It’s a battle in the trenches as the Grosse Pointe Red Barons and  Harper Woods Bills line up against each other.

It’s a battle in the trenches as the Grosse Pointe Red Barons and Harper Woods Bills line up against each other.

Photo by Patrica O’Blenes

Grosse Pointe Red Barons continue legacy program

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 20, 2022

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GROSSE POINTES — Family and football are two things that have always seemed to coincided.

Whether it’s spending time with family to watch the games, attending high school games to watch someone play, or heading out to Ford Field to watch the game in person, football continues to be a family-oriented sport.

In the Grosse Pointes, a legacy-filled program has prided itself on putting family first on the football field.

“We always say football is family, and this really embodies that,” Grosse Pointe Red Barons president Randie Kohler said. “It’s not just the south or the north; it’s all about Grosse Pointe and the surrounding areas.”

Kohler became a part of the program because she wanted to register her son for flag football, and since then, she has been a board member, vice president and now president of the program for two years.

The Grosse Pointe Red Barons have been a part of the Grosse Pointe community since 1954. The program offers football and cheer for children ages 6-13.

The football program features flag football for ages 6-8, and then players can move to freshman, junior varsity and varsity. Cheer is broken down into grade and age levels.

The cheer program competes in an annual cheer competition for all grades against the other Eastern Suburban League teams.

Like the football team, there’s a standard to be held to when you’re a part of the Red Barons program.

“You’re teaching them about the game and about sportsmanship, and about representing the game and the community,” Red Barons cheer coordinator Renee Jakubowski said. “We talk about when you have the Red Barons uniform on, you’re representing the community.”

With almost 70 years to its name, Kohler said the involvement from past Red Barons is what makes the program special.

“It’s so cool because the Red Barons are multigenerational,” Kohler said. “A lot of our kids that are playing are grandkids of former Red Barons, and it’s neat and it’s fun to see all the parents and grandparents come out and talk about when they were playing.”

The football program competes in the Eastern Suburban Football League with teams from nearby cities.

For all age groups, the program provides helmets, shoulder pads, game pants and game jerseys.

While the program commits to its players, there’s a commitment that the players and their families make as well. With practices or games taking place five days a week, the football season is a true commitment for the young athletes.

“I would say the first thing, and it’s something I try to teach, is the commitment to the program,” Red Barons football coach Brian Arnold said. “We go five days a week, and the practices are two hours; it’s a real commitment.”

Arnold, who coaches the freshman team, has been a coach for four years with the Red Barons after registering his son into the program.

Coaches are volunteer-led in the program, but the family-based style of the Red Barons attracts parents into the program.

“I feel like almost everyone we have has had another family member that participates,” Arnold said. “It’s very family oriented; I think that’s something we try to cultivate.”

Barre Mackie, coach of the varsity Red Barons football team, joined the program this year after volunteering for the position.

Mackie, who played high school football at University Liggett, was a walk-on at Michigan State University as a wide receiver from 2004-2006.

While having no ties to the program previously, Mackie said the Red Barons specialize in making members feel like family.

“It’s one of the best organizations I’ve ever been a part of,” Mackie said. “Seeing how Randie and all the coaches kind of work together, it’s a very well-run organization, and it has strong ties with the community.”

For information on the Red Barons, visit