Senior Day Tributes: Men’s Basketball

On Saturday, February 20, the Hope College men’s basketball team will pay tribute to its graduating seniors. Since fans are not allowed at the event to recognize these student-athletes’ careers, head coach Greg Mitchell honors these seniors in his own words below.

Danny Beckman

Danny Beckman — Hometown: Shelby, Michigan (Shelby HS); Majors — Business and Religion

Danny Beckman is a relentless, blue-collar player who will never be out-hustled on the court! The pride that he possesses in the work that goes into being a college basketball player is top-notch! Danny battled some significant injuries during his career that he just used as another opponent to overcome. He has been one who sets the standard when it comes to putting time into his game. The disciplined, humble approach that he brings to the court and to our team will be noticeably missed next year. I’m proud of his resilience and overall growth that he has experienced a player and leader!

Ryan Gamm

Ryan Gamm — Hometown: Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS); Major: Business

Ryan Gamm can only be described as the ideal teammate! I’ve never coached a player who is as team-first committed as he is. He takes that philosophy to the court with him in the way he embraces doing the little things that make a team tick. His ability to rebound the ball and his defensive awareness are as good as any player that I have coached. He is another player who has dealt with adversity each year regarding injuries that he sustained. However, his genuine love for the game and his team drove him to persistently fight his way back. He has impacted our team in countless ways and is a key reason for the success that we have had.

Preston Granger — Hometown: Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian HS); Major: Business

Preston Granger earned his way into the starting line-up midway through his freshman year with a tremendous work ethic and ability to compete with toughness and enthusiasm. That accurately describes his approach to his entire career at Hope. His dedication to put in the time both in the gym and the weight room helped him become a 1st Team All-MIAA player and a member of the exclusive 1,000 point club. Preston’s competitive drive helped him become a force in the MIAA….his greatest attribute, however, is his love for Hope Basketball and his teammates.

Cal Hackert

Cal Hackert — Hometown: Ludington, Michigan (Ludington HS); Major: Physical Education

Cal Hackert has been a steady performer on the court who plays with a high basketball IQ. His versatility allowed us to play him at the point and at the shooting guard where he has had significant success. Cal has impacted Hope Basketball with his continuing ability to battle through the challenges that the game presents, especially injuries. His determination and grit helped him earn his way back on the court numerous times throughout his career. His intelligent, team-first approach is something that will be missed.

Jake Honer

Jake Honer — Hometown: Angola, Indiana (Angola HS); Major: Mechanical Engineering

Jake Honer has been one of the hardest workers to ever wear the orange and blue! His workmanlike approach to the game and willingness to do whatever it takes to help us succeed has been remarkable. We missed that infectious toughness last year when an ACL injury ended his season, but Jake battled back to get on the court once again this year, inspiring all of us with his resilience and commitment to play alongside his teammates. We will miss his positive attitude and his ‘leave it all on the floor’ mentality!

Sam Vree — Hometown: Lansing, Illinois (Illiana Christian HS); Major: Business and Exercise Science

Sam Vree has had a huge impact on our team the last four years. Along with his big physical presence, Sam’s knowledge and understanding of the game has been incredibly impactful. He is one who makes everyone around him better because he studies the game and communicates so well! His vast improvement over the course of his career is due to his incredible dedication to off-season work that he put in! In addition, he has assumed a leadership role that has been very effective especially with all of the adversity and uncertainty that this season has brought. He is a stabilizing force both on and off the floor. As coaches, we love to see players grow their game and Sam has done just that during his four years at Hope!

Women’s Lacrosse Coach Keagan Pontious: Hope Athletics Podcast

For years, Keagan Pontious picked up a lacrosse stick and instinctively knew exactly what to do — at an elite level, too.

Now, as coach of the Hope College women’s lacrosse team, the former NCAA Division II All-American is embracing the new challenge of sharing her wisdom with her student-athletes.

Women's lacrosse coach Keagan Pontious poses for a portrait.
Keagan Pontious, head women’s lacrosse coach and equipment manager.

