Clayton Dykhouse and Evan Thomas quickly became friends when they became teammates on the Hope College men’s basketball team as freshmen.
Three years later, they’re leading the Flying Dutchmen’s pursuit of an MIAA Tournament title and an NCAA Division III Tournament berth.
Hope hosts Calvin University on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. in the MIAA Tournament champion game at DeVos Fieldhouse. Dykhouse and Thomas — both All-MIAA First Team selections, with Thomas as league MVP — have teamed up into a powerful force on the court.
While a significant part of their lives, their journeys at Hope is not defined solely by basketball. Dykhouse is an elementary education major with aspirations of becoming a teacher. Thomas is a biology major with goals of attending medical school.
Earlier this month, both sat down with Sports Information Director Alan Babbitt in the latest episode of the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast. Since the conversation, the Flying Dutchmen won the MIAA’s regular-season title and earned the No. 1 seed for the MIAA Tournament. During the February 25 semifinal win vs. Albion, Thomas became the 43rd Flying Dutchmen to score 1,000 career points.
Inspiring Conversations and Change
Now roommates as well as team co-captains with senior Tyler George, Dykhouse and Thomas talked about their friendship, what makes their basketball team special on and off the court, what they have learned about leadership, and their unique perspectives as Americans. Dykhouse is African-American; Thomas is biracial.
Both are involved in leadership within Hope’s Athletes Coming Together-Student Athlete Advisory Council (ACT-SAAC). They participate in ACT-SAAC’s Diversity and Inclusion committee.
“The group as a whole is just bringing leaders, athletes, from all different sports together to have a group that can talk to higher up faculty about what athletes need, what students need kind of in community,” Thomas said. “What Clay and I are doing in the diversity and inclusion kind of efforts are just to create a conversation within athletes about diversity, inclusion, how Hope can be more acceptable, more inclusive to all different kinds of people, no matter where they come from. It’s been a lot of fun so far, creating conversations. We’ve had great speakers come in and talk to us and just learning and are startings conversations to learn more about what diversity and inclusion really means.”
A recent interaction with two young fans at DeVos Fieldhouse reminded Dykhouse how vital diversity and inclusion is at Hope and society.
“I’ve spent my entire life with white parents in a predominantly white community. I think they did a great job of exposing me of me and my brother to just what it means to be black in America at a really young age,” Dykhouse said. “I know a couple of home games ago there was a family that I had gotten to know the dad a little bit, and he has two adopted sons. After the game, they were talking to me. They were talking about Evan, me, and T.J. (McKenzie), and how cool it was to see someone in a position at Hope that looks like them. They’re fourth and second grade boys recognizing that.”