Hope's rich tradition of excellence in intercollegiate athletics has never been more evident than during the recently completed winter sports season.
Three of the four winter championships in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) were won or shared by Hope teams. All four teams were represented in NCAA championship play.
Hope basketball fans were treated to unprecedented success as the men's and women's teams combined for a cumulative 54-6 season record. The MIAA's most valuable basketball players both came from Hope. Seniors Amanda Kerkstra and Don Overbeek took similar paths to Hope having graduated from the same high school (Calvin Christian in suburban Grand Rapids, Mich.). They each excelled at center and ended their careers as All-Americans.
The Flying Dutch won a fourth consecutive MIAA championship and were the last team in all of NCAA Division III women's basketball to have an unbeaten record.
The Flying Dutchmen shared the MIAA men's championship with Albion in a season climaxed by the 500th coaching victory for Glenn Van Wieren.
Hope claimed a league-record 20th MIAA women's swimming crown.
The success of the winter sports teams has given Hope a commanding lead for the MIAA Commissioner's Cup, which is presented to the member school with the best cumulative performance in all 18 of the MIAA-sponsored sports. In addition to topping the Commissioner's Cup standings, Hope was also ahead in the MIAA men's and women's all-sports races.
On the national level, Hope ranks 24th out of 248 Division III colleges after the winter season in the Directors' Cup standings of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
The Flying Dutch recorded the first undefeated regular season in Hope women's basketball history enroute to winning the conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Coach Brian Morehouse's Dutch reeled off 31 consecutive victories before bowing in the NCAA Sectional tournament championship game. The men's basketball team was undefeated during the regular season twice (1983-84 and 1994-95) and the 1995-96 team finished with 32 victories.
The Flying Dutch won the MIAA championship a fourth consecutive year, compiling a 104-12 overall record. The team gained a berth in the NCAA playoffs for the seventh time in school history by winning the conference tournament.
The traditional net-cutting at the end of the MIAA tournament championship game had a special meaning for the team. After each player and coach had climbed a ladder to snip a part of the net, it was presented to Mrs. Connie Hinga Boersma '49, widow of longtime Hope fan Max Boersma '46 who died in January. The team also dedicated their season to Mr. Boersma's memory.
Senior Amanda Kerkstra of Grandville, Mich. was named a Division III Kodak All-American by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. She ended her career as Hope's alltime leading scorer with 1,521 points. This season she became the first Hope player to lead the MIAA in scoring, averaging 16.5 points a game.
Senior Amy Baltmanis of Paw Paw, Mich. will go into the record books as the most durable player in Hope basketball history. The All-MIAA guard started in every game from her first as a freshman to the last as a senior -- a string of 116 consecutive games. Research by the Hope College sports information office determined that no player in NCAA Division III women's basketball history compiled a longer streak.
The accomplishments of coach Brian Morehouse '91 were acknowledged by his peers when he was named the Russell Athletic/WBCA District Coach of the Year for the second time in three years. In seven seasons as coach, Morehouse has guided the Flying Dutch to a 155- 41 record, including 81-17 in league games.
Nationally ranked the entire season, the Flying Dutchmen enjoyed their 24th consecutive winning campaign and climbed back atop the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
A pair of clutch victories on the road in the final week of the regular season gained the Flying Dutchmen a league co- championship with Albion. It was a record 31st MIAA crown for the Flying Dutchmen.
A complicated tie-breaker formula to determine the host and top-seeded team in the conference tournament resulted in a coin toss which Hope lost, sending the Flying Dutchmen to Albion for the post-season classic which determines the MIAA representative to the NCAA championships. And on top of all that, Hope was paired against rival Calvin in the semi-finals in a gymnasium that sits only 1,300 people.
The 152nd renewal of this storied rivalry, played on a neutral floor for only the fourth time since it began in 1920, was not for the faint of heart going into overtime before Hope prevailed 81-80. Amazingly, only 13 points separate these two teams over all the games that have been played.
The victory sent the Flying Dutchmen into the championship game against the host Britons. Using outstanding defense, the Flying Dutchmen prevailed 61-48 to advance to the Division III playoffs for the 17th time in school history.
The MIAA tournament championship game victory also marked a milestone for longtime coach Glenn Van Wieren '64. It was the 500th over his 26-year coaching career. With victory assured, Hope students attending the championship game rushed on to the floor and hoisted Van Wieren on their shoulders in tribute to the accomplishment.
Hope's NCAA tournament run was short-lived as the Flying Dutchmen bowed to Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the second round, 84-77.
The Flying Dutchmen finished with a 23-5 record marking 22nd consecutive year that Hope has won 15 or more games in a season. One of Hope's victories was over Reformed Church sister-college Northwestern, Iowa, which went on to win the NAIA Division III national championship.
Senior Don Overbeek of Wyoming, Mich., was voted the MIAA's most valuable player. He also received all-region honors from the College Basketball Coaches Association and national recognition as a second team Division III All-American by d3hoops.com.
Overbeek and senior captain Chad Carlson of Holland, Mich., joined a men's basketball honor roll of players who have scored more than 1,259 points in their career. Overbeek ended with 0,000 points and Carlson with 1,034.
A unique feature of Hope sports teams over the years has been the number of siblings who have competed together. This year brothers Chad and Jeff (a freshman) Carlson were in the starting lineup together most of the season.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Hope's most decorated women's athletic program added another MIAA championship to its collection as the Flying Dutch won the conference swimming meet.
The Flying Dutchmen, meanwhile, finished runnerup in the men's championship and went on to place 13th at the Division III nationals.
Coach John Patnott has guided Hope swimming teams to 25 MIAA championships and the accomplishments at nationals raise to 105 the number of All-Americans under his tutelage.
Hope placed 13 swimmers on the All-MIAA team. Two seniors, Erin VandenBerg of Beverly Hills, Mich., and Brian Slagh of Zeeland, Mich., each received All-MIAA honors a fourth consecutive year. The achievement of Erin VandenBerg was especially meaningful because her older sister Betsy '01 was also an All- MIAA swimming four consecutive years.
Also receiving All-MIAA honors junior Audrey Arnold of Richmond, Ind., senior Daniel Bouwens of Zeeland, Mich., freshman Lisa Ekdom of Holland, Mich., sophomore Kari Foust of Plymouth, Mich., junior Chris Hamstra of Zeeland, Mich., junior Ian Kobes of Holland, Mich., freshman Meagan O'Neil of Troy, Mich., freshman David Ornee of Zeeland, Mich., senior Kelly Parker of Battle, Creek, Mich., and junior Michelle Smith of Olympia, Wash., sophomore Erika Steele of Portage, Mich.
The Flying Dutchmen had three All-America performances at the NCAA championships. Slagh finished seventh in the 200-yard freestyle. He counted 11 career All-America efforts.
Two freestyle relay teams (200 and 400 yards) also had All- America finishes. The relay members included freshman Travis Barkel of Zeeland, Mich., Hamstra, sophomore Jeff Heydlauff of Chelsea, Mich., Ornee, and Slagh.
The Hope ice hockey club team continued to excel nationally, finishing second in the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament. A year ago the Flying Dutchmen were fifth in their first national tournament experience.
After winning three games to advance to the finals, the Flying Dutchmen were defeated in the national championship game by Muskegon Community College 4-2.
Two seniors were named all-tournament team: defender Scott Van Timmeren of Holland, Mich., and goalkeeper Ben Von Eitzen of Vicksburg, Mich. The team is coached by Chris Van Timmeren '97.