HOLLAND - A Hope College basketball player's selfless act is having an effect far beyond her team's recent national championship season.
It's led to creation of a scholarship that will help other students in perpetuity.
When the Hope women's basketball team made it to the playoffs this past spring, NCAA regulations required that only 15 players could suit up for the competition. Hope's MIAA championship squad had 16 members. Rather than make it necessary for Coach Brian Morehouse to choose or perhaps for one of her teammates to sit out the remaining games, junior guard Becky Bosserd of Sparta stepped forward and volunteered to spend the rest of the season in her street clothes.
The gracious gesture earned the admiration of her coach, her team mates and also Hope's loyal fans. One of those fans, community member Rob Zaagman, has decided to celebrate it by establishing an endowed scholarship at the college in her name. The "Rebecca Bosserd Scholarship Fund," available starting with the new school year, is intended for any student with financial need who, in keeping with Bosserd's example, has shown commitment to servant-leadership or volunteerism.
"I really feel that what she did was very significant, but really it goes much deeper than that," said Zaagman, who was among the Hope fans who made the trip to Springfield, Mass., for the Final Four in March. "It's more a recognition of character than one event."
"I think this is just one way of saying 'Thank you, Becky, for doing something tremendous for other people,'" he said. "What she did is never going to be forgotten."
Morehouse agrees that Bosserd's sacrifice reflects a remarkable consideration of others.
"It's probably the most unselfish act I've ever been a part of in my 10 years as a head coach, and I think it's a great reflection on both Becky and her parents as far as how she was raised," he said. "She exemplifies everything that we want in our players. She is selfless. She puts the team first in everything she does."
"I couldn't have more respect for a person than what I have for Becky and what she did," he said.
Even though she had been on the sidelines during most of the tournament run, she was the coaches' choice to accept the national championship trophy.
"When we went out to get our championship trophy, Becky was the first person that we sent out there and then our four captains followed behind her because we felt what she had done was really what our team was all about," he said.
Bosserd notes that she didn't struggle with her decision to miss the NCAA games.
"That way no one else would have to sit out," she said. "I did it and I never looked back."
Bosserd is a 2003 graduate of LowellHigh School and the daughter of James and Jane Bosserd of Sparta. A biology major, she is interested in a career that involves working with animals, possibly specializing in fisheries in wildlife. She worked at the OutdoorDiscoveryCenter south of Holland this summer.
Zaagman, who works in quality assurance at Haworth Inc., had never even met Bosserd prior to establishing the scholarship, other than briefly along with other members of the team during the college's championship celebration back in Holland in April. As a result, she never saw the recognition coming. "I was pretty surprised," she said, when she learned about it earlier this summer.
For Zaagman, Bosserd's team-first sacrifice focused his growing interest in supporting Hope students in some way. Since moving to Holland in 1992, he had come first to appreciate the campus and the college's positive presence on downtown during walks through the neighborhood, and then the students that he met as he volunteered in the community, and then the college itself as he learned more about Hope's program.
"Endowing a scholarship is something that I had in the back of my mind for a period of time now," he said. "As time went on, I felt that I wanted to try to help students down the road have an opportunity to have an education at Hope."
"I definitely wouldn't do something like this if I didn't think that the college had more than earned it," he said. "So for me, this is a tremendous investment also."