The alumni H-Club at Hope College will present its "Hope for Humanity Award" to Russ DeVette, a Hope graduate who spent 37 years at Hope as a member of the faculty and coach, on Saturday, Oct. 6, during the college's Homecoming Weekend.
The award, first presented in 1990, recognizes Hope athletic alumni for consistent service to others and demonstrating the values of Christian commitment and service. The H-Club consists of Hope alumni who were athletic letter winners and other honorary letter winners as approved by the H-Club's Board of Directors.
The group will honor DeVette during its annual Homecoming luncheon, which will be held in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse. The H-Club will also recognize female Hope athletes from the era before the passage of the national Title IX legislation in 1972, presenting them with varsity letters retroactively in honor of their role as pioneers in women's sport at the college.
DeVette, who is a 1945 Hope graduate, taught or coached at Hope for nearly 40 years, from 1948 until retiring in 1988 as professor emeritus of physical education, with three years away in the 1950s to serve with the U.S. Marine Corps and on the faculty of the University of Maine.
DeVette enrolled at Hope in 1941 from Muskegon as a member of the Class of 1945, but his education was interrupted by service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and he returned and completed his degree in 1947. During his pre-war years as a student he was a member of the 1942-43 "Blitz Kids," the first Hope men's basketball team to go undefeated in MIAA play. In 1947, he was the first player ever to receive the MIAA Most Valuable Player Award in basketball.
After graduating from Hope with degree in history education he went on to the University of Michigan for a master's in physical education before returning to the college to teach and coach.
As a member of the faculty he developed the college's physical education minor in 1948, and also served as the athletic director and chairperson of the department. In 1986 he co-authored the book "Coaching Basketball: The Complete Book from Beginning to Championship Play" with faculty colleague Dr. William Vanderbilt, a 1961 Hope graduate who as a student had played for DeVette.
DeVette was head coach of the men's basketball team from 1948 to 1951 and from 1956 to 1977. Over 24 seasons, his basketball teams captured nine MIAA championships and one NCAA regional crown. He was also head football coach from 1955 to 1969, during which period the team won two MIAA titles, and he remained on the football coaching staff as defensive coordinator through 1987. He also served as head coach in both baseball and women's track; his baseball teams won league championships in 1953 and 1954, and his women's track team won league championships in 1981, 1982 and 1988.
DeVette was named the Michigan NAIA Coach of the Year in basketball for 1956-57. From 1975 to 1981, he was a member of the first basketball committee for the NCAA Division III, serving as the committee's chairperson during the last two years. In 1989, he was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame.
The college's annual Russ DeVette Holiday Tournament in basketball is named in his honor. During the tournament in December 2005, the main basketball gymnasium in the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse was named the "DeVette-Van Wieren Gymnasium" in recognition of him and his wife Doris, and current coach Dr. Glenn Van Wieren and Van Wieren's wife Jackie, for their decades-long service to Hope. Glenn Van Wieren, who has been head basketball coach since 1977, is a 1964 Hope graduate and played basketball for DeVette as a Hope student.
DeVette was a member of the Holland City Council for three terms, from 1975 to 1987. His community service through the years has also included coaching and mentoring the Ottawa Hustlers, a basketball team comprised of adults with learning disabilities; Meals on Wheels; Everegreen Day Health; teaching English as a second language with Community Education; The Bridge Store; and serving on the board of Camp Geneva. He and Doris are members of Christ Memorial Church.
He and Doris have six children: Christi Hayden, Lynne Bouvea, Joel, Steve, Kurt and Lisa Werley.