Student impacted by death of mentor


Junior Aaron Cummings mourns death of Robin Bye. Bye taught Cummings many life lessons including how to be a man.

Brianna Moynihan, Sports editor

It’s a Friday night. Students and parents file into an already packed field house, a common occurrence. But this Friday night there wasn’t a basketball game, a volleyball game, or even a pep assembly.

Instead of sports fans whooping and hollering, the people were adorned in black clothing and melancholy expressions. A quiet haze settled over the normally loud gym. This Friday night, no sporting events took place in the field house. This Friday night, students, athletes, staff and other community members quietly milled about, mourning together at the wake for Robin Bye. Hundreds of students were affected by the death of Grand Haven High School’s Athletic Director. But one student in particular was hurting more than others.

Standing in the sea of students, Junior Aaron Cummings, a normally self assured and outgoing athlete is suddenly somber when athletic director Mr. Bye is mentioned. Bye had been Cummings’ art teacher when he arrived in the school district in seventh grade. When Cummings first started in Grand Haven, he was struggling with some personal issues. Bye noticed and took an interest in Aaron.

“He was the first person to really take me on, he took me under his wing,” Cummings said. “He thought I needed some help, he wanted to help me out.”

Cummings and Bye would meet in the mornings before class began, along with janitor Mr. Pierson and a few of Cummings’ friends, including Chase VanHoef.

“Mr. Bye really tried to connect with us all during those meetings, especially Aaron,” VanHoef said.

They referred to these daily meeting as the “Gentleman’s lounge”. It was here that Bye and Cummings forged their strong relationship.

“We would watch sports and talk about what’s been going on,” Cummings said. “Mr. Bye took the time to talk to us personally, get to know us.”

To Cummings, Bye was more than just a teacher.

“I haven’t really had my dad with me my entire life, so Mr. Bye became like another dad to me,” Cummings said.

Bye did more than just get to know the boys each day. He taught lessons that, according to Cummings, are ones he will carry for the rest of his life.

“Mr. Bye taught me how to conduct myself like a gentleman, how to conduct myself around people and what I should say and do,” Cummings said. “He taught me how to be a man.”

Bye also taught him to lead.

“He was the perfect leader,” Cummings said. “[He’s] the best man I have ever met in my life. I owe all my leadership qualities to him.”

Last wrestling season, Cummings surprised Bye by representing him in the cancer awareness match. Bye was unaware of this plan.

“I told Mrs. Way to just tell him to come and give him a front row seat,” Cummings said. “I remember looking at his face when they announced who I was wrestling for, and he was really happy…It was a great night.”

Cummings ended up winning his wrestling match by ten points, as Bye watched from the side of the mat.

“It’s a night I’ll never forget,” Cummings said.

After 34 years serving in the Grand Haven District, Bye left an impact on the community and the students within in.

“He was a man with a lot of integrity,” Cummings said. “That man was my role model.”