Winter and Spring Student-Athletes Take Part in Leadership Development Retreat

Earlier this fall, 40 Hope College student-athletes headed off campus to Camp Geneva on the shores of Lake Michigan to participate in a Leadership Development Retreat.

Winter and spring sport athletes engaged in conversations surrounding the attributes of servant leaders and had the opportunity to hear from a variety of coaches and staff members. During the 24 hours, the group was together, athletes were inspired and equipped to grow in their leadership with their teams.

This retreat was the fifth conducted in partnership between Hope Athletics and the Hope College Center for Leadership (CFL). Click here to learn more about the Leadership Development Program at Hope College.  Hope Athletics will continue to partner with CFL in February 2022 when fall sport athletes will have the opportunity to attend a Leadership Development Retreat.

Four student-athletes share what they gained from the experience.

Haley Bennett, Softball

Haley Bennett poses for a portrait.
Haley Bennett

“This retreat gave me a special opportunity to not only learn about servant leadership but to be surrounded by other athletes whose coaches believe they have strong potential to be a good leader on their team. I get the chance to take back what I learned to my team and hopefully watch it change Hope Softball for the better and maybe even inspire others to lead well too.”

Clayton Dykhouse, Men’s Basketball

Clayton Dykhouse dribbles up the court at DeVos Fieldhouse.
Clayton Dykhouse

“The most valuable part of the retreat for me was connecting with other student-athletes on different teams. The different perspectives and goals shared were awesome to hear. I was inspired to lead through the different speakers, coaches, and being surrounded by other like-minded athletes. This was a really really powerful opportunity and something that I am very blessed to have experienced! 

Libby Strotman, Women’s Track & Field

Libby Strotman throws the javelin.
Libby Strotman

“The most valuable part of the retreat for me was getting to talk to and meet student-athletes from different sports that are sophomores like me. I joined track and field partway into second semester of my freshman year and, having never been on an individualized team sport, it was a lot different than what I knew. During the retreat, I was in a group with two swimmers and it was nice to talk to them about how to support teammates. 

This retreat inspired me to lead by example and to be there for my teammates. In one of the talks, we heard about being a ‘5-minute friend’ and this really spoke to me. I will use this as a leader by being there and showing my teammates that they can depend on me to be there when they need me, in 5 minutes or less.”

Ben Catton, Men’s Swimming

Ben Catton poses for a portrait.
Ben Catton

“The most valuable part of this trip for me was getting to hear from all of these coaches who have a crazy amount of intelligence and experience when it comes to leadership. I’m a person who loves to learn from those around me and will use those resources to the fullest capabilities.

What I am most excited to bring back to my team is the new understanding of the different kinds of leaders. Every single person has a specific strength and weakness when it comes to leadership, I’m very excited to take that new understanding and apply it to my team.”

Hope College student-athletes work on an activity together during their Leadership Development Retreat.

Title IX at 50: Women’s Soccer Coach Leigh Sears

Editor’s Note: On June 23, 1972, a federal civil rights law was passed that prohibited sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding. Title IX also gave girls and women the equal opportunity to compete in sports across the country.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX’s passing next summer, Hope College Athletics will share the memories and perspectives from Hope College student-athletes, coaches, and alumnae on the 9th of each month during the school year. In our second installment, Hope College women’s soccer student-athletes pay tribute to head coach Leigh Sears, a cancer survivor.

Cancer Survivor

“When I think of Leigh, I see a strong, resilient, and beautiful woman who overcame one of the toughest things anyone could go through. Through her battle with cancer, she continued to put others before herself and pour into our team. She is a continuous inspiration to me, as she fought tirelessly and came out the other side healthy!” — Senior Hannah Mitroff


“I can sincerely say that Leigh is one of the best coaches that I have ever had. She not only pushes you to be the best player on the field but also pushes you to be best that you can be in life. Her compassion and kindness extends to every single person on the team regardless of their role and her dedication and love for Hope women’s soccer is truly one of the main reasons our program is strong as it is.” — Sophomore Jenna Mustapha


