HOLLAND -- The Hope College men's basketball team will combine their love for the game with a desire to be of service when it takes an 11-day trip to Mexico beginning Friday, June 24. The team will return on July 4.
Coach Glenn Van Wieren will be taking a team on an international trip for the sixth time in his 28-year career. In 1980 the men's basketball squad became the first Hope athletic team to travel abroad when Van Wieren took his players to Mexico. This year's trip will be the team's fourth venture to Mexico. He has also taken his teams to Sweden (1994) and the Netherlands (1998). They were last in Mexico in 2001.
The team will be hosted by Gov. Pablo Salazar of the state of Chiapas, Mexico. There will also be a work experience coordinated by Dr. Vern Vern Sterk, a Hope alumnus who has served nearly 40 years as a Reformed Church in America missionary in Chiapas. Rev. Sterk and his wife Karla have also been the team's hosts on their previous trips to Mexico.
"Gov. Salazar and the people of Chiapas have always enthusiastically welcomed the spirit of competition, our volunteering mission work and the positive role model attitudes the Hope team has brought as ambassadors to Chiapas," said Van Wieren. "The people of Mexico have a great love of basketball and have generated great respect for the Hope basketball team over the past many years."
The trip will include four games versus college/semi-pro teams in the cities of Palenque, Comitan, Tuxtla Gutierrez and San Cristobal. The trip will include homestays in the communities where the games are to be played.
The team will assist in building a church with Tzotzil Indian Christians of the Zinacanteco tribe. Their specific work will be assisting in the construction of a roof and pouring a cement floor. "This will be a highlight for all of us -- a rich opportunity to give of ourselves for the betterment of others," said VanWieren.
The team and staff will also be putting on a basketball clinic for players and coaches of San Cristobal.
The Hope contingent traveling to Mexico will consist of players from last year's team will be returning next season. They include senior Jeff Carlson of Holland (Holland HS), junior Stephen Cramer of Akron (Unionville-Sebewaing HS), sophomore Jay Creighton of Owosso (Owosso HS), junior Travis Dyke of Allendale (Allendale HS),
sophomore Scott Glaser of Ann Arbor (Lenawee Christian HS), senior Greg Immink of Hudsonville (Hudsonