NCAA Division III Week Spotlight: Sophia Farbarzhevich, Women’s Diving

Editor’s note: From Monday-Sunday, April 1-7, Hope College Athletics is celebrating NCAA Division III Week with member schools across the country as we observe and celebrate the impact Division III athletics and student-athletes have on campus and in the surrounding community. There are special events planned at Hope Athletics home events throughout the week. Check out Hope Athletics social media accounts for more stories. As part of Division III Week, Hope softball pitcher and communication major Grace Connelly ‘25 is profiling four peers throughout Division III Week for the Hope Athletics blog.

Hope College senior Sophia Farbarzhevich has made the most of her time, in and out of the pool, as an NCAA Division III student-athlete.

In addition to being a high-achieving diver on the MIAA champion women’s swimming and diving team, she has been on a pre-medicine track: majoring in Spanish and minoring in chemistry and neuroscience. 

Farbarzhevich (Grand Rapids, Michigan / Forest Hills Northern HS) is involved in research, the pre-health professionals club, and the Students Teaching and Empowering Peers (STEP) organization. She is a member of the Sigma Iota Beta (SIB) sorority. She went on a Sports Evangelism to Equip Disciples (SEED) trip to Zambia.

As Farbarzhevich has continued to commit her time to various activities, she has understood the importance of being present. With a rigorous schedule, she has to be intentional with her time and understand what is important.

People are at the top of her list. It’s a priority that has played a key role in the development and success of the diving team, diving coach Becca Garza said. 

“This sport is about relationships and connections,” Garza said. “Soph loves and craves relationships. She has been such a blessing to help build the program over the last four years.”

As Farbarzhevich has grown in this confidence, she has seen success both academically and athletically.  

She was named to the All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association First Team as a junior and the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America Second Team as a sophomore. 

Farbarzhevich focuses on what others have given her.  Throughout her time with the dive team, the relationships she’s cultivated have become a huge part of who she is.

“Setting out time for the people I love has been really important and has changed me for the better,” Farbarzhevich said. “I have learned so much about myself and others, trying to understand who I am while growing through diving. 

“As I’ve grown closer with the dive team, we have become a family. I have seen characteristics within the other athletes that I desire to see in myself which helped me become more comfortable and confident with who I am.”

Hope Athletics website

NCAA Division III Week Spotlight: Kyle Langdon, Men’s Swimming

Editor’s note: From Monday-Sunday, April 1-7, Hope College Athletics is celebrating NCAA Division III Week with member schools across the country as we observe and celebrate the impact Division III athletics and student-athletes have on campus and in the surrounding community. There are special events planned at Hope Athletics home events throughout the week. Check out Hope Athletics social media accounts for more stories. As part of Division III Week, Hope softball pitcher and communication major Grace Connelly ‘25 is profiling four peers throughout Division III Week for the Hope Athletics blog.

Kyle Langdon’s experience as a student-athlete on the Hope College men’s swimming and diving team exemplifies how athletics and academics can work together in life-changing ways.

It started before the now senior swimmer for the Flying Dutchmen even decided to enroll at the college. 

From the beginning of the recruiting process, Langdon explained, “[Coach Jake] Taber instilled personal hope in me, and the fact that he believed in me was huge for my confidence as an athlete.”

Langdon (Holland, Michigan / West Ottawa HS) quickly saw his life transformed on campus.

After taking a leadership class as a freshman and connecting with the material, Langdon discovered a passion for leadership and the joy that comes from developing others.  

He is now pursuing a minor in leadership along with his business major. He values the skills that he has been learning, implementing them into practices and daily interactions with his teammates.

“In every conversation I have with a teammate, I want them to be impacted positively, or I want to take away something more personable allowing us to be more connected than before,” he said.

His commitment and leadership led to him being named team captain during the 2023-24 season, a sign of how he had grown into the potential that his coach had seen four years earlier.

“Kyle is one of those guys who finds a way to bring the best out in others,” Taber said. “His value comes from who he is, what he’s doing behind the scenes and how accountable he is to his teammates.”

As Langdon approaches graduation and reflects on his time at Hope, he appreciates the confidence that he has gained as a student-athlete, leader, and professional.

He also believes that growth as a student-athlete at Hope will continue to make a difference to him in the future.

“I feel like I know myself a little bit better now,” he said. “I now know who I am, what I value and who I value. I have a good sense of direction of where I want to be and I’m most proud of those I’ve impacted in a positive way.”