“Leigh is a lot of things, an educator being one of them. Education and learning are really important to her. I’ve taken a class with her and it’s fun to see her in that setting and see how she cares for students as well as her athletes. She always tells us school comes first. If we have a class conflict we go to class before going to practice. I think that she prepares us well on the emphasis of how important education is and I am beyond thankful for that.” — Junior Cassidy Broekhuizen  

Role Model

“Leigh is an incredible role model because she has this innate ability to empower everyone around her. She is everything you want in a role model – she’s kind but stern when she needs to be, incredibly strong and courageous throughout every struggle she encounters, and she’s intentional in making the people around her feel loved, cared for, and seen. I am so lucky to have had these last four years to look up to her.” — Senior Sarah Mikesell

Title IX at 50: Hope Volleyball Coach Becky Schmidt ’99

Editor’s Note: On June 23, 1972, a federal civil rights law was passed that prohibited sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding. Title IX also gave girls and women the equal opportunity to compete in sports across the country.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX’s passing next summer, Hope College Athletics will share the memories and perspectives from Hope College student-athletes, coaches, and alumnae on the 9th of each month during the school year. In our first installment, we hear from Hope College Volleyball head coach Becky Schmidt ’99. The Flying Dutch’s first volleyball All-American also received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship as a student-athlete. In 2014, Schmidt guided her alma mater to its first national title in NCAA Division III volleyball.

Becky Schmidt poses for a portrait.
Becky Schmidt

In 1988, I was in the eighth grade and saw a sign posted in the school hallway announcing tryouts for the school’s soccer team.  At the time, I loved soccer and eagerly awaited the tryout opportunity.  As I arrived in the gym after school for tryouts, I waited in line with all of the other kids trying out for the team. 

I was the only girl in the line.  Apparently, it hadn’t occurred to the administration to designate the tryouts as being for the boys team.  I hung around for a little while but after dealing with some taunting and mocking from the boys in line I decided it wasn’t worth it.  I walked the hallways of the school and cried.  A principal at the school saw me and asked what was wrong. I managed to muster an explanation through my tears of disappointment.

What does Title IX mean to me?  It means opportunity — the chance to compete in a sport that has given me some of my best friends and taught me countless lessons about perseverance, toughness, teamwork, and leadership.  It means knowing that my teammates and I matter — that our passion and interests were as worthy as anyone else’s.  It means appreciating the courage and drive that so many women before Title IX showed as they pursued their dreams despite inequitable challenges.  It means helping to make sure that today’s female student-athletes never take for granted the amazing opportunities they have in front of them. 

Head coach Becky Schmidt talks to her team during a timeout.
Head coach Becky Schmidt talks to her team during a timeout.

I like to think that if I’d been born 20 years earlier, I would have been one of those pioneering women who fought against the inequities experienced by so many female student-athletes (or women who wanted to join science clubs as Title IX protects access to all educational opportunities). 

The year after I ran away from that soccer tryout our school started a girls soccer team.  It wasn’t because I started a campaign or led any protests.  It wasn’t because my parents complained until more opportunities for girls were available at the school.  That middle school added a girls soccer team the next year because the process of developing Title IX and enforcing it had changed the lens through which our school administrators saw educational opportunities for girls — and when there was an unmet need they felt compelled to act.  It didn’t take the threat of a lawsuit, but there is not a doubt in my mind that it was the law that helped change the way women’s sports were valued.  

In 2014, we took the Hope Volleyball team to compete in a tournament in Washington DC.  We were able to spend a morning touring the National Archives and one of the documents we came across was the original draft of Title IX. 

When I saw it, my mind took me right back to that hallway in middle school and my eyes filled with tears.  But this time it was also accompanied by a smile reflecting how thankful I am for how far we have come.

Senior Day Tribute: Baseball

On Friday, May 7 at 2 p.m. at Boeve Stadium, the Hope College baseball team will pay tribute to its eight graduating seniors. Since few fans are allowed at the event to recognize these student-athletes’ careers, head coach Stu Fritz honors them here.

