Faith and Sports in Action in India and Japan

by Anders Northuis ’19

It’s safe to say the kids and I had a fun time at camp in Udalguri!

This summer I had the great opportunity to travel to both India and Japan, with the support of the Hope College’s athletic and kinesiology departments, to not only share my faith in Jesus Christ but also be immersed in new cultures through sports. In Udalguri, India, I helped run a sports camp for children. In Tokyo, I taught soccer. In each place, my fellow Hope College travelers and I were fortunate to meet a multitude of kind-hearted people with eye-opening and educational worldviews.

In each place, my fellow Hope College travelers and I were fortunate to meet a multitude of kind-hearted people with eye-opening and educational worldviews.

Pastor Samuel and me

In India, we worked alongside Pastor Samuel, who travels around the state of Assam preaching at various Christian churches and making in-home visits to their members. Throughout our time in Udalguri with the Boro people, he showed me what true passion for serving the Lord and seeking first His kingdom looks like. Pastor Samuel prayed with so much passion and energy. It was clear that he truly loved the Lord. Another aspect of Pastor Samuel that I admire is his desire to build up leaders from the community to serve others as the hands and feet of God. We met two of the many men and women whom he is mentoring as leaders across northern India. Bichan and Monoroma travelled with Pastor Samuel to be a part of his Gospel-spreading work in Udalguri that week. Because both of them speak English well, they struggle with deciding whether they should move to a big city to get a good paying job with a telemarketer company or staying in northern India with Pastor Samuel to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Together at the Great Buddha in Kamakura, Japan

In Japan, we toured Tokyo for two weeks as well as helped out at a local soccer camp run by Inter Milan and Technos College. This trip gave us the opportunity to see various temples and shrines, which are still culturally significant throughout Japan. Shun, a student from Technos, provided us a good deal of insight into the history and meaning behind everything we saw. His grandfather is the priest at the temple in his hometown. Buddhist traditions have been a part of his family’s life for generations.

The kindness of a complete stranger is something we can all learn from and strive to improve in our own everyday lives here in the America.

Everyone we met or encountered in Tokyo was extremely kind to us. Whether we were asking for directions, joking loudly on the trains, or taking random selfies with people by the Shibuya Crossing (the busiest crosswalk in the world), the Japanese people offered authentic hospitality constantly. So many people were willing to walk two miles with us even if we only needed him or her to walk one. The kindness of a complete stranger is something we can all learn from and strive to improve in our own everyday lives here in the America.

I bring these lessons back with me to Hope thankful that I was able to experience God in new ways this summer. I am majoring in social work and would like to find a job overseas after I graduate. These trips have reaffirmed my desire to work with a faith-based organization in another country in the future. I thank Hope College for these two unforgettable trips that allowed me to experience new cultures, see places I never imagined I would see, meet kind people I’m glad I met, and to become a more global citizen in the process.

Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks

by Dr. Kirk Brumels, professor and chair, Hope College Kinesiology Department

Providing unabashed love in exchange for food and shelter, my dog Dixie’s devotion and friendship is a commonplace canine occurrence. Yet, as an English Setter from hunting bloodlines, she is genetically wired for more. So when Dixie became part of our family two years ago, it became my responsibility to help her satisfy her natural desire to pursue grouse and woodcock within Michigan’s upland forests.

Learning how to train Dixie caused me focus a bit more on sequential development and guiding correction involved in teaching a new skill or concept. The beauty in this lesson is that it impacted my role as an educator.

Never having owned or trained an upland bird-hunting dog before, I discovered quickly that Dixie and I were newbies who needed to acquire some old tricks. Learning how to train Dixie caused me to focus a bit more on sequential development and guiding correction involved in teaching a new skill or concept. The beauty in this lesson is that it impacted my role as an educator.

Now, let me be the first to say that I don’t treat my students like I treat my dog as a belly rub, a scratch behind the ear, or cut-up hot dog pieces as performance rewards may be considered inappropriate! But I believe the principles of training a dog can be applied to my teaching…let me explain.

