Spring, 2007 was a season of accomplishment for Hope sports teams who contributed to another banner year for the intercollegiate program.
The orange and blue banner to be hung from the rafters of the DeVos Fieldhouse will mark Hope's claim to the Commissioner's Cup of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) for the seventh consecutive year and a record 29th time in school history.
There were numerous team and individual highlights that contributed to Hope's spring success. A record number of athletes received All-America honors in track and field, the baseball team won more games in a season than ever before and softball coach Karla Wolters reached a milestone in her illustrious career.
Four athletes qualified for the NCAA Division III track and field national championships. Four returned as All-Americans. Seniors Jennifer VanderMeer of Holland, Mich. and Ryan TerLouw of Iowa set new standards. VanderMeer became the first Hope athlete, male or female, to gain All-America honors four consecutive years as she placed fourth in the pole vault. TerLouw became the first male athlete to achieve All-America distinction three straight years in an event by placing fourth in the 1,500-meter run.
TerLouw, who was named the MIAA's most valuable runner, had a "dream" season of sorts. He was invited to compete in the Dream Mile at the Hillsdale Relays with an opportunity to challenge Hope's mile record which stood nearly 40 years. Track events are now measured in meters. Rick Bruggers '69 held the mark of 4:12.2. Competing against several NCAA Division I and Olympic-caliber athletes, TerLouw was timed in 4:05.31. He graduates holding Hope records in nearly every distance event.
Probably the most versatile of all Hope athletes is junior Lindsay Lange of Manistee, Mich. A significant contributor to Hope's basketball success in recent seasons, Lange is also a premiere track and field athlete. This spring for a second consecutive season she achieved NCAA All-America honors in the seven-event heptathlon with a fourth place finish at nationals.
The Flying Dutch counted Hope's highest point total ever at nationals with every qualifier contributing. Sophomore Christina Lis of Novi, Mich. made her first trip to the championships and returned with a sixth place finish in the high jump.
The baseball and softball teams each continued their traditions of success by surpassing 20 victories. The Flying Dutchmen posted a school-record 29 games en route to winning the MIAA championship and gaining a berth in the NCAA tournament. The baseball title was Hope's eighth in 14 years under coach Stu Fritz. Senior pitcher Mike Rodgers of Saline, Mich. and junior shortstop Brian Baker of Holland, Mich. were voted the MIAA's most valuable players.
The Flying Dutch surpassed 20 victories for the fourth straight season with a 25-13 record. A most significant win came early in the season when the Flying Dutch notched the 600th collegiate victory under coach Karla Wolters '73. Ranked among the winningest all-time NCAA Division III softball coaches, Wolters over her 29 year coaching career has 623 softball wins and 1,076 victories over all of the sports she has coached.
The MIAA batting champion in baseball and softball were both Hope athletes. Junior catcher Kylee Brouwer of Hudsonville, Mich. topped all softball batters with a .519 average while sophomore first baseman Matt VanderVelde of Grandville, Mich. was tops in baseball at .456.
In tennis senior Stephen Malvitz of Ada, Mich. was named the recipient of the MIAA's Stowe Sportsmanship Award which is given by the league's coaches for contributions to team, leadership qualities and exemplification of Christian virtues and sportsmanship. Malvitz is the seventh Hope player to receive it in the last eight years. In 15 seasons under coach Steve Gorno, the Stowe award has gone to a Hope player 10 times.
Hope finished 18th at the NCAA Division III men's golf championships. Junior Tommy Yamaoka of Zeeland, Mich. achieved All-America distinction by placing 15th in the 185-player field. His average of 76.5 strokes per-round was the best-ever by a Hope golfer at nationals. Yamaoka, who was the national freshman of the year in 2005, was voted to the Ping All-America second team. Senior captain Nate Golomb of Schoolcraft, Mich. led every golfer in the tournament in Par 3 efficiency. He averaged 3.06 strokes on the courses' eight par three holes.
Awards as the outstanding athletes in the class of 2007 were presented to four students. Lisa Smith of Dearborn, Mich. and Jennifer VanderMeer were presented the John Schouten award while Ryan Ter Louw and Michael VanderVelde of Grandville, Mich. received the Otto van der Velde All-Campus Award.