Cal Barrett

Cal Barrett — Hometown: Chelsea, Michigan (Chelsea HS); Major: Mechanical Engineering

“Cal is our starting catcher as a senior. He waited his turn to be behind the plate and was our DH as a junior. Cal has hit in the middle of our line-up and is a very good defensive catcher. He has a great ability to receive the baseball and a very good working relationship with our pitching staff. Cal is also involved with the Formula Race team as an engineering student.”

Evan Becker

Evan Becker — Hometown: Rochester, Michigan (Stoney Creek HS); Major: Business

“Evan is a captain and a go-to guy in our program. He is an incredibly hard worker in the classroom and on the field. He is also one of our fastest players and best athletes. Evan is the glue that holds our team together; he’s a great teammate and a better friend. First class young man all the way around.”

Ted Eppinga — Hometown: Saline, Michigan (Saline HS); Major: Mathematics

“Teddy would have been a three-year starter at first base and a force in the middle of our line-up. He has had a nagging shoulder injury this year and has missed most of the season. He led our team in home runs as a sophomore, and we have missed his presence in our line-up this year.”

Max Gaishin

Max Gaishin — Hometown: Stevensville, Michigan (Stevensville Lakeshore HS); Major: Integrated Science Group Elementary Education

“Max is an outstanding person. He has every quality you want in a son, or your son’s, or daughter’s, teacher. This year he is one of our captains. Max has been a four-year starter on the mound for us and pitched some outstanding games. I am excited to watch Max goes out into the world as an educator.”

Evan Maday — Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood HS); Major: Civil Engineering

“Evan is a four-year starter and a two-year captain. He will go down as one of the best to play at Hope during my tenure. He has been a great leader on and off the field, a very good student and a tenacious competitor. He is a very gifted athlete and excels at a variety of tasks. Evan is our single-season and career stolen-base record holder and currently leads the nation in stolen bases. He’s a first class young man whom I have had the pleasure to coach.”

Kameron Miller

Kameron Miller — Hometown: Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater HS); Major: Business

“Kam has been our #1 pitcher this year. His cornerstone game was a complete shutout shutout against Alma in the league tourney. He has worked tirelessly to get to the top of his game. Kam is a very bright student and has accepted an accounting job after graduation.”

Joey Merucci

Joey Merucci — Hometown: Northville Township, Michigan (Catholic Central HS); Major: Business

“Joey had a very good sophomore season as a first-year starter. He is a very driven and focused young man. He has a high baseball IQ and a level of passion for the game that we don’t see every day. Joey plays a very good third base with his biggest asset being the strength of his arm. He is also a very good leader/coordinator in our program.”

Al Vasquez

Al Vasquez — Hometown: Chelsea, Michigan (Chelsea HS); Major: Environmental Science

“Al has come back from Tommy John surgery and has had a great senior year. He has been our #2 starter. Al came to our program as a transfer and has not had much of an opportunity to compete because of COVID. We have been beyond excited to watch him his senior year. His work ethic is second-to-none.”

Senior Day Tribute: Men’s Track and Field

On Thursday, May 6 with the start of MIAA Field Day at the Alma College, the Hope College men’s track and field team will pay tribute to its 10 graduating seniors. Since the squad did not have a home meet this year to celebrate those seniors, they are honored here by their coaches.

Andrew Althouse

Andrew Althouse — Hometown: Ludington, Michigan (Ludington HS); Major: Business

“As a two-sport student-athlete (he plays football too), Drew has done a nice job balancing the demands of athletics and school in his schedule.  This is the first year on the track and field team, but he’s been absolutely coachable and ready to make any changes needed to improve his technique.  His physical stature may be what you first notice about him, but it’s been his work ethic that has allowed him to keep finding improvements in his personal records.  Drew has been an awesome addition and I’m glad to have had the chance to work with him.” — Assistant Coach Paul Markel

Barry Bait

Barry Bait — Hometown: Granville, Ohio (Granville HS); Major: Biomedical/Biomechanical Engineering

“Barry has been the core of the men’s pole-vaulting squad for 4 years and has steadily improved through hard work and dedication.  He is now among the best vaulters in the conference.  Barry may also be one of the nicest guys to ever put on a Hope uniform.  He is always willing to help out coaches and other athletes and can always be counted on to be a leader.” — Head Coach Kevin Cole