Hope Athletics website

NCAA Division III Week Spotlight: Raven Jemison, Women’s Basketball

Editor’s note: From Monday-Sunday, April 1-7, Hope College Athletics is celebrating NCAA Division III Week with member schools across the country as we observe and celebrate the impact Division III athletics and student-athletes have on campus and in the surrounding community. There are special events planned at Hope Athletics home events throughout the week. Check out Hope Athletics social media accounts for more stories. As part of Division III Week, Hope softball pitcher and communication major Grace Connelly ‘25 is profiling four peers throughout Division III Week for the Hope Athletics blog.

Raven Jemison holds a basketball.

Raven Jemison brought fire to the MIAA regular-season champion and Sweet Sixteen qualifying Hope College women’s basketball team this season but notes that she wasn’t always that way. 

The senior from Grand Rapids, Michigan appreciates how the opportunities as a NCAA Division III student-athlete have transformed her — helping her to live into her full self and pursue becoming all that she was created to be. 

An English major with a creative writing emphasis, Jemison explains that she has become more extroverted as a student-athlete at Hope, going out of her way to see people and engaging in personal conversations creating deeper relationships that will last a lifetime.

Jemison has also become intentional with her time, being fully present with her teammates, living in the moment and investing in personal relationships.  

The perspective was brought home, while far away, on another continent, during a women’s basketball team trip to Italy during the summer of 2022. The opportunity was eye-opening as Jemison realized she would never be in that same experience again with all of her teammates and coaches.

“I will never be a part of this program again, so I have to enjoy what I have at this moment,” Jemison said. “A lot of people want to talk about where they want to be, but you’ll never get there if you don’t enjoy what you have now.”

Jemison is part of a storied women’s basketball program that won national championships three times and advanced to postseason play 23 times since the first national title in 1990.

Jemison started at center this season, helping a young team with five new starters reach the third round of the NCAA Tournament and finish with a 26-4 overall record. The Flying Dutch claimed an outright MIAA championship, their 20th league title.

In addition to her contributions on the court, Jemison played an important role in fostering a winning environment off the court —  a reflection of her dedication to becoming the best version of herself while helping others develop.  

To her teammates and coaches, Jemison is a transformative person herself. Head coach Brian Morehouse said the underclassmen often look to her for direction and guidance.

“She has the biggest soul and continues to use that for good to impact everyone around her,” Morehouse said.“Raven is the kindest girl on the team and highly approachable. She does a great job of recognizing who is hurting and who is thriving and coming alongside them.”

Hope Athletics website

NCAA Division III Week Spotlight: Aidan Kyle, Track and Field

Editor’s note: From Monday-Sunday, April 1-7, Hope College Athletics is celebrating NCAA Division III Week with member schools across the country as we observe and celebrate the impact Division III athletics and student-athletes have on campus and in the surrounding community. There are special events planned at Hope Athletics home events throughout the week. Check out Hope Athletics social media accounts for more stories. As part of Division III Week, Hope softball pitcher and communication major Grace Connelly ‘25 is profiling four peers throughout Division III Week for the Hope Athletics blog.

Aidan Kyle holds a javellin.

Aidan Kyle likes to challenge himself and seek out new experiences. The Hope College junior student-athlete and communication major found meaningful opportunities to do both at a familiar place for his family.

A fourth-generation student at Hope, Kyle arrived on campus three years ago from Weston, Connecticut, as a baseball player but discovered quickly a new passion: track and field.

In the spring semester of his freshman year, Kyle switched sports and joined the Flying Dutchmen track and field team. He devoted himself to an athletic endeavor he’d never before attempted: throwing the javelin. 

Despite his inexperience, Kyle went on to win MIAA outdoor championships in back-to-back years.

“To come in and win as a freshman is astonishing, as he had never thrown javelin before and most people [who compete] have,” head coach Kevin Cole said.

Kyle’s success reflects natural talent for the event, but it is also the result of hard work. His commitment to elevating his own performance also contributes to team culture.

“He is an elite status athlete, which means constantly finding new ways as a coaching staff to challenge him as he desires to improve his craft,” Cole said.

Kyle is no less driven during his time away from the javelin runway and landing sector. 

After his freshman year, he desired a new challenge and a mental reset, so he participated in programs offered through the college’s Fried Center for Global Engagement. He studied abroad in London during the fall semester of his sophomore year. 

Change can be challenging and requires the ability to come out of one’s comfort zone. 