The basic idea behind hunting with a pointing dog like Dixie, is that her natural scenting ability is used to locate and “point” out desired game birds. Once found, she should hold still (point) in close proximity to the bird until I can arrive on scene. Opportunities are lost if Dixie gets too close or chases the birds. Dogs like Dixie must be trained how to respond when birds are found. She needed to be educated on how to apply specialized, skilled behavior with her natural instincts. Dixie instinctively knows that smelling and locating birds is fun; however, she needed to be shown that keeping such birds on the ground and in front of her provided a greater reward.

Teaching and educating often involves an explanation, a demonstration, or both. I remember being asked in a college education course to teach someone to tie shoelaces by either words or actions alone. It was difficult. Obviously, a better teaching strategy was to simultaneously explain and show the sequential tasks that would lead to the end result. I learned then and, now more recently through training Dixie, that becoming skilled at either explaining or demonstrating the sequential steps improves my teaching when I actually combine the two.

A better teaching strategy was to simultaneously explain and show the sequential tasks that would lead to the end result.

This concept of intentional and sequential instruction was amplified while training Dixie.  Verbal explanations were not an option during our training (dogs understand limited English!) so I was required to show, reinforce, and reward a series of behaviors built upon those that preceded it. Dr. Steven Smith, professor of kinesiology and head men’s soccer coach, explains this “chaining instruction” to his pedagogy students and players on a daily basis. The model, according to Smith, is to “teach the individual parts and then chain them together like links of a chain.” This form of instruction links one activity or task to another until an end goal is reached, and it was a critical component of Dixie’s training program.

Likewise, with students whom we can extensively speak to, it is important for our verbal explanations to be progressive in nature. Smith likens this spoken instruction to motor skill development where “there are mature and immature behaviors or understanding and it is our job as educators to seek ways of moving our students step by step through the maturational and instructional process.”

Whether tying shoes, hunting upland game, or teaching skills and concepts, ultimate success relies on breaking down the end goal into sequential steps. We must start at the beginning and progress toward a goal. But, it does not end there. We cannot simply “get the ball rolling” and hope it ends up where we want it. We must also provide continued correction and reinforcement along the way.

That brings me to my second point.

In addition to “chaining instruction,” the value of positive reinforcement became exceedingly clear during Dixie’s training process. The extrinsic rewards of effusive praise or food treats are a critical component of training a dog in the early stages, but eventually they are replaced by obedience to expectation. The satisfaction of a job well done eventually becomes the intrinsic reward.

Laszlo Block of Google in his book titled Work Rules! states that “simple practice, without feedback and experimentation, is insufficient” when it comes to skill acquisition. Referring to the work of K. Anders Ericsson, a Florida State University professor of psychology, Laszlo mentions that in order to gain mastery, an individual must break down the desired goal into “tiny actions” and then “repeat them relentlessly” with “immediate feedback, correction, and experimentation.”

As we worked on performing desired skills, certain undesired responses inevitably happened. These moments of correction were necessary and expected, but they were not where emphasis was placed.

Correcting aberrant behavior and reinforcing appropriate actions were both critical for teaching Dixie the desired skills and behaviors that make a successful bird-dog. It all seemed more effective, though, when I positively reinforced a desired behavior than when I attempted to correct a negative one. As we worked on performing desired skills, certain undesired responses inevitably happened. These moments of correction were necessary and expected, but they were not where emphasis was placed. The focus was our desired end goal and the corrections served only as a way to redirect momentum toward positive responses that could be rewarded. By not over-reacting to deviant behavior, but instead by re-directing expectations and rewards toward positive behavior, I reduced the requirement for and time spent on correction and “constructive criticism.”

What this old dog learned is not necessarily new, but thanks to Dixie, I have a new appreciation for these old tricks. I can only hope that through applying these lessons to my responsibilities as an educator, I equal Dixie’s ability to find birds.

More to Sweden than Ikea

By Erin Brophy ’18

Swedish ponies like selfies too!

Looking for the best summer of your life? Look no further, because Hope College Geology summer research is where you will find it. Ponies, Swedish farmers, ROCKS. What could be better? But before I get too far ahead of my story, let me explain.

Outcrop jackpot!