Lukas Bruxvoort

Lukas Bruxvoort — Hometown: Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS); Major: Biology

“Lukas is a very talented athlete who has been able to out-jump almost everyone on the team since his freshman season.  His quiet intensity belies his underlying desire to be the best.  He steadily improved each year and was poised to have a great senior year with some impressive early jumps.  Unfortunately, his season was ended prematurely by an injury but he was a very important part of our jumps squad for 4 years and we will miss him next year.” — Head Coach Kevin Cole

Jacob Kelley

Jacob Kelley — Hometown: Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS); Major: Religion – Christian History and Theology

“Jacob has really developed these past four years as a runner and a leader on the team.  He was willing to try a new event (steeplechase) and has become one of the top performers in the conference.  Hopefully he remains open to trying new things.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Jared Lowe

Jared Lowe — Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio (Wyoming HS); Major: Business

“Jared has been one of the best high jumpers in the conference since his freshman year and has also been successful in the triple jump.  Jared keeps himself very busy but still has time to be a great athlete and an excellent team-mate.  It is always fun to be around Jared and he is always willing to help out his fellow athletes.  We will miss having his laid-back, fun attitude on the jumps squad.” — Head Coach Kevin Cole

Zackary Murphy

Zackary Murphy — Hometown: Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater HS); Major: Exercise Science

Zack is a strong leader and motivator. He gives everything he has in races and helps to bring the best out of his teammates.  I really appreciate the impact he has had these past four years in the classroom and on the course and track.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Noah Russo

Noah Russo — Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS); Major: Business

“From the first week working with Noah his freshman year, I would’ve bet he would be a team captain by his senior year (he made it by his junior year instead).  He shows leadership by example and by providing support, helping out with our younger throwers wherever possible.  Noah is great at building the type of camaraderie in our group that helps turn the individual events of track and field into a team experience.  Now at the end of his four years, he’s put in countless hours honing his technique and training himself to be faster, stronger, and more fit, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does at the end of the season.” — Assistant Coach Paul Markel

Brett Slayton

Brett Slayton — Hometown: Holland, Michigan (Hamilton HS); Major: Communication

“Consistency and hard work define Brett’s career.  He is a person we can depend on to lead others, give his all, and perform well where we place him.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Chris Stamatopoulos — Hometown: Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton-Warrenville South HS); Major: Biomedical/Biomechanical Engineering

“Chris has been a very successful 400m hurdler for the team and after rehabbing an early injury has also become our best javelin thrower.  He is a very talented individual who sets lofty goals for himself and works hard to attain them.  He is always fun, always outspoken and always looking for ways to get better.  He has evolved into a very good leader on the team and his influence will be missed after he graduates.” — Head Coach Kevin Cole

John Vander Vliet

John Vander Vliet — Hometown: Ada, Michigan (Forest Hills Eastern HS); Majors: Public Accounting and Business

“John has been great to have on the team and enjoys the training aspects of track and field as much as anyone I’ve coached.  He’s always eager to put in extra effort in the weight room and his extra work has shown in his performances this year.  John has high expectations for himself, and with a few meets to go this year, I believe he’ll hit his goals.  Moving forward, as long as he can apply the discipline he’s shown in his training, diet, and preparations for throwing, I know he’ll be successful in whatever he does.” – Assistant Coach Paul Markel

Senior Day Tribute: Women’s Track and Field

On Thursday, May 6 with the start of MIAA Field Day at the Alma College, the Hope College women’s track and field team will pay tribute to its 11 graduating seniors. Since the squad did not have a home meet this year to celebrate those seniors, they are honored by their track and field coaches here.