“That’s been the hardest part actually,” Pontious said on the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast. “The reason is that the stuff that came naturally to me — I am left-handed and took the draw in college —  has been harder for me to coach. It took me a long time to figure out how to teach (the women) how to take a draw properly. 

“I loved studying (lacrosse) as a player, where it could be one little thing that makes the difference. The great thing now as a coach is I watch (the team) and it might be changing one piece of their games that allows them to open a whole different level of play.”

Lacrosse Optimism

Pontious is in her second season leading the Flying Dutch. Their first game is scheduled for Tuesday, February 24 against Calvin University at 4 p.m. at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.

Her first season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hope played four matches, winning the final two — before the remainder of the season was canceled.

The Flying Dutch enter this season as the preseason favorite in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Hope topped a close MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll with 42 points and two first-place votes.

On the Orange and Blue Podcast, Pontious discusses how she has managed the pandemic with her team and how they remained focused on finding blessings amid all the challenges they face.

Pontious is not far removed from her playing days. Two years ago, she scored 58 goals en route to helping Seton Hill (Pennsylvania) advance to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time. She was selected to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association’s All-America Third Team.

Pontious earned both her master’s of business administration and her bachelor’s of business administration degrees at Seton Hill. In addition to coaching, Pontious serves all of Hope’s student-athletes as the college’s equipment manager, a role she started in December.

Senior Day Tributes: Men’s and Women’s Swim/Dive

At their last home meet on Saturday, February 13, the Hope College men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will pay tribute to their graduating seniors. Since parents and fans are not allowed at the event to recognize the swimmers’ careers, head coach Jake Taber honors these seniors in his own words below.


Zack Theis

Zack Theis — Hometown: St. Johns, Michigan (Saint Johns HS); Major: Business

“Zack has been a great addition to this year’s team. Not many people begin diving as a senior in college with no prior experience, but Zack has been up for the challenge and has both fully embraced the sport and the team. He’s been a consistent reminder that hard work and commitment are values that earn resect and create opportunity. We wish he would have joined sooner but have been grateful for this season and his decision to be a part of this.”

Mackenzie Ralston

Mackenzie Ralston — Hometown: Norton Shores, Michigan (Mona Shores HS); Major: Exercise Science

“Mackenzie is one of those key components that is so important for every team and program. She has the confidence, awareness and experience to ask the right questions and help direct in the right way. She is consistent in her approach and in her work and those things have led to very nice drops when it matters the most in the pool. More importantly it’s those qualities that will serve her well in PT school next fall and throughout life.”

Hope Reynolds

Hope Reynolds — Hometown: Exton, Pennsylvania (Villa Maria Academy); Major: Exercise Science

“It’s been a different year without Hope on campus with us day in and day out. (Read “Hope Keeps the Faith”) Hope would always embrace the workout and never back down from a practice. She has drive and loves to work at everything she does. Her intensity and drive are one thing but her sincerity and genuine care for others are one of the things that sets her apart. We are very excited for her and the next chapter at Duke University in the fall.”

*Senior Emma Schaefer will be returning for a fifth year and using the NCAA’s Blanket Waiver to compete next year and will be acknowledged at that time.

Tennis Coach Bob Cawood: Hope Athletics Podcast

Bob Cawood ’13 relishes the repetitive sound of a tennis ball being launched into play and then returned. He’s missing hearing it in a competitive setting at Hope College.

Cawood is optimistic that will change this weekend when his Hope College men’s and women’s tennis teams are scheduled to begin the 2021 season with a pair of home matches. It has been nearly a year since either the Flying Dutchmen or the Flying Dutch had matches because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cawood’s fourth season as head coach at his alma mater has been a unique one with a delayed start and modified training routines. He talks about this season’s preparations on the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast.

Bob Cawood smiles on the tennis court.
Head men’s and women’s tennis coach Bob Cawood

A long wait ends for both Hope teams on Friday, February 12 with a 5 p.m. match against Cornerstone University at DeWitt Tennis Center. The Flying Dutchmen and Flying Dutch follow on Saturday, February 13 with a 3 p.m. match against Davenport University.

