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.”