Hannah Bredewg

Hannah Bredeweg — Hometown: Benton Harbor, Michigan (Stevensville-Lakeshore HS); Major: Nursing

“Hannah has been a mainstay of our jumps group for 4 years.  She’s competed in all of the jumps and has been one of our best jumpers since her first year.  She works hard, has a lot of fun and always has a smile and encouragement for everyone every day.  We will miss her beauty queen wave and her infectious laugh but the world may be safer without her driving the cart.” — Head Coach Kevin Cole

Jacinda Cole

Jacinda Cole — Hometown: Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa HS); Major: English Language Arts K-8 Education

“Jacinda became a strong, confident leader and is leaving a lasting impression on the rest of the team.  Her hard work has led to tremendous improvements all while demonstrating how to effectively balance the strain of academics and athletics and excel at both.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Addy Gerig

Addyson Gerig — Hometown: Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa HS); Major: Integrated Science Group Elementary Education

“Addy has been THE best high jumper in the MIAA every year since her sophomore season and has also been one of the top triple jumpers, long jumpers and hurdlers.  She worked hard in-season and out of season to become visibly stronger and more proficient every year. Her work ethic is infectious, and she has grown into an amazing leader with a wealth of knowledge about her events.” — Head Coach Kevin Cole

Hannah Kenny

Hannah Kenny — Hometown: Grand Haven, Michigan (Grand Haven HS); Majors: Spanish and Social Work-CSWE

“Losing her senior season last spring, Hannah has returned for another year and we are very pleased!  Her maturity at practice and in competition has a calming influence on the younger runners and has helped to motivate them to work hard together to reach their goals.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Mical Knafel

Mical Knafel — Hometown: Marshall, Michigan (Marshall HS); Major: Exercise Science

“Mical has been a terrific senior pick up for the throwers and has had a great attitude from day one.  Though completely new to track and field, she has fit right in with our group and has put in the work at each practice to improve her technique.  She takes a constructive approach toward training, whether a session is going well or not, and pushes herself to get better each day.  Her positivity is contagious at practice and I’m glad she accepted the invitation to join the team.” — Assistant Coach Paul Markel

Claire Muckian

Claire Muckian — Hometown: Saint Charles, Illinois (Saint Charles East HS); Major: Neuroscience

“Claire contributes to the team in so many ways:  leader, encourager, mentor and friend.  Injuries have not slowed her desire to help others improve and we are better because of her dedication to the well-being of others.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Nicole Prihoda

Nicole Prihoda — Hometown: Poretage, Michigan (Portage Central HS); Major: Biology

“Returning from leg surgery, it is exciting to see Nicole running again.  The joy she brings to the team and the example she shows by her dedication is truly an inspiration to the other women.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Lauryn Thompson

Lauryn Thompson – Hometown: Portage, Michigan (Hackett Catholic Prep); Major: Exercise Science

“Lauryn is dedicated to excellence in the classroom and on the course.  Her lasting legacy is that she works very hard and encourages her teammates to do likewise.  She is always ready to help others.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Brooke Truszkowski

Brooke Truszkowski: Hometown: Traverse City, Michigan (Traverse City Central HS); Majors: Business and Communication

“Her investment in the lives of the younger runners is so evident by the support they mutually share for her and their teammates.  She works hard in practice and races to the finish line, encouraging her teammates all the way.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Emily Tyner

Emily Tyner — Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan (Ann Arbor Skyline HS); Major: Exercise Science

“Emily joined the team after transferring to Hope with an incredible desire to be amazing at every event possible.  She pole-vaulted, jumped, ran hurdles, threw and even ran the second fastest time by anyone at Hope in the 2k.  It eventually became evident that her greatest gift was in javelin throwing where she has been among the very best throwers in the MIAA each year.  She has a deep desire to succeed and is not afraid to work hard to get there while infecting others with her boundless energy.” — Head Coach Kevin Cole

Emma Wabel

Emma Wabel — Hometown: Linden, Michigan (Linden HS); Majors: Biology and Philosophy

“Emma specializes in middle distance and is one of the leaders in her training group. She works very hard and has enjoyed solid improvements in her performances. Her encouragement of her teammates at practice and in meets is appreciated by everyone.” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Julia Wilson

Julia Wilson — Hometown: Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Lancaster Mennonite HS); Major: Biology

“Julia was a great surprise to our program last year. She had never competed competitively but quickly learned how to train and race. Her positive attitude and encouraging spirit helped to make her teammates better everyday. I wish we had her for two more years!” — Assistant Coach Mark Northuis

Senior Day Tribute: Women’s Tennis

On Wednesday, May 5 with the start of the MIAA Tournament at the Etheridge Tennis Complex, the Hope College women’s tennis team will pay tribute to its three graduating seniors. Before Bailey Chorney, Brigid DeVries and Leah Newhof wrap up their careers at Hope, head coach Bob Cawood honors these seniors here.

