Honoring a career that has spanned more than three decades, WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids) Sports Director Jack Doles was inducted on Tuesday into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.
He has covered just about every major sporting event since joining News 8 in 1990: the Rose Bowl, the Super Bowl, the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals and the World Series. He’s been to multiple NCAA Final Four tournaments with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, the Ryder Cup and two Major League Baseball All-Star Games.
Jack has also worked as a sideline reporter for NBC Sports, and his biggest passion lies in covering the Olympic Games. He has been to 10 of them during his career, visiting Calgary, Seoul, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Torino, Beijing, Sochi, Rio and Pyeongchang. Next year, he’ll cover the games in Tokyo.
It is a resume that reads like a stat sheet of sweet successes. But those closest to him will tell you that the moments that matter most to him as a sports reporter are found in the stories that play out in the smallest corners of the human heart.
“He gets so energized telling the stories of the underdog, the triumph of the human spirit. He just loves that,” his wife Susan Doles said.
Jack is noted for a form of sports reporting that examines elements beyond a simple game, illuminating more universal themes: being the little guy, the underdog, the athletes given another chance and those who we lost much too soon. It is storytelling that emphasizes service above self.
Those are the character traits he models as a husband and father of four children.
“My dad is one of the biggest role models in my life,” his youngest daughter Julie said.
“He’s wired to see a person or story or anything at all and just instantly recognize its potential,” oldest daughter Kelly added. “He sees something and is so inclined to elevate it.”
Jack will receive the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which is named for the man who for so many years served as his mentor, former WOOD TV Sports Director Warren Reynolds. Reynolds’ widow Sharron said Jack has carried on her husband’s legacy of giving back.
“I remember Warren’s last day on the job. That day he stayed up to watch Jack on the 11 p.m. news. He looked at me and said, ‘He’s going to be terrific,’” Sharron recalled.
Ferris State University head football coach Tony Annese said Jack is known among fellow coaches as a straight shooter.
“The word that comes to mind is integrity. He’s very principled in his work and he has unbelievable integrity,” Annese said. “I’m proud to call him a friend.”
Jack has the travel miles, the press passes and the even the bad back to show for his many years of sports reporting.
And, as his oldest son Tommy explains, he has one true compass:
“He didn’t just tell us what mattered, he showed us. So when he tells you to respect others, he’s also treating the person at the checkout at Meijer like he does a famous professional athlete,” Tommy Doles said.
Husband, father, Hall of Famer and always in a class by himself: all traits celebrated by the youngest Doles child, Jimmy.
“I think that’s a great accomplishment. I’ve never been more proud to call you my dad,” Jimmy Doles said.