Kyle believes his time abroad proved to be the best experience for him because he immersed himself in new communities, adapted to a new culture, and learned a lot about who he is. 

He plans to use the lessons and experiences he learned through sport as he plans to pursue a future career in media production.

“Being able to live alone in a different country was a really big growth opportunity for me. It helped me become more independent, and built confidence within myself,” he said.

Hope Athletics website

Liz VanderSlice honors her late father, Chris VanderSlice ’99, during NCAA Championships push

Chris VanderSlice stands with his wife and two daughters.
The VanderSlice family, from left, Liz, Chris, Hannah and Tonya.

Junior Liz VanderSlice lovingly wrapped a Swiss-made NCAA Championships watch around her left wrist before embarking on another title quest with the Hope College volleyball team.

Chris VanderSlice ’99, her late father and former Flying Dutchmen basketball captain, remains close to her no matter where she travels.

This week, Liz is in Claremont, California, outside of Los Angeles, to compete at the NCAA Division III Championships hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. It is Liz’s second consecutive trip to the national quarterfinals and her first as a starting outside hitter. 

Led by head coach Becky Schmidt, the second-ranked Flying Dutch (30-2) face ninth-ranked Johns Hopkins, Md., University (28-4) on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. The match will be streamed on The winner advances to the national semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 30.

Twenty-five years ago, Chris helped Hope finish national runner-up on the basketball court for the second time in three seasons. He also was a member of the 1996 team that was national runner-up.

“My mom and my sister, we have his two [NCAA Championships] watches. I have this one; it’s a good luck charm,” Liz said of the gold-trimmed, white timepiece with a black band. 

Cancer Fighter

Chris VanderSlice shoots a jumper at the Holland Civic Center.
Chris VanderSlice

Six years ago on October 28, Chris died at the age of 40 following a four-year battle with cancer. The well-liked and well-respected administrator and teacher for Grandville Public Schools was survived by his wife, Tonya, and their daughters, Hannah and Liz.

While memories of his difficult and long fight against cancer and his physical absence today understandably still are painful at times, Liz said she and her family still take inspiration from him.

“If I have a bad game or if Coach tells me to make a correction in practice, I catch myself sometimes saying ‘I can’t’,” Liz said. “Instead, I’m like, I’m not going to think like that; that’s just ingrained in me. He said, ‘You can always find a way to do something.’ I’ve always had an attitude, just like how my dad raised us in our family like no one’s going to tell me what I can and can’t do.

“Not that Coach ever set expectations like that early on, but I was like ‘I’m not going to let someone tell me I can’t play because I know I can,” Liz said. “When I put my mind to something, usually I can make it happen. I have a confidence in my ability.”

Liz was not invited to play volleyball when she enrolled at Hope after being a three-sport athlete at Grandville High School. She instead joined the track and field team as a freshman.

Opportunity earned

A year later, Liz visited Coach Schmidt coincidentally on the same day that a roster spot unexpectedly opened up. Liz jumped at the opportunity to play volleyball for the Flying Dutch. She saw limited action as a sophomore, appearing in four matches, for the 2022 Hope team that advanced to the national quarterfinals for the fourth time in program history.

Liz VanderSlice flexes her right arm while holding a volleyball in her left arm.
Liz VanderSlice

Not satisfied with just being on the team, Liz continued to sharpen her game during spring practice and drew the attention of Hope’s coaching staff.

This season, Liz has blossomed into a full-time regular on the court after an injury to teammate Annie Lockett — a returning honorable-mention All-American, too — opened playing time on the right side.

Supported by extended family, including her mom and sister, Liz has appeared in all 32 games for the Flying Dutch. The 5-10 biomedical/bioelectrical engineering major and future medical salesperson is averaging 1.90 kills per set and ranks fifth on the team.

It is a similar path as Chris, who saw limited action during the Flying Dutchmen’s 1996 tournament run and became a key leader in the team’s 1998 postseason drive.

Today, Liz made herself into the significant contributor she is, Schmidt said.

Success story

“This is one of those success stories that I can’t take any credit for. Throughout last season, she kept getting up to speed with the college speed of the game. She didn’t have a big role, then she had to adjust to playing different positions. I think that allowed her to dive in, test her own play and find ways to continue to get better,” Schmidt said. “I give her a ton of credit because she took the initiative to make the most out of every opportunity. She kept pushing.

