On Thursday, April 1 at 7 p.m. in Van Andel Soccer Stadium, the Hope College women’s soccer team will pay tribute to its seven graduating seniors. Since few fans are allowed at the event to recognize these student-athletes’ careers, head coach Leigh Sears honors these seniors here.
Corinne is the type of player that every team needs. Her ability to look out and care for her teammates has been a gift to our younger players. She not only works hard to be at her best on the field, but she works very hard to be a great teammate.
Dana Dunning — Hometown: Jonesville, Michigan (Jonesville HS); Majors: Business and Communication
Dana’s ability to wear multiple hats in the program has been invaluable. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Dana looks after her teammates and wants everyone to enjoy the ride. Hope women’s soccer is a better place because of Dana.
Jordanne has been a steady presence in goal for the past four years. Her mental toughness allows her to handle the challenges that come with being a goalkeeper. She has been instrumental in the success of the program.
Mekenna’s hard work is something to admire. Taking a unique path to the Hope women’s soccer team, she has made the most of every opportunity. Mekenna has risen to a position of leadership and is someone you can count on to show up everyday and put the work in, and make her team better.
Audrey has been a servant leader from day one. She has gained the respect of her teammates by working hard at every aspect of her life. She has not only made herself into a great student and player but a fantastic teammate and leader.
Baseball has been a central part of Stu Fritz’s life as long as he can remember.
From family vacations to St. Louis Cardinals games growing up in Iowa to 28 seasons as Hope College’s baseball coach, he has loved the game.
Prior to last weekend’s season-opening doubleheader, Fritz joined the Orange and Blue Podcast to discuss his baseball roots and the unique 2021 baseball season for the Flying Dutchmen.
Fritz and his team returned to competition this spring after the 2020 season was canceled after three games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would say that baseball players and coaches, by our nature, have to be resilient with rainouts and makeups, especially playing here in the Great Lakes region. We’re used to having things postponed or canceled, but never quite to that magnitude,” Fritz said. “I will tip my hat to our guys. They handled it extremely well. It was disappointing for our coaching staff to truly have a season taken away.
“If there is a silver lining, it’s that everybody else was in the same boat. We didn’t have anything else we could do, so we took it in stride. We’re ready to get back out and get going.”
Fritz, who started playing baseball as a child in Iowa, is grateful for all of the opportunities the game has given him. He has traveled to Switzerland to take part in coaching clinics. He has served as president of the American Baseball Coaches Association.
And, he’s made a career coaching the sport itself at Hope College — a path that started because of a chance meeting with retired Hope College men’s basketball Glenn Van Wieren at St. Olaf College (Minnesota) 30 years ago.
“I firmly believe that our creator puts us in spots and gives us opportunities,” Fritz said.
When he’s not at the baseball field, Fritz works to mold the educators of tomorrow. He recently became tenured as an associate professor of kinesiology at Hope. As part of his role, he helps assess student physical education teachers.
“I enjoy being out in the field,” Fritz said. “I think it helps me stay current to see our students in a different way: in the classroom versus always on the court, on the track, in the pool, or on the field. It’s something near and dear to my heart.”
Earlier this month, VandeHoef joined the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast to discuss how she and her team managed the past year that’s been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
VandeHoef expressed pride in how everyone on the team — from student-athletes, coaches, and support staff — banded together to assist each other during a trying time.
“In my lifetime I’ve never seen something like that get taken away,” VandeHoef said. “To have it happen when you’re playing is really hard. We wanted to acknowledge that but also be moving forward and pressing on. We really were able to make the most of our fall season.
“I’m really grateful we were able to get a chance to do so. Now, we’re just getting better every day and itching to get out there and play and compete. I cannot wait to compete with this team — just get after it and enjoy it.”
‘Staying connected’ through softball
This is VandeHoef’s 11th season as head softball coach. It will be a unique one.
Understandably, there has been more on her student-athletes’ hearts and minds the past year as everyone has adjusted to online classes, new safety protocols and limited social contact.
There will be no spring break trip to Florida this year, so VandeHoef has been creative to bolster the team camaraderie that often has been elevated during the annual excursion down south. Also, there are more games against MIAA opponents to fill out a 40-game schedule.
“There definitely have been aspects that are tough,” VandeHoef said. “We talk about being a five-minute friend, being that friend and teammate who is there for each other when you need it, to talk, facetime, or text. I think they really did a good job of staying connected in their own way. We’re certainly connected as a team.”
The Flying Dutch is expected to be a contender for an MIAA title this spring. Hope finished third in the 2021 MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll.
Dow Center Director
In addition to coaching softball, VandeHoef serves as the Dow Center director on campus.
The facility is the student recreation and intramural center, holds space for academic classes and is the home of the college’s dance department, and is a fitness area for faculty, staff, and community members. The Dow Center also periodically is a practice facility for Hope’s varsity teams.
It is a role that VandeHoef relishes since she enjoyed numerous broad-based activities as a student-athlete at her alma mater, Central College (Iowa).
“The Dow is so important to our campus,” VandeHoef said. “Having a place to recreate and have some fun and be with your friends is important. There are a lot of aspects of campus life that happen at the Dow that are fun to be facilitating. It’s a great position to know more of the Hope community and what makes this place special.”
All these years later, Michael Schanhals ’91, Hope College’s men’s lacrosse coach, still shakes his head about how his coaching career began.
He recalls visiting a friend in his old dorm room at Hope College when a call for him there. He answered the phone — which hung on a wall, not in his hand.
“I thought, ‘That’s weird?’ It’s a total coincidence that I was even in the vicinity,” Schanhals said on the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast. “It was Rick Morris from East Grand Rapids, and they want to interview me for a coaching job. I got the job as head boys lacrosse coach at East Grand Rapids, absolutely loved coaching there.”