I am a geology major at Hope and also a member of the women’s soccer team (FIRE UP DUTCH!).  This summer, I was given the privileged opportunity to travel to Sweden to conduct research with Dr. Edward Hansen, professor of geological and environmental sciences and department chair, and fellow geology student, Max Huffman. This experience was unforgettable and formative too.

We traipsed through pebble and shrub-filled fields and many dense forests in search of square-meter-sized boulders. Often, we only found moss and lichen-covered hillsides. But that’s what makes being a geology researcher fun; each day is a chance for a new discovery.

In Sweden, we were investigating a particular type of rock that once made up a large mountain range formed during a tectonic event, the Sveconorwegian orogen that occurred roughly 1.14-0.9 billion years ago. During this event, tremendous amounts of pressure made portions of the rock melt. Our goal in Sweden was to find outcroppings of these rocks (now very eroded) to observe the portions we hypothesize were part of this melt.  So, a very large portion of our time was spent doing reconnaissance work, locating these outcroppings wherever they were scattered. This fieldwork was extraordinary but also very challenging. We traipsed through pebble and shrub-filled fields and many dense forests in search of square-meter-sized boulders. Often, we only found moss and lichen-covered hillsides. But that’s what makes being a geology researcher fun; each day is a chance for a new discovery. And on one of the best days, we discovered friendship with a farmer and his wife in their home.

On this particular day, we needed to use a rock drill to sample a low-lying outcrop in a farmer’s pasture. The day before, our Swedish colleague called ahead to make sure the owner was willing to let us sample (and cause quite a bit of noise pollution). With approval, the next day we started drilling. A couple hours into the drilling process, the farmer’s neighbor came over to ask us about our project. He spoke English very well and wanted to tell his non-English-speaking neighbor (the farm owner) a little bit about the geology we were investigating. After briefing him on our project and showing him how to use the rock drill, the farmer invited us to come into his house for “fica” (the Swedish version of teatime). Five energetic farm dogs and his wife — who had prepared coffee, tea, and pastries — greeted us at the door. She even had fresh milk from the cows who had been watching us drill.

It’s amazing that the experiences you never expect to have and the people you never expect to meet are the memories you know you’ll never forget.

For about an hour, we sat with the farmer and his family, and his neighbors’ family too, in their home, learning a few Swedish words and talking about geology, dogs, movies, and horse racing (the farmer’s daughter was a professional horse trainer). It turned out to be the best day of field work, ever. It’s amazing that the experiences you never expect to have and the people you never expect to meet are the memories you know you’ll never forget. Plus, I returned to the United States with a new favorite Swedish tradition – fica, a time of restful communion.

Rocks rock wherever you find them.

These highly educational experiences are not rare at Hope. The geology program here focuses heavily on hands-on learning so we often take trips afield. In my three years as a geology major, I have traveled to the Upper Peninsula, Colorado, northern Kentucky, the Smokies, Arizona, and California to study various terrains and rock types. But being abroad this summer was most amazing of all, affording me an opportunity that most undergraduate geology students don’t usually get. Each opportunity gave me invaluable lessons and memories about something I love: the Earth.

I’m not limited to one passion at Hope. I play soccer — a game I’ve loved since I was little — at a high level here, and I learn at a high level  here too.

So, what does all of this have to do with soccer at Hope? If there is one favorite thing I’ve learned through all of my Hope experiences, it is this: I’m not limited to one passion. I play soccer — a game I’ve loved since I was little — at a high level here, and I learn at a high level too. And, I am just one of many student-athletes who have been able to pursue their academic goals with gumption and not be limited by the demands of their sport. I have met so many other student-athletes who have been able to travel abroad for class work and/or research. In fact, my coach, Leigh Sears, wants us to take part academic  adventures like these as much as possible and encourages our team to do so.

Every place I’ve traveled to as a geology student and every game I’ve played as a soccer athlete has vividly shown me that Hope College and the Hope women’s soccer program are designed to create future leaders of tomorrow, not just talented students and soccer players of today. That’s a combination that’s made my Hope experience rock solid!


Why the Madness?!