“Then, she took Dance for Sports with Nicki Flinn [-Culver] in the spring. She gained so much more coordination over her body to the point last spring that we were like ‘She is really hitting the ball hard.’ When Annie [Lockett] went down with a sprained ankle and made a need for another outside position, every time we would put people in competitive battles, she kept stepping up.”

Liz reminded Schmidt of someone she respected while a student-athlete at Hope. While Chris was playing basketball, Schmidt played volleyball for the Flying Dutch before graduating in 1999.

“I think about Chris, too. I didn’t know him that well, but we were classmates,” Schmidt said. “I did watch him play basketball and I could see how gritty he was and how hard he worked: just nose-to-the-grindstone type of athlete he was. I definitely see those same traits in Liz.”

Daughter and father: both finely crafted like a Swiss watch.

SEED Mission Trips: Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast

Two Hope student-athletes play with three youth in Africa.

On the season’s final episode of the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast, four Hope College student-athletes joined Sports Information Director Alan Babbitt to discuss their service-filled and life-changing SEED trips this summer.

Senior Libby Strotman, senior Madeline Tessin, junior David Brace and junior David Hesselbein each took part in a Sports Evangelism to Equip Disciples (SEED) mission trip.

The program annually provides opportunities for Hope student-athletes to serve in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Uganda, and Zambia.

Hope students will utilize their passion for sport to share the love of Christ with individuals around the world.

Through participating in the SEED program, students will be intentionally challenged to use their experiences to sow the seed and water the harvest so that the Good News of Jesus Christ takes root in their lives as it is shared worldwide.

Central America

Hesselbein (Barrington, Illinois / Barrington Community HS) is a goalie for the Flying Dutchmen. The physical and health education major traveled to Costa Rica.

“We were partnered with an organization called Push the Rock,” Hesselbein said. “For the first half of the trip, we did mostly sports camps and a lot of ministry in schools and prisons. The second half of the trip, we went into more tribal areas, less populated and a little bit more off the grid. That’s when we started partnering with Sawyer (Products) to bring water filters to provide clean water for people who didn’t have a source of clean water. That was really cool, too.”

Tessin (Waxhaw Ridge, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) is a swimmer for the Flying Dutch. The exercise science major went to the Dominican Republic.

“We worked with a ministry called Go Ministries and they work specifically through sports and church planting,” Tessin said. “While we were there, we traveled around a lot to different communities. We did a basketball practice with one group, then we just played with kids with another. Daniel mentioned the water filters, and we did those near Haiti.”


Stratman (Park Ridge, Illinois / Maine Township) competes in throwing events on the track and field team. The physical and health education major traveled to Zambia.

“We served the people in Choma, then the two surrounding communities. While we were there, we ran a three-day sports camp,” Strotman said. “We also had a day of service where we built a softball field, which was super cool, and then got to play on it with other people in the community. We partnered with a group called Poetice, which has a lot of Hope history, and was really cool to work with.”

Brace (Plymouth, Michigan / Plymouth) is a midfielder for the Flying Dutchmen lacrosse team. The business major went to Uganda.

“We went to southern Uganda and worked there with Sports Outreach, which brings in children from neighboring communities and teaches the ministry through sports,” Brace said. “We were holding sports camps, and then we’d go into communities in that area and deliver the Sawyer water filters as well. We also went to northern Uganda and it was a little more rural. We gave away a lot of those water filters. It was a great experience. We’re so thankful that Sawyer and Sports Outreach took us in with open arms.”

Read a transcript of the interview.

Sisters Ana and Heleyna Tucker: Hope College Athletics Podcast

Heleyna Tucker poses for a portrait.
Heleyna Tucker
Ana Tucker poses for a portrait.
Ana Tucker

Sisters Ana and Heleyna Tucker reflected on their memorable run as Hope College student-athletes and teammates during the latest episode of the Hope College Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast.

The former cross country and track team champions spoke with Sports Information Director Alan Babbitt about their unique family bond as part of a set of triplets, their different educational pursuits and their shared passion for running.

Both Midland, Michigan, natives graduated from Hope College in May. They are now pursuing post-graduate studies and living apart for the first time in their lives.

Ana is working on her doctorate in physical therapy at Grand Valley State University while also running competitively for the NCAA Division II Lakers. The exercise science major at Hope posted 11 NCAA All-America efforts over three sports during her Flying Dutch, including in each of the cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons as a senior.

