There’s a boy who lives across the hall from me. I live in Phelps 204, he lives in Phelps 218. His name is Ryan Woodside. “Woody” for short. None the less, Ryan is a poet. Actually, Mr. Woodside is a pre-med student who “dabbles in poetry.” Ryan is also an incredible soccer player, though he would claim he is just “average.” To save you from the elongated explanation, I will provide you with the Spark Notes. Woody is an ultra-intelligent, strikingly handsome, and fabulous athlete who would never in a million years boast his own accomplishments. If you do not believe me, allow me to provide you with a few facts:

  1. Ryan’s poems are awesome. He writes all sorts, but his best in my opinion are slam more commonly referred to as spoken word. AKA Ryan memorizes a couple pages of ingenious language that tells a story and delivers it in front of a crow. He is very soft-spoken, I would have never pegged him as a gifted public speaker. However, he’s a natural and it rocks. I’ll provide a sample. When Woody speaks, those who are wise listen.
  2. Ryan was the only freshman soccer player to start in every game this year. This feat was accomplished despite an injured back that prevented him from walking after most physical activity.
  3. As for the looks, I’d ask the females around Hope. The girl’s soccer team would be a great place to start. They seem to like him.

The point of this is not to flatter Ryan. He has his flaws. Ask him and he’d be quick to remind you of the breakaway he failed to convert against Kalamazoo. Dig a little deeper and he may tell you of the time he ran from Hope’s campus to Lake Michigan in the middle of the night (a mere 18 miles). Why he did this? He was “angry.”

Anyways, while I was home this break I was thinking. I think a lot if you could not tell already, and one thing I consistently question is how in the world I ended up in Holland, Michigan at Hope College. What is a kid from Pittsburgh, (who if I don’t hint at it enough, loves his home) doing in Holland. Going on about being home, I got to see some of my friends from Pittsburgh. As I’ve mentioned before, they’re cast all over the place. From PSU to JMU to ASU… you name it. Then I think about my friends from Hope. 60% are from Michigan. Most of those 60% call their home somewhere within 20 miles of Hope’s campus. Not much diversity as far as demographics go.

Yet, here’s the catch. My friends from back home seem like they’re having fun. I think they’re meeting friends that they’ll tell their kids about one day, and others that I don’t think they’ll know come next month. That’s just how it works at big state schools I guess. Here at Hope, it’s a little bit different. I’m not sure how to put it in to words really, (shocking I know), but Hope is simply for lack of better terms: Dope.

Disclaimer: to all you old-timers out there (Dad), in my generation “dope” does not mean “drugs”. In fact dope means the complete opposite. It’s a synonym for “cool” or “awesome” or “sweet”.

That saying, “Hope is Dope”, has a lot of different meanings around campus. I heard it a lot on the first snowfall when campus looked really pretty. I even said it myself; in a snap story. Sometimes you’ll hear it sarcastically when that notorious religion professor assigns an eight page paper on one of the Ten Commandments. In my mind, however, when I think Hope is Dope I think of the kids. Yeah, I know, before you get at me for being cliche and what not hear me out.

I think of Tucker Marty. Arguably my closest friend on campus who has dreams to change the world.

I think of Jake Chipka. Senior baseball player, who is also an active ambassador for an orphanage in Honduras.

Of course, I also think of Woody.

There’s plenty of other people on the campus who make Hope, well….Dope. No matter what way you look at it, there’s one definite reason this place is as special as it is. Christ is preeminent. So I guess you could say Jesus is pretty dope too.

I came here with the intentions of, by the time I leave, being unrecognizable by those who knew me before I enrolled in this institution. Unrecognizable in such a way that God had broken my pride, erased my selfishness, and transformed my heart to be more like his. The results? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Hope Is Dope.

With love,


PS, this is one of  Woody’s poems. It’s called “Human.” Give it a listen.

Posted inCampus Life

Published by Steve Binnig

My Name is Steve Binnig and I'm a freshman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I can basically sum up my life in three words: Jesus, Soccer, and Haiti. Keep up with me on Social Media! Twitter: @stevebinnig Instagram: @stevebinnig

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