“We have continually stressed, even at practice in the fall, what a privilege it is to play this sport,” Cawood said. “Thankfully, our sport is probably one of the more socially distant sports, and so it honestly has not changed a whole lot in terms of the way I coach. The only difference is the way that we have cleaned up and the way that we have to pick up the balls. I try to limit the number of balls that we use in a practice as well.

“Where there used to be high fives, now it’s racquet taps. We have a physical touch that still is socially distant.”

Giving Back to the Game

Despite the challenges, Cawood has been determined to continue to give back to the game, one he holds dear, through his work as head coach at Hope as well as a tennis pro for the DeWitt Tennis Center.

During his collegiate playing days at Hope, Cawood’s 104 combined wins in singles and doubles play rank him third among Flying Dutchmen players. He also was the 2012 recipient of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Allen B. Stowe Sportsmanship Award.

Since he had one season of NCAA eligibility left after graduating from Hope, Cawood also played NCAA Division I tennis at the University of Detroit Mercy while taking graduate school classes. At UDM, he was named team captain and team MVP for the Titans.

Now as a coach, Cawood aims to be the kind of role model he’s had during his playing and coaching career.

“This is my way of giving back, I always say, because I definitely appreciated my coach here at Hope, Steve Gorno. He’s a role model still for me. He’s been a mentor. He’s an amazing human being. He taught me a lot of things that I have not been able to read in a textbook. For me to be able to have a philosophy from him, a philosophy from playing D-I for a year, having (assistant coach) Nate Price, having all these different people in my life to be able to put me in this moment, it’s my opportunity to give back to these young men.

“I cannot stress how much I appreciated my coach here who shaped me to be the person I am, helped with that. That’s exactly what my hope is to be able to do for the players on the men’s and women’s teams.”

Written transcript of Bob Cawood interview

Winter Student-Athletes Discuss Leadership and Gratitude, Part 2

Six Hope College winter student-athletes shared their insights into a school year and a season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They talked about how they have tried to display leadership and show gratitude during trying times.

In Part 1, the team captains answered the following question regarding leadership: “How have you helped lead your team this school year amid the pandemic that has required so many changes to the way you do things?”

In Part 2, the team captains answered the following question regarding gratitude: “What is something positive you have experienced this school year that you might not have during a “traditional” season?”

Bailey Smith, Men’s Swimming and Diving

Bailey Smith poses for a portrait.
Bailey Smith

“This season has made me so much more grateful and thankful to have the opportunity to even be in the pool at all and to be able to train with everyone. In a normal year, I would definitely take some practices for granted and not want to be there sometimes but after getting the pool taken away from me for so long, I have a completely different mindset.”

Emma Schaefer, Women’s Swimming and Diving

Emma Schaefer poses for a portrait.
Emma Schaefer

“Traditionally, our season is very long and as we head into the winter months, people tend to struggle more with the demands of practice and all the time required. This year, everyone has seen what it is like to not be training together and not be competing which has made our time together as a team that much more special. The uncertainty definitely has made people have a greater appreciation when we are able to compete and be together which has made for some very memorable practices and allowed us to really cherish our time together.”

Noah Russo, Men’s Indoor Track and Field

Noah Russo poses for a portrait.
Noah Russo

“It was fun to get creative on how we get through workouts when the facilities were closed. Basically, anything tangible became a dumbbell early in the fall, and our workouts definitely changed from those of a traditional season.”

Lauren Newman, Women’s Basketball

Lauren Newman poses for a portrait.
Lauren Newman

“Something positive that I have experienced this school year is the unity that has occurred in our program. When this pandemic began, no one knew or could relate to the pain and uncertainty we all felt. So having 17 to 18 women who are going through the same thing, who understand it has been a blessing and has truly brought us closer together is special. I am grateful for the relationships I’ve gained and those I’ve strengthened, thanks to this ‘not so traditional’ year.”