Heleyna is studying applied statistics in graduate school at the University of Michigan. The mathematics major joined Ana in helping the Flying Dutch win four MIAA titles in cross country and three apiece in indoor and outdoor track and field.

Accomplished Family

Their brother, Charles, recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in computer science. He now works for the United States Department of Defense.

“We all have different personality traits and over time, I think we really just learned how to balance each other out, “Each other strengths would fill each other’s weaknesses. That bond is really noticeable. When Heleyna and I went to Hope, it was very noticeable that Charles was away and that there wasn’t that balance.  Now, Heleyna and I are going to separate schools, to separate grad programs. It’s definitely noticeable that we’re apart. Charles actually started running too and he’s doing quite well. We go on triplet runs sometimes together.”

The Tucker sisters also expressed their gratitude for their time at Hope College and all the different people who supported them, taught them and coached them.

“I bet we would both say Norty, our head cross country coach,” Heleyna said, mentioning Mark Northuis, Hope College’s head cross country coach and distance coach for track and field. “He’s definitely been someone to shape us and talk to us if we’re struggling. He helps us in any other aspect because going to college is a big transition is not having your family there. You don’t have your parents to talk to and I feel like your coach kind of becomes like that, an adult figure for you to talk to you if you have an issue. They kind of know if something is wrong. You walk in and can just tell. 

“I’d say, all the math professors have been such amazing influences on me. I mean to name one, I remember in my freshman year I took a Calc 2 class with Aaron Cinzori. He just really impacted me my freshman year and made me really want to pursue being a math major and look more into that in the future. All the math faculty, they’re amazing.”

Read a written transcript of the interview.

David Blahnik: Hope College Athletics Podcast

During a recent jog, Hope College men’s soccer coach David Blahnik listened to the “Revisionist History” podcast episode that explored the vision, impact and potential of the college’s “Hope Forward” initiative.

David Blahnik poses for a portrait.
David Blahnik, Hope College men’s soccer head coach

In the segment, titled “A Good Circle”, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell spoke with Hope College President Matthew A. Scogin regarding the college’s revolutionary approach to removing tuition as a barrier for access to college while building generosity and community along the way.

Scogin’s words during the episode resonated, Blahnik said, and provided inspiration for the Flying Dutchmen soccer program as well.

“He talked about the idea of running towards challenges and that really resonated with me. I was laughing. I was actually running while I was listening,” Blahnik said earlier this month while recording the latest episode of the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast. 

“I like the idea of we wan our program to be something where you’re running towards the challenges: on the field, off the field, in the locker room, and all those other areas I thought about, so when somebody leaves here as a Hope grad, they really are able to go and, in a sense, conquer whatever they want to conquer in their life going forward.”

Blahnik is heading into his second season leading the Flying Dutchmen. His team reports to campus on Friday, Aug. 19, to begin preparations for the 2023 season opener on Friday, September 1, against Ohio Wesleyan University at Van Andel Soccer Stadium. Kickoff is 6 p.m.

Hope is aiming to challenge for an MIAA regular-season title after finishing runner-up last season in the standings and the league tournament. The Flying Dutchmen went 7-5-6 overall.

Soccer: A Life’s Passion

On the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast, Blahnik talks about this season’s schedule, his coaching staff and what to expect from the Flying Dutchmen.

Blahnik also chats about his journey to Hope College, including how he decided between two sports he loved playing — soccer and baseball, and his time as a student-athlete and head men’s soccer coach at his alma mater, Olivet Nazarene University, near Chicago. 

Off the field, Blahnik balances coaching soccer at a high level with being a loving husband and father of two sons, ages 9 and 4. His wife, Karlynn, is a local kindergarten teacher, so the month of September is an extremely busy one for his family.

“It’s difficult but awesome to be a college head coach and have a family,” Blahnik said. “You spend a lot of time with others, but at the same time, my 9-year-old thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world to be around the guys. My son’s over at Hope Tennis Academy right now during their summer season with my niece and my 4-year-old is watching. We love the community.

“We want our kids to go to Hope, whether I am working here or not, so when the opportunity arose (to coach here) it was a no-brainer for us. We’ll figure it out. I don’t think any head coach who’s married has the perfect way of doing it, but we try to make the most of it for us.”

Read a written transcript of the interview.

Delaney Wesolek: Hope College Athletics Podcast

Delaney Wesolek’s daily calendar fills up quickly as a Hope College swimmer and nursing student. Time is precious as a student-athlete with early-morning practices, classes or clinicals during the day, afternoon practices, and evening homework or relaxation.