“Thank you seniors for everything you’ve done for this program!” said Cawood. “You’ve made the experience for your teammates and coaches enjoyable. You three have left a lasting impression for future years.”

Bailey Chorney

Bailey Chorney — Hometown: Waunakee, Wisconsin (Waunakee HS); Majors: Business and Spanish

“Bailey, along Brigid, are the first players I have coached for all four years. We’ve shared and created so many memories together. One of my all-time favorite coaching moments actually came in a loss against Kenyon College during Bailey’s sophomore year. She battled at the No. 5 singles spot against a very good player and still is one of the best singles matches I’ve seen her play. We almost took down a top-15 team during nationals. My hope is that we are playing our best tennis at the end of the year and that is exactly what Bailey did that day. I was so incredibly proud of Bailey’s fight and play! She has been an absolute joy to coach and this program is better because of her. Bailey’s match record over four years: Doubles: 49-28; Singles: 33-27”

Brigid DeVries

Brigid DeVries — Hometown: Bradenburg, Kentucky (Meade County HS); Major: Business

“B’s has been a tremendous part of this team for four years. She comes to practice with a positive attitude, works hard, has been an amazing teammate and has done all this with a grace about her that has made it extremely enjoyable to be around. B’s match record over four years: Doubles: 3-2; Singles: 8-4”

Leeah Newhof

Leah Newhof — Hometown: Caledonia, Michigan (Grand Rapids Christian HS); Major: Exercise Science

“It has been an absolute pleasure to coach Leah for the past two years. She transferred to Hope after her sophomore year and since she was my first transfer student-athlete, I didn’t know what to expect. Her charismatic personality helped her make the transition extremely quick and smooth, not only with the team but my relationship with Leah. She will go down as one of the easiest players to coach on court. Her competitive spirit and coach-ability made it extremely enjoyable. I am so happy Leah transferred. She has brought a lot to make this program better. Leah’s match record over two years (parenthesis is previous two years): Doubles: 16-3 (38-15) Singles: 15-6 (42-14)”

Senior Day Tribute: Women’s Golf

On Saturday, May 1 at 1 p.m. at Clearbrook Golf Club in Saugatuck, the Hope College women’s golf team will pay tribute to its two graduating seniors. Before Abigail Meder and Jordyn Rioux wrap up their careers in a friendly match-up event against Calvin University, head coach Greg Stafford honors these seniors here.

Abigail Meder

Abigail Meder — Hometown: Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Catholic Central HS); Majors: Biology and Psychology

“Abby Meder is a great team leader and teammate! Abby leads by example and the entire team looks to her for direction. She is a very good competitor but has even better sportsmanship. She makes everyone around her a better person.”

Jordyn Rioux

Jordyn Rioux — Hometown: Farmington, Michigan (Livonia Ladywood HS); Major: English Language Arts K-8 Education

“Jordyn takes great pride in her role on the team as a co-captain with Abby Meder. She is a very driven competitor, too. Jordyn has the desire to be the best and works very hard at her game. Her skills and leadership will be greatly missed.”

Senior Day Tribute: Softball

On Saturday, May 1 at 1 p.m. at Wolters Stadium, the Hope College softball team will pay tribute to its five graduating seniors. Since few fans are allowed at the event to recognize these student-athletes’ careers, head coach Mary VandeHoef honors these seniors here.

Claire Bates

Claire Bates — Hometown: Midland, Michigan (Bullock Creek HS); Major: Social Work – CSWE

“Claire pursues everything she sets her mind to with excellence and the way she fulfills her role on this team is no different. She cares about her teammates as whole people and is always pushing those on our team to be their best. She packs a lot of punch in her swing and has worked and improved in her four years to be able to help our team offensively.”

