A typical year of Hope College intercollegiate sport consists of hundreds of athletic contests spread across three seasons. There are literally thousands of ticks of the game clock. Hundreds of individual plays. Strategies plotted; game-deciding decisions made. These accumulations decide conference finishes and together determine the winner of the ultimate prize - the Commissioner's Cup of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Over the past decade, the outcome of race for The Cup has come down to crucial spring sports contests. This year was no different.
Hope's claim to a 10th consecutive Commissioner's Cup rested on the outcomes of final home doubleheaders in baseball and softball. Doubleheader sweeps were needed by both teams, and neither the Flying Dutch nor Flying Dutchmen disappointed. The softball team marked the coaching finales of Karla Hoesch '73 Wolters by defeating Olivet twice while the baseball team of coach Stu Fritz took a pair from Albion to assure that Hope would finish two places ahead of rival Calvin in the standings and thus win the Commissioner's Cup by a single point!
Except for a tie in the Cup standings between the same two schools in 2007-08, Hope's margin of victory is the closest margin in the 76-year-history of the award.
During the 2009-10 school year, Hope crowned MIAA champions in four sports: men's golf, volleyball, women's basketball, and men's swimming and diving. The Flying Dutchmen and Flying Dutch displayed amazing competitiveness over the year with teams finishing first or second in 14 of the league's 18 sports.
The spring sports season was highlighted by the first-ever top-10 finish at the NCAA Division III championships in men's golf. Unranked on a national level throughout the season, coach Bob Ebels's Flying Dutchmen went into the record book as the most successful in school history by tying for ninth place at the championship meet.
Three Flying Dutchmen averaged within a stroke of one another and all three surpassed the previous best by a Hope golfer at nationals. Senior captain Steven Strock of Grandville, Mich., averaged 74.25 strokes over the four rounds while junior Chris Ansel of Zeeland, Mich., averaged 74.75 strokes and freshman Charles Olson of Suttons Bay, Mich., finished at 75.25. Strock was named to the PING All-America third team and honored as a Division III Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar.
In one of the most successful performances ever at the NCAA track and field championships, three athletes achieved NCAA All-America recognition. Combining to score the most points ever in the men's meet, junior John Donkersloot of Zeeland, Mich., finished third for the second consecutive year in the high jump, and senior Jeffrey Minkus of Glen Ellyn, Ill., was fourth in the triple jump to become Hope's first All-American in that event. Junior Kara Vande Guchte of Hamilton, Mich., finished fourth in the seven-event heptathlon as Hope had an All-America finish in that event for the fourth time in five years.
Both Hope tennis teams finished second in their respective MIAA races. The Flying Dutchmen surpassed 200 career dual match victories during the 18-year tenure of coach Steve Gorno, while the Flying Dutch marked the coaching debut of Nate Price by putting together a string of 14 consecutive dual wins.
Senior John Gardner of Granville, Ohio, and freshman Bobby Cawood of East Lansing, Mich., were voted to the All-MIAA men's first team. Gardner received All-MIAA honors four consecutive years.
Junior Katherine Garcia of Battle Creek, Mich. was voted to the All-MIAA women's first team and was named the recipient of the Sue Little Sportsmanship Award. Junior Alyssa Austin of Spring Lake, Mich., was also voted to the All-MIAA first team.
Both track and field teams finished second in their respective MIAA races. Eleven athletes were awarded All-MIAA honors.
Highlighting the honors was the selection of junior Cameron Lampkin of Oak Park, Mich., as the league's outstanding male track performer. Lampkin was the conference champion in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. The last time a Hope sprinter received MVP recognition was 1986.
Three athletes received All-MIAA honors for a third consecutive year -- senior Jeffrey Minkus of Glen Ellyn, Ill., junior Nick Rinck of Hudsonville, Mich., and junior Kara Vande Guchte of Hamilton, Mich.
Honored for a second time were junior John Donkersloot of Zeeland, Mich., and senior Aaron Treiber of Auburn, Mich. First-time honorees included freshman Elliott Barney of South Holland, Ill., senior Bryan DeKoekkoek of Martin, Mich., freshman Shaelie Harper of Holland, Mich., freshman Taylor Mattarella of Traverse City, Mich., and freshman Sarah Venlet of Zeeland, Mich.
In softball, the Flying Dutch marked the 20th winning season under coach Karla with a 20-18 mark, while the Flying Dutchmen baseball team came within a win of a school record with a 28-12 record. Receiving All-MIAA first team honors were sophomore centerfielder Stephanie Faber of Byron Center, Mich., and senior utility player Robby Poll of Grandville, Mich. Poll was also named to the Mideast All-Region team.
The club lacrosse team won the Central Division championship of the Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association, advanced to the semi-finals of the conference tournament and ended ranked 15th in the national Collegelax.us coaches' poll. Junior Eric Weber of Ann Arbor, Mich., led the nation in scoring with 89 goals and 39 assists and was named an All-American for a second straight year.