Ellie Haan, Women’s Indoor Track and Field

Ellie Haan poses for a portrait.
Ellie Haan

“I think one of the most positive things I have seen this semester is the drive that many of my teammates have shown to get better even though we had no idea if we would even get to compete when indoor season rolled around. Yet, people still showed up for practice and put in the hard work to get faster and stronger. It can be hard to show up for workouts every day not knowing if we would even get a season, but it was great seeing people show up anyway. I know I am biased, but the people on the track team are really amazing people. It really is one big family. It has been a joy watching older teammates build bonds with new members of the team. Despite the stresses of COVID and all the uncertainty it brings, we were still able to practice and spend time laughing with one another and pushing each other to get better, and that’s a huge blessing.”

Preston Granger, Men’s Basketball

Preston Granger poses for a portrait.
Preston Granger

“I never imagined having this much free time during the season. It’s taught me to value self-discipline and to be intentional with my time. It has shown me what I really value because there is no excuse for not having the time to do things I’ve committed to. This pandemic has also taught us to value every second we get together on the court because we never know when it could be our last.”

Winter Student-Athletes Discuss Leadership and Gratitude, Part 1

Six Hope College winter student-athletes shared their insights into a school year and a season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They talked about how they have tried to display leadership and show gratitude during trying times.

In Part 1, the team captains answered the following question regarding leadership: “How have you helped lead your team this school year amid the pandemic that has required so many changes to the way you do things?” 

In Part 2, the team captains answered the following question regarding gratitude: “What is something positive you have experienced this school year that you might not have during a “traditional” season?”

Preston Granger, Men’s Basketball

Preston Granger

“We as a team have adopted a ‘next play’ mindset, which has been really important with the unpredictability of the year. I’ve done my best to just be there for my guys, whether that be to talk, hang out, or work out together. I’ve focused on building relationships that are more personal than just a bond over basketball.”

Ellie Haan, Women’s Indoor Track and Field

Ellie Haan

“As in many things, the pandemic has made it hard to make connections with our teammates outside of practice. Normally we would eat dinner together in Phelps after practices and have team hangouts, but with safety restrictions, that simply has not been possible. This had made building relationships with teammates, especially those new to the team this year, harder. My fellow captain, Hayley Scollard, and I knew that this would be a difficult year, and so we decided to start a Bible study with the help of one of the Campus Ministries chaplains. We wanted to provide the women with the opportunity to gather safely, but regularly. We wanted to create a space where the girls felt like they could be real about how they were feeling and that they had people that heard them and supported them no matter how they felt. Honestly, these weekly meetings were just as much of an encouragement for me as they were, hopefully, for the other women. I felt like finding ways to connect and support my girls were some of the most important things I could do for them this past semester, and I felt like our weekly Bible study was a good way to do that.”

Lauren Newman, Women’s Basketball

Lauren Newman

“One of the ways in which I’ve led my team during the pandemic is by being a senior and putting on a brave face. It’s very scary for me to think I’d never get to play again, but by putting on a brave face amongst those thoughts, I think reinforces the idea of not looking back and being strong to my teammates. Also staying in touch via Zoom or text, checking in with how they are doing — not just about how their jump shot is. Just making myself available to be there for others, even when as a senior, I’m navigating all this too.”

Noah Russo, Men’s Track and Field

Noah Russo

“In terms of leadership this semester, we’ve all had to change our approaches. In the past, I’ve always preferred to lead by example. Now since we don’t get to meet face-to-face nearly as much, it has been important to remain accessible to younger teammates and update them on what needs to be done on a daily basis.”

Emma Schaefer, Women’s Swimming and Diving

Emma Schaefer

“Something that we have tried really hard to do this year is make sure that we are consistently reaching out to all of our fellow teammates. Whether that be in small groups, or through a text or a quick conversation after practice since we are not able to be together as much as we have been in the past. Another thing is helping to try and motivate people to keep training and to know that the hard work will pay off in the end. We had a couple months shutdown where we were not able to train as a team, and helping people to know and realize the importance of still doing what they could and that the effort they put forth while we are not together will have huge benefits to them and the team later in the season has been really important.”

