by Clyde and Laura Whitaker
Stockbridge High School senior Daniel Ballagh was awarded this year’s Grant Whitaker Leadership through Character Award during presentations June 6, marking the award’s fifth year. The occasion afforded special recognition and remembrance to the award’s namesake, Ingham County Sheriff’s Deputy Grant Whitaker.
The award, started in 2015, recognizes an SHS varsity baseball player whohas demonstrated leadership and character in interactions with others. Awardees are selected by administrators and teachers (minus coaches) from the Stockbridge Community Schools.
Ballagh played four years on the varsity baseball team and spent free time working with youth. The selection committee selected him by unanimous vote.
Ballagh, who plans to attend Olivet College, chose to wear Grant’s number 7 this school year in Whitaker’s honor.
The Whitaker family presented the award to Ballagh. Special guests in attendance included Ingham County Deputy Sheriffs who had worked with Grant Whitaker. His varsity baseball coach, Jim McDaniels, traveled from Coldwater to share memories of Grant.
The final hour of the night honored Whitaker. Head coach Bill Ballagh informed the audience and the Whitaker family that Grant’s number 7 was being retired. Head coach Bill Ballagh and assistant coach Bubber Patrick then pulled back the stage curtains and surprised the audience with three framed baseball jerseys with Grant’s number 7 on them. In the history of Stockbridge High School, there has never been a number retired.
The white jersey will be kept by the Whitaker family, the orange jersey will be displayed at the high school, and the black jersey will be displayed at the Ingham County Sheriffs office in Grant’s training room.
The Whitaker family expressed appreciation for the showing of respect and honor for their son, brother, brother-in-law, and uncle.