grandpa, Bill Worst, was a good role model. He was just a good person overall.
Chris: He would still go dancing when he was 75 years old. He was one of those guys who just really enjoyed most every day of his life.
Nicole: He just lived life to the fullest.

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One Response to Faces In the Crowd: Chris & Nicole McCrimmon

  1. austin nowwland Reply

    November 26, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    how do you get to be a face in the crowd

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