Bailey Smith, Men’s Swimming and Diving

Bailey Smith

“It has been very different trying to lead the team this year with the restrictions amid the pandemic. Something I, along with the other captains, have tried to do is to come up with some sort of small group events while staying within the rules that we have. Getting together outside of the pool and before the season is so important in my opinion to try and build chemistry and friendships so whether it be ultimate frisbee or euchre, we have tried to have different groups of people be together safely in order to continue to feel more like a team in these tough times.”

One Team, One Hope

Dear Hope Athletics Community,

As we get ready to start spring semester, we are excited about the opportunities it brings for our student-athletes and coaches. Last week, we experienced the highs and lows in athletics as we continue to navigate living in a pandemic with little to no control over the virus and the situations it creates.   

We were excited as our women’s basketball team, our track and field teams, and our swimming and diving teams competed in their first contests of the 2020-21 school year. While we celebrated that, we dealt with the blow of having to pause activities for our men’s basketball program due to COVID-19 protocols. This will be the reality of athletics during this semester. We will need to be flexible and adaptable to any and all situations.  

With the start of the new semester, we want to remind you of our goals for the Hope community. First and foremost, we want to protect the health and safety of our students and staff. Second, we are working toward keeping the Hope student body on campus for the full semester. Third and finally, we want to compete as much as possible. We will use these goals to guide us in each and every decision we make this semester in athletics.  

We know that this is not what any of us had hoped for but we are confident that we can still provide transformational experiences for our student-athletes at Hope. I ask you to pray for our community and our country. We are grateful for you, our fans and supporters,  and hope that you continue to find peace in knowing that our Savior, Jesus Christ is on the throne and holds each of us in all situations.  

Go Hope!!

Tim Schoonveld, Director of Athletics

Football Coach Peter Stuursma and Senior Joey Stark: Hope Athletics Podcast:

Hope College football coach Peter Stuursma and senior quarterback Joey Stark discuss on the Orange and Blue Hope Athletics Podcast this week’s decision that the program will focus on preparing for the Fall 2021 season and will not participate in MIAA league play this spring.

Exterior view of Ray and Sue Smith Football Stadium from visiting sideline.
Ray and Sue Smith Stadium

The Flying Dutchmen instead will follow a phased-in offseason training program this spring that includes strength and conditioning work, four to five weeks of practice, and the potential for scrimmages.

The Flying Dutchmen will kick off the 2021 fall season on Saturday, Sept. 4. Hope hosts Anderson University at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium.

2021 fall schedule

Focusing on the Fall 2021 season, Stuursma said, is driven by having in mind the best interests of Hope’s football student-athletes, the program, and the institution of Hope.

College announcement of the football decision

Track and Field Coach Kevin Cole: Hope Athletics Podcast:

Track and field head coach Kevin Cole ‘88 enjoyed the opportunity to see a small group of his Hope College student-athletes compete indoors last weekend.

In the first athletic event of the school year, 25 from Cole’s men’s and women’s teams went to Grand Valley State University for a three-time meet on Saturday, January 16. It was a different setting for sure — a limited number of Hope entries, no spectators, and just two other teams in the field. Yet, it was thrilling, too.

On the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast, Cole talks about appreciating the opportunity to have a meet again after 10 months out and how he has tried to support and lead his student-athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head men’s and women’s track and field coach Kevin Cole

“It was a lot of fun, hectic for sure because we came back to practice the day before and then had a meet,” Cole said. “It was just really good to get back and everybody was just really happy to be competing. It was low key; there were only three teams there. We only had 25 athletes out of our 100 or so total athletes. It was still just great to get competing again.”

The meet was the first for track and field since the MIAA Indoor Track and Championships on February 29, 2020. Senior Anna Frazee and freshman Ana Tucker were warming up for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships a week later when the NCAA canceled the meet due to the pandemic. The outdoor track and field season and NCAA Championships were canceled shortly later.

