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.”