Jo Cook

Jo Cook — Hometown: Birch Run, Michigan (Birch Run HS); Major: Nursing

“You want to be on a team with Jo Cook. She brings consistent energy, and through that brings a steadiness this team knows it can rely on. She is a tremendous leader and is someone who always has the team’s best at the forefront of her mind. She is a teammate who cares deeply, brings the fun, and has worked hard at her game to be great on both sides of the ball.”

Saavannah Dixon

Savannah Dixon — Hometown: Niles, Michigan (Edwardsburg HS); Major: Nursing

“Sav wants to win. Every game, every at bat, every play. That competitiveness she has within her has propelled her to play at an incredibly high level her entire career. She makes tough plays in the field look routine and gives everyone around her confidence defensively. She has also been an important piece of the puzzle in the heart of our line-up and has had a significant impact in her career both on the field and at the plate.”

Morgann Kanouse

Morgann Kanouse — Hometown: Cadillac, Michigan (Cadillac HS); Major: Business

“Morgann’s heart for this team is incredibly special. She would do anything to help a teammate out and puts others ahead of herself. She has grown into an outstanding servant-leader and has developed a strong voice within our team. She has been a force behind the plate and leaves it all on the field every time she competes so that our team has the best opportunity to win.”

Megan Soderbloom

Megan Soderbloom — Hometown: Dowagiac, Michigan (Dowagiac HS); Major: Public Accounting

“Megan is an incredibly fierce competitor who wants the ball in her hand and to be up at the plate in the big moments. She is willing to do whatever it takes to help our team succeed. Her intensity and mental toughness propel our team, and her drive to be successful has helped her develop and grow over her career. She has great command on the field and instills confidence in our team through her powerful presence.”

Spring Student-Athletes Discuss Gratitude and Leadership, Part 2

Six Hope College student-athletes share what they have been focusing on during a spring season changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They talk about how they have tried to display leadership and show gratitude during trying times.

In Part 1, they 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?”

Jo Cook, Softball

“No other Hope Softball team has gone through a season like this, which I feel makes us expectational in our own way regardless of what our record shows. I believe the positive of this season is that the team knows how special the time we have together is, and it is not taken for granted.”

Bailey Chorney, Women’s Tennis

“Something positive I have experienced this year is getting to write motivational letters for teammates and receiving them back. This is something we like to do once in a while as a team in order to encourage each other. I get so much joy from both writing and receiving these, and it is something we have been able to keep up with even though it is not a ‘traditional’ season.”

Luke Elder, Men’s Lacrosse

“There is a sense of closeness within our team. This season, more than most, there is a tremendous feeling of togetherness and brotherhood. As much as the pandemic has brought hardship, it’s forced us to hold each other accountable and find unique ways of communicating and being together.”

Paige Rosenbrook, Women’s Lacrosse

“Though this year has been weird, one thing I have appreciated is how it has brought the team together. Since we have to be careful with who we see outside of the team, we have been hanging out more than any other year. After last season being taken away, I think we all have a new level of appreciation for this season and the team. It’s been awesome creating these bonds with each other!”

Evan Becker, Baseball

“Oftentimes being put in smaller groups due to COVID, I have built better relationships with people I otherwise might not have.”

Hayley Scollard, Women’s Outdoor Track and Field

“Something positive I experienced during this school year was giving grace toward everyone, myself included. I used to put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. But the pandemic blew all of that out of the water. It made me realize what’s really important. And now I am just grateful for everyday we have as a team, the health of our bodies, the ability to run, jump, throw and compete. That may sound counter-intuitive since I am a competitive athlete, but I find my impact on Hope will be mostly through the relationships I have formed rather than the races I have won. The most significant positive would definitely be the relationships we have formed and continue to strengthen due to the unique experience we have had as student-athletes during a pandemic.”

Evan Becker, Bailey Chorney, Jo Cook, Luke Elder, Paige Rosenbrook and Hayley Scollard each pose for portrait.