Gratitude and Patience

Amidst the challenging times, Cole has been inspired by how his student-athletes have handled everything that’s been thrown at them the last 10 months. They have shown gratitude and patience throughout.

“I just have found them to be just super accepting and pretty laid back about it. it’s like, ‘Oh, this is what it is. This is what the normal is, that’s what we do,’” Cole said. “I think they’re adapting really well to that. They’re really grounded young adults that realize that no matter how bad it is, they’ve still got it really good, so they keep a positive attitude on things. They’ve been great about it.”

This is Cole’s 16th season as head coach. On the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast, Cole also discusses his Hope journey and what it’s meant to and offered him as a student-athlete, professor and coach.

An accomplished athlete in his own right, Cole is a former four-time, All-MIAA athlete between cross country and track and field. He was a two-time MIAA champion in the 800-meter run.

After graduating from Hope, Cole went on to earn a master’s degree in physical education from Texas Christian University and his Ph.D. in human bioenergetics from Ball State University.

In 2005, Cole returned to his alma mater to become Hope’s head track and field coach. He has led the Flying Dutch to three MIAA outdoor and two indoor team titles as well as the Flying Dutchmen to two MIAA outdoor championships.

Written transcript of Kevin Cole interview

Director of Athletics Tim Schoonveld: Hope Athletics Podcast:

As Hope College approaches the start of a new semester and the tipoff of its first athletic event in 10 months, Director of Athletics Tim Schoonveld ‘96 is busy juggling a multitude of important tasks.

Despite the uncertainty and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s working tirelessly to not only give Hope student-athletes the opportunity to compete again, but also safely.

It’s a labor of love for a beloved place.

Tim Schoonveld poses for a portrait.
DIrector of Athletics Tim Schoonveld

On this episode of the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast, Schoonveld discusses his work for the Flying Dutchmen and Flying Dutch. He talks about what is being done to keep student-athletes safe and healthy with COVID testing three times a week and mask-wearing during competition.

The first athletic event of the school year is scheduled for Saturday, January 16. The men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams are set to compete at a meet at Grand Valley State University. The first home events are set to happen on Wednesday, January 20 with a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader in DeVos Fieldhouse.

Classes at Hope College will begin on Monday, January 25.

“When you’re in the middle of all the COVID-related stuff, it’s pretty trying and tiring,” Schoonveld said. “But when you take a minute and step back, you can definitely see God sent in some gifts in that regard, even though it’s a lot different than probably any of us would have hoped for.”

Abundant Blessings

He finds blessings all over the Hope College campus, ranging from understanding student-athletes “who have done everything we’ve asked” to adaptive coaches shifting “from a mindset of competitive excellence” without competition to “How do I love on and look after my team? How do I care for them?’

Additionally, Schoonveld sees blessings in supportive staff who continue to provide top-notch care in spite of new pandemic-driven needs as well as college leadership eagerly investing in him.

“You love to be a part of this team and I’m just thankful to be a part of it,” Schoonveld said.

Schoonveld’s gratitude for Hope College, which dates back to his days as a student-athlete, also covers his immediate family. 

He and his wife, Lisa Timmer ‘97 Schoonveld, have two children who are student-athletes at the college. Kenedy is a senior on the women’s basketball team and a returning All-American for the Flying Dutch. Eli is a freshman on the men’s basketball team.

“On some levels, Hope was a place of redemption for me. Hope’s a place that’s transformed my wife’s and my life when we were here,” Tim Schoonveld said. “To watch our kids be impacted by their coaches, Colly Carlson, Brian Morehouse and Courtney Kust with Kenedy and, Coach Mitch (Greg Mitchell) and Coach (Chad) Carlson, Ken George and Coach Dav (Tom Davelaar) impacting Eli’s life, it’s just shows me the difference that people can make. 

“I’m completely biased, but the difference that Hope has made, this is a place that’s going to love and care for your kids and I’ve experienced that.”

Read a written transcript of this interview