By Chad Carlson

Amid the teaching, coaching, parenting, committee work, and other responsibilities, writing a book takes a lot of time. Recently I completed Making March Madness, which is set to land in bookstores by the month’s end.  This book has taken me four years. And I can’t imagine spending that much time on a topic that wasn’t of great personal interest to me. In fact, if I wasn’t totally enamored by the spectacle of March Madness, I would not have written the book. I love everything about March Madness–the seedings, the upsets, the buzzer beaters, and the bracket pools.

Yet no one had researched the tournament’s origins before. So in some sense I got lucky that one of my great interests in life was an area in sport history that had not been studied. I was able to collect some materials from archives around the country that nobody had ever looked at. And to top it off, I found evidence that discredited what many sportswriters argued: that the National Association of Basketball Coaches sold their tournament to the NCAA for $2,500. If that had happened, so the sportswriters say, it would have been one of the best bargains in the history of sport (the tournament is worth billions now). The history of that transaction, though, is much more complex. So I guess I’m trying to “upset” the conventional wisdom. If you read Making March Madness, maybe you’ll agree with me. It’s a “bracket-busting” position!

2016-17 Kinesiology Awards and Honors

The 2017 Department of Kinesiology Award and Senior Celebration was held on Thursday, April 27th, 2017. This event honored the accomplishments of our outstanding students in Athletic Training, Exercise Science, Physical Education and Athletics and celebrated the next steps in their professional careers and chosen vocations. Each year the faculty and staff of the Kinesiology Department select deserving students who live into the department mission of “using the study and practice of human movement to transform the mind, body and spirit for lives of leadership, character and service.” We are so proud of each and every one of our graduating seniors and know that they will impact the world with accomplishments that have both significance and meaning.  Below is a listing of this year’s award winners:

The Miner Stegenga Award – Elizabeth Perkins:  This award is presented a student-athlete in the junior or senior class who has shown leadership in campus Christian activity. The student is one who demonstrated athletic ability in a college-sponsored sport and exemplified Miner Stegenga’s deep love of sports and his deeper love and Christian concern for those who played on both sides.

Alvin Vanderbush Student Athlete Award – Michael Stephen:  An award established by former Hope College athletes, to be given to a student-athlete who demonstrates the qualities and ideals exemplified by former Professor and Coach Alvin VanderBush’s life and career—integrity, diligence, commitment, and caring.

Otto VanderVelde All-Campus Award – Harrison Blackledge:  Presented to the senior man chosen by the Athletic Committee for his outstanding contribution to the College in athletics, scholarship, and participation in student activities. To be eligible, he must have earned at least three athletic letters.

John Schouten Award – Erin Herrmann  and Elizabeth Perkins:  This award is given in memory of John Schouten who was a long-time physical educator and Hope’s first athletic director.  Presented to a woman athlete in the senior class who, in the estimation of the athletic staff and the kinesiology department faculty, has been one of the top athletes in the women’s athletic program and has been an able and conscientious student during her years at Hope College. The recipient of this award must not only be an outstanding athlete, but must also possess other strong character traits. Ideally, she must demonstrate competent leadership in campus and Christian activities as well as leadership within the teams on which she has participated.

Dorothy and Russell Siedentop Award – Harrison Blackledge, Angelique Gaddy and Amanda Traversa:  An award given by Dr. Daryl Siedentop (’60) in memory of his parents to an outstanding graduating senior member of the men’s basketball team and an outstanding graduating senior member of the women’s basketball team. Preference will be given to students considering graduate school and careers in teaching and coaching. The recipients are chosen by the Athletic Committee.

Lawrence “Doc” Green Award in Athletic Training – Kyle Niswonger:  Presented to the most outstanding senior athletic training student who best exemplifies the qualities of scholarship and selflessness exemplified by the late Doc Green.

William and Mabel Vanderbilt Family Award – Abbie Zuiderveen:  An award established by Mrs. Mabel Vanderbilt Felton in memory of William Vanderbilt, Sr.  It is presented to seniors majoring in kinesiology who have demonstrated scholarship, integrity, and the promise of continued outstanding service to others.

Athletic Training Jr. Book Award – Madison Roskuszka:  Presented to a junior who exhibits the greatest promise for a career in sports medicine as a certified athletic trainer.

