New Athletic Director Plans To Continue the Tradition of Excellence

Chris Zylstra takes the reins and becomes the high school’s new athletic director


Tom Caprara

Athletic Director Chris Zylstra poses in front of the East Grand Rapids seal

Walking down the hallways, you may see a new face wearing an East pullover. Weaving in and out of meetings with coaches and players, new athletic director Chris Zylstra has quickly become a familiar sight.

Before becoming an Athletic Director, Zylstra was a teacher and coach at Wyoming High School. In high school he played both football and baseball, and is very passionate about improving sports at East. 

“I was in the classroom for eight years, and I finished up my masters in Administrative education. Coaching is awesome because you get to build relationships, and teaching is awesome because you get to build relationships with students,” he said. 

But he switched to the job of Athletic Director as a way to make a bigger impact on all sports, “and [to be able to] see all our student-athletes compete and grow over the course of their high school experience,” Zylstra said. 

Growing up he knew East was special, “I was teaching and coaching at Wyoming and we played East a lot,” Zylstra said, so when he heard about the job opening he jumped on it. 

“I have a friend who works for the city of East Grand Rapids, and he let me know Mr. Johnston was retiring and I was like well I’ll apply. It’s kinda a dream job for me,” Zylstra said. 

So far he has enjoyed working with all our athletes, coaches, and our new weight lifting program PowerStrength.

“We want to stay where we are at and we want to find more places where we can grow. PowerStrength is definitely a part of that growing our capacity as student-athletes, as well as growing our capacity as humans and individuals.” Zylstra said. 

He has enjoyed all the community aspects of sports in East and has been impressed with the turnout to games. He even noticed that even though soccer games are not well attended, there are ten times as many people as he expected. 

While working at East he has been impressed with the way the athletes act both on the field and in the weight room. “It’s just an awesome environment here,” Zylstra said,

“[My favorite part of the job] is seeing the community come out for a common goal and common purpose which is our student-athletes competing and carrying for themselves with pride and integrity,” Zylstra said. “The community support we have for this athletic program has been amazing.”