Delaney Wesolek poses for a portrait.
Delaney Wesolek

Maximizing all of the opportunities, Wesolek handles daily tasks at an extremely high level. In April, the senior from Bay City, Michigan (John Glenn HS) was named the 2023 Hope College Be Strong. Be True. Female Athlete of the Year. One month earlier, Wesolek competed on relays at the NCAA Division III Championships and helped the Flying Dutch finish 10th in the nation.

Wesolek recently joined the Hope College Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast, along with head swimming and diving coach Jake Taber, to talk about what it is like to be a Division III student-athlete at Hope.

In addition to swimming and studying, Wesolek has been involved with Dance Marathon at Hope, an annual fundraiser for the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, and helped start Team 43, a support group for Hope student-athletes that focuses on mental health.

“Old school” time management

How does Wesolek keep on top of everything? 

“For me, I would say I’m kind of old school in how I do my time management. My paper planner is my best friend, and I rely on it so much,” Wesolek said. “It definitely keeps me in line. I hold myself accountable by making my schedule. 

“I’m a big list person as well. That’s something that (Coach) Taber can even talk about whenever we have little meetings, I come in, I have my list and he’s like, ‘All right, what’s on the list? Let’s just get to it.’ That’s just kind of how I roll because I love crossing things off and just working off my list and using my planner and that’s something that I did do in high school,” Wesolek said. “I would say when I got to the college level, it was definitely an adjustment itself with a different class schedule. That’s different than what high school was but also just unique training schedules as well. That was definitely new and I had to learn how to navigate my time and how I manage that.”

Taber was thrilled to see Wesolek chosen as one of two Be Strong. Be True. Athletes of the Year. Football’s Dan Romano was the male recipient.

“For me, it’s funny to hear Delaney say how shocked she was. I wasn’t,” Taber said. “The experience that, we and our coaching staff have had working with her every day for the last three years is that she embodies what it means a Christian student-athlete. She’s involved in her community. She continues to excel at a very high level. 

“She gets it done in the pool, on campus, in the community, and she isn’t just involved in these things. I mean she’s got leadership roles and she has a tremendously high impact in everything that she’s involved with. When you look at what we’re about, from a student-athlete standpoint here at Hope College, I can’t think of a better representative than Delaney.”

Read a written transcript of the interview.

Kevin Wolma: Hope College Athletics Podcast

The Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast has returned this summer for a third season with a special series of interviews with Hope College student-athletes, administration and staff. 

Kevin Wolma poses for a portrait outside of DeVos Fieldhouse.
Kevin Wolma

For the season’s third episode, sports information director Alan Babbitt sits down with Kevin Wolma, Hope College’s Assistant Athletic Director for Student Wellness and Compliance.

In this new role, Wolma will be advocating for and leading programs which will benefit the comprehensive wellness of Hope College student-athletes, while also supporting coaches and staff in their efforts to have a transformational impact. 

“The wellness piece is a little bit new as far as a titled position,” Wolma said. “We do a lot of great things for student-athletes here at Hope College. The role is about tying a lot of that into one space and having somebody that will be working with different partnerships on campus and with our coaching staff to ensure that student-athlete experience for them, to provide the resources that they need, whether it’s social, emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical wellness.

“We’ve got a lot of pieces already on campus. It is just exciting to tie into that and create this mental health experience, an overall wellness experience, for them that will be transformational for the student-athletes when they leave Hope.”

A Career in Education and Wellness

Prior to joining Hope Athletics, Wolma worked for two years as Associate Director of Admissions at Hope and for 25 years in education as a teacher, a coach and an administrator.

Wolma served as athletic director for Hudsonville Public Schools for 10 years from 2011 to 2021. He taught secondary health and physical education at Hudsonville from 1997 through 2011. 

He also coached three varsity sports at Hudsonville: girls golf from 2009 to 2011, boys basketball from 2000 to 2006, and girls tennis from 1997 to 2002. He also coached varsity boys basketball at Caledonia from 1997 to 2000. 

Wolma started his career in education at Roscommon, where he taught secondary science for one year.

While new to athletics administration in college, Wolma is well-versed in what Hope has to offer. He and his wife, Gina, have three children who attend Hope. Jordan and Kayla, twin brother and sister, will be seniors at Hope this fall, while Kelsey will be a freshman.

Read a written transcript of the interview.