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Family, friends and players gathered on Sunday, July 5 to celebrate the life of Karen Page who died on July 3 after losing a courageous battle with cancer. Karen coached the Hope College women's tennis team for 12 seasons. Her 2009 team won the championship of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The gathering of more than 500 people included players from the high school and college teams she coached. Many wore a pink t-shirt donned by players on both the Hope women's and men's team in honor of Coach Page this past season. Among the presenters of tributes was Priya Malviya, captain of the 2005 Flying Dutch team. Priya authored the following poem as a tribute to Coach Page:
It seems like only yesterday we were talking on the phone,
you were so proud to tell me that your team won the '09 conference tournament, I'll always remember the excitement in your tone.
It seems like only yesterday your voice echoed through the courts of DeWitt,
I'll always remember your passion for teaching tennis, you truly loved every minute of it.
It seems like only yesterday you were coaching me in a match that I just couldn't win,
I'll always remember the advice you gave me -- "Just have fun out there" -- you said with a grin.
It seems like only yesterday four years of college tennis quickly passed,
I'll always remember the values you taught me -- those of good sportsmanship, respect, and class.
It seems like only yesterday Holland High was playing West Ottawa in the biggest girls tennis match of the year,
I'll always remember you shouting out "Go WO" and even though I played against your team, I couldn't help but smile when I heard you cheer.
It seems like only yesterday you were feeding tennis balls in the summer on the courts of 22nd Street,
I'll always member your energy and enthusiasm - it definitely motivated me to move my feet.
It seems like only yesterday I was stepping onto a tennis court for the very first time at the Holland Tennis Club,
I'll always remember being the 10-year-old girl taking her first tennis lesson with Coach Karen Page - I can think of no one who taught me better.
There's so many memories that I have of you, Coach, and although your time here has come and gone so fast,
I know that these memories are ones that I will cherish forever, and ones that will always last.
For although it was only yesterday that the battle for your life came to a bitter end,
I'll always remember you exactly as the person you were -- my role model, my mentor, my coach, and above all, my friend.
Karen Page, a leader in the advancement of tennis at the high school, college and community levels, died Friday, July 3, 2009, at the Hospice House in Holland following a long, courageous battle against cancer.
Page, 60, most recently was serving as director of the college's DeWitt Tennis Center and coached the Hope women's tennis team the past 12 years.
"She was a very special lady, so enthusiastic, so energetic," longtime colleague Dwayne "Tiger" Teusink '58 told The Holland Sentinel. "She motivated everyone around her. She promoted loyalty and respect with her players. She was a role model."
"Positive energy and spirit were the hallmarks of Karen Page's life. Every woman she coached, every person she touched was the beneficiary of her strong touchstones of enthusiasm and passion, not just for the game of tennis but for the joy of life," said Eva Dean '83 Folkert, co-director of athletics at Hope. "I honestly can't remember a time when in the space of five minutes -- whether in competition or conversation, I did not see a smile come across KP's face. We will greatly miss such a terrific role model to students and women. We will greatly miss such a treasured coach and friend."
Page guided the Hope Flying Dutch to conference championships in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. The 1998, 2000 and 2009 Flying Dutch earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. Although a recurrence of cancer this spring did not allow her to actively coach the team, it also did not deter her from being with her squad at the conference and NCAA tournaments.
Page had an extensive background as a teacher and coach of tennis. She previously served as coach of the boys' and girls' varsity teams at Holland West Ottawa High School. She also coached the Holland community's adult women USTA travel teams.
She served as president of the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association and was a certified tennis teaching professional.
She was presented the distinguished service award by the Western Michigan Tennis Association for outstanding leadership and service and named to the Hall of Fame of the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association. She was a graduate of Iowa State University.
Survivors include her husband, Tom Page '72; a twin sister, Karyl Garbo (Jack Whitley) of Phoenix, Ariz.; and a brother, Tim, of Montana.
A memorial service was held in Dimnent Memorial Chapel on Sunday, July 5, and led by the Rev. Paul Boersma '82, who is the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Endowed Senior Chaplain at Hope.