Hope's tradition-rich basketball program highlighted the winter sports season with record performances, conference championships and post-season tournament appearances.
The men's basketball season was launched under first-year coach Matt Neil '82, who took over the reigns after a long tenure as an assistant to now-retired coach Glenn Van Wieren '64. The program did not lose a beat, winning a record 35th Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic (MIAA) championship and advancing to the NCAA Division III tournament for a 22nd time.
There were many season highlights.
° Senior Will Bowser of Midland, Mich. scored a school-record, home-floor 46 points in an overtime victory over Kalamazoo.
° The Flying Dutchmen defeated rival Calvin in two of their three meetings to take a five-win advantage in the storied series.
° Two victories were especially meaningful for coach Neil whose sons, Logan and Grant, were members of the basketball program. Grant, a freshman, played on the junior varsity team, and Logan, a junior, was a key contributor on the varsity. In fact, Logan was a key contributor in two of coach Neil's 22 first-year victories. He was the leading scorer in his father's first collegiate victory (23 points against Aquinas, 92-69), and led the team in scoring in the MIAA title-clinching game (17 points against Olivet, 65-60).
° Bowser, who became the 18th Hope male basketball player to score more than 1,200 points, received All-MIAA first team and All-Region honors.
The women's basketball program continued its string of successes by advancing to the NCAA championships for a sixth consecutive year after sharing the conference (MIAA) championship with rival Calvin.
The Flying Dutch, under coach Brian Morehouse, posted a 27-3 season record. In 15 seasons under coach Morehouse, the Flying Dutch have posted a record of 375-63. This year's senior class, led by All-American Carrie Snikkers of Jenison, Mich., compiled a four-year record of 117-8.
Snikkers was joined on the All-MIAA first team by senior Erika Bruinsma of Grand Rapids, Mich. Sophomore Liz Ellis of East Grand Rapids, Mich., was honored as the MIAA's defensive player of the year.
Snikkers was again named a consensus All-American. She became the first Hope basketball player (male or female) to receive first-team All-America honors three consecutive years.
There were two other very memorable basketball moments.
One didn't occur on the basketball court, but in LakeMacatawa as coaches Morehouse and Neil took The Plunge into the icy waters to benefit Special Olympics. Hope's basketball program has a long history with Special Olympics going back to coach Russ DeVette '45. This year, involvement with Special Olympics gained a national emphasis through NCAA Division III.
The second occurred just as Hope's season was ending. The death of a basketball player at nearby Fennville High School was devastating to those in that small nearby community. The high school team was coached by Hope basketball alumni Ryan Klinger '01 and his wife Becky Sutton '02 Klinger. In the aftermath, the college reached out to Fennville by offering DeVos Fieldhouse as a location for the team's district tournament games. The impact of this tragic death and the community's reaction to it captured the attention of a national audience through the media. More than 10,000 fans filled DeVos over the three tournament games.
Swimming and Diving
Both Hope swimming and diving teams garnered second place in the MIA championships under coach John Patnott.
Eleven Hope athletes received All-MIAA honors: junior Patrick Frayer of Grand Rapids, Mich.; sophomore Josh Grabijas of Howell, Mich.; sophomore Nick Hazekamp of Janesville, Wis.; freshman Jacob Hunt of Muskegon, Mich.; senior Ashley Jasperse of Grand Rapids, Mich.; sophomore Geoff Ludema of Ada, Mich.; junior Andrew Rose of Holland, Mich.; junior Jeff Shade of Davison, Mich.; junior Sarah Sohn of Arlington Heights, Ill.; senior Alicia Tuuk of Lansing, Ill.; and sophomore Libby Westrate of Grandville, Mich.
Two Flying Dutch were triple winners at the MIAA championships: Libby Westrate in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events, and Sarah Sohn in the 500 and 1650 freestyle and 400 individual medley. Sohn's time in the 1650 was a conference record.
For the second straight year and the third time in school history, the Flying Dutchmen finished second at the national tournament of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). This year's nationals were held in Holland, Mich.
Coach by Chris Van Timmeren '97, the Flying Dutchmen won a school-record 28 games. Named ACHA All-Americans were junior forward Chris Kunnen of Des Moines, Iowa, and junior goalie Dave Nowicki of Littleton, Colo.
MIAA Commissioner's Cup
Through the winter sports season, Hope was in second place in the Commissioner's Cup standings of the MIAA. The MIAA award is based on the cumulative performance of each member school in the league's 18 sports for men and women. Calvin topped the standings after the winter season, leading Hope 137-129.