Schanhals became smitten with coaching and made it a life-long passion. Since 2005, he has led the Flying Dutchmen lacrosse club he played for and oversaw its transition into a varsity program.
Hope is scheduled to begin its ninth varsity season on Wednesday, March 3 with a 5 p.m. home game against Aurora University (Illinois).
Building a Winning Program
Schanhals has built the Flying Dutchmen into a successful program. Hope is pursuing its third consecutive MIAA regular-season championship this spring.
The Flying Dutchmen won regular-season league titles in 2018 and 2019 and made their first NCAA Division III Tournament appearance in 2019 after winning the MIAA Tournament.
Hope started the 2020 season 3-0 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the remainder of the season. Schanhals guided the Flying Dutchmen through workouts last fall.
“Our fall work was really productive. Now, obviously, the next step is to test that against some other competition, too,” Schanhals said. “We’re really lucky to have a very talented and deep group of young players. We feel like we’re ready for games, but we also know that, once the games are on our growth and learning opportunities are just going to accelerate that much more. We’re really excited about that.”
In addition to coaching, Schanhals is a high school English teacher for North Muskegon Public Schools. He also coaches eighth-grade basketball there.
“The dead period for the NCAA is November and December from the end of fall ball to when we start back up,” Schanhals said. “I just can’t help it. I just really love the interaction, I think I learned so much from playing sports and just love it.
“To be able to share that, then also create a relationship with people so that you can be pushed intellectually at the same time, is everything I’ve ever wanted to do professionally. I’m so grateful that I have this opportunity for sure.”
On Saturday, February 27, the Hope College women’s basketball team will pay tribute to its nine graduating seniors. Since fans are not allowed at the event to recognize these student-athletes’ careers, head coach Brian Morehouse honors these seniors in his own words below.
Courteney Barnes — Hometown: Mokena, Illinois (Lincoln Way-Central HS); Majors: Special Education and Comprehensive Education K-8
Courteney has demonstrated a tireless work ethic over her career. She was the most improved player as a junior and has worked to improve each off season. Her aggressive play has led to a bigger role every year. She has left her mark both on the court and off with her leadership of the team bible study and work with the athletic chaplain. Courteney will be an impactful elementary teacher.
Mallory developed from a spot-up shooter to an inside/outside threat. Her biggest improvement was on defense where she developed over four years into an excellent ball screen defender and outstanding team defender. Mallory is a great teammate who grew from her SEED mission trip and became a spiritual leader on the team. Mallory is headed to physician assistant school upon graduation.
Natalee is a player who improved every single year at Hope. A severe knee injury caused her to miss her junior year, but tireless rehabilitation with our athletic trainers allowed her to return successfully for the senior campaign. She is unflappable under pressure and a knock-down shooter who increased her range throughout her career. Not many people know, but she is also the best dancer on the team.
Jess was awarded the BCAM (Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan) “Team First award for the 2019-2020 season. As a huge energy player, Jess has played many positions on the team from a guard to a post player. Her athleticism and instincts for the ball are what sets her apart on the floor. Jess worked hard to develop her shot consistency over four years and is now a dependable shooter and defender. A spiritual leader and go-to person for every player on the team, Jess will be a great addition to any company as an engineer after graduation.
Sydney Muller — Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan (Grand Rapids Christian HS); Major: Exercise Science
Though transferring in as a sophomore, it just seems like Sydney was here all four years. She is a player who earned her teammates respect when she arrived through being a team-first player immediately. She is a very high basketball IQ player who is also tremendously skilled. A devastating junior-year knee injury derailed an all-American type season, but her tireless work with the athletic trainers has allowed her to return to form as a senior. Syd is headed to physician assistant school upon graduation.
Thrust into the starting point guard role as a freshmen after not playing it in high school, Lauren has been a lead by example player at the point of the #1-ranked Hope defense. Her pressure on opposing team guards set up her teammates behind her allowing the defense to thrive. She has shown great improvement due to skill development after sophomore year to become a better offensive player. She is a three year captain who has done a great job leading by example. Lauren will be a great asset to the health care community as she serves as a nurse.
Ashleigh Thomas — Hometown: Shelby Township, Michigan (Lutheran North HS); Major: Nursing
Ashleigh is a multi-skilled player who improved each season. I thought the key point in her career was during her junior year when she embraced being our do-everything player (offensive rebound, inside/outside threat), and sacrificed her own stats for team wins. She has done a great job balancing out the rigors of nursing clinicals, missed practices, and being prepared despite not being able to be at every practice. She has been named the top nursing student in her class, and Ashleigh will be a tremendous nurse.
Kenedy Schoonveld— Hometown: Zeeland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS); Major: Social Work
Kenedy is a four-year starter who recently scored her 1000th point. She was selected as the MIAA MVP and a first-team All American as a junior. She is a tireless worker and has developed her skill both in and out of season. She has improved each season. She is an overlooked great defender who draws the other team’s toughest offensive assignment each game. She has served as a captain for three years and provides a steadying influence on the team. Kenedy is headed to graduate school in social work.
Each summer Olivia went to work and improved her skill and physicality. She is loved by her teammates for her leadership and approachability. She will graduate as the career leader in blocked shots and a two-time MIAA Defensive Player of the Year. She is the key player in a team that was ranked #1 in the nation for defense. Her anticipation and athleticism allowed her teammates to thrive on defense because she would protect the rim. Olivia’s tireless work ethic has resulted in obvious offensive improvement each year, including extending her range to the 3-point line. Olivia will attend graduate school for engineering.
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 — 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 — 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 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 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!
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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 — 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 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.”
“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.
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.
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.”
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 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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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.”