Susan Allie PE Award – Katrina Ellis:  This award is presented in memory of Susan Allie, Hope class of 1981.  Presented to the female major whose overall performance is judged most outstanding and best represents the high standards set by the late Susan Allie.  Winner decided by the Physical Education faculty.

Kathleen White Memorial Award – Bryanna Howard:  Presented to a promising junior or senior kinesiology major, preferably a young woman.

Exercise Science Major of the Year – Byoungjoon (Brandon) Jang:  Presented to the most outstanding exercise science major as determined so by the exercise science faculty.

Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) Outstanding Major of the Year Award – Amanda Traversa and Michael Barnett:  Awarded at NASPE Conference in fall and recognized at department dinner.



By Eva Dean Folkert

Over the course of two days this week, Hope College will host eight (maybe nine) softball and baseball games at Wolters and Boeve Stadiums. It makes for a lot of excitement for Hope players and fans, but it also makes a lot of work for the Hope grounds crew, those behind-the-scenes diamond denizens who maintain, prepare, and redo infields and outfields over and over to make them just right for all who play.

But they aren’t complaining. In fact, groundskeeper Jim Speelman and his crew get a kick out of creating well-maintained and meticulously-groomed fields of green.
While most of us simply show up at ball diamonds expecting the grass and dirt and white lines to look just so, rarely stopping to think about how they get that way, Speelman does stop and think about it. Everyday. Especially this Thursday and Friday when Hope hosts the two-day MIAA Softball Tournament and the final baseball doubleheader.

The Flying Dutch softball team opens tournament play against Trine University on Thursday at 1:00 pm while the Flying Dutchmen baseball team will close their home season at 2:00 pm versus Adrian College on Friday.

A 20-year veteran of the Hope grounds department who owned a lawn care business prior to arriving on campus, Speelman, who is now the president of the President of Michigan Sports Turf Manager Association (MSTMA), admits he never maintained or marked a ball field before coming to Hope. Last week, though, he conducted his third clinic for MSTHA’s members on infield maintenance. It gives him an opportunity to share his field wisdom as well as give back to the organization that taught him so much. It’s also a chance to showcase Hope’s two first-rate ball fields.

At the clinic, Speelman discussed “brooming,” “dragging,” repairing, and irrigating. He talked about repair for profound wear around all bases and the pitcher’s mound. He enlightened on dirt texture and workability.

And the man who knows each field’s topography like the proverbial back of his hand — Where the field dips a bit and hold more water? Where fielders trample down grass and dirt and leave pesky ruts? Where the drain lines are exactly? — imparted his philosophy on field upkeep and presentation recently, too.

“We want to give Hope players that ‘wow’ factor’ every time they come to the field,” says Speelman who is joined by Josh Alleman and his father Bob Speelman working on Hope’s athletic fields. “There is something about setting a field up and getting it to look nice, even if it’s going to be destroyed in two hours… if that. I like to watch the players come out and see that they are the ones putting the first footprints on the field because everything has just been dragged and swept. I like hearing them say, ‘Wow, this place looks sweet.’”

As added touches, Speelman makes handmade stencils so he can paint Hope logos or uniform numbers for Senior Recognition Days on the field.  Additionally, he and his crew only have 20 minutes between doubleheader or tournament games to repack the pitcher’s foot plant area on the mound, fill in base paths or home plate holes, re-chalk batter-box lines, and re-drag the infield, but they want “the second game to start out as close to the same field conditions as when the first game started,” he says.

Though unruly, complicated, non-spring-like weather adds layers to their work wardrobe and extra time to their workday, the grounds crew is still happy to provide a service they know makes a difference. They’ll gladly start their diamond day well before to the first pitch and remain well into the last game. Besides, it would be hard imagining any one of these guys sitting behind an indoor desk. The outdoors is where they feel called to be.

“We want to create an experience, and we’re doing it for a good purpose,” explains Alleman. “It’s like any job in life. You have a gratitude of a certain moment, but there’s always an expiration date for that moment’s work. Our work expires a bit faster than others maybe, but we don’t mind. We’ll be back the next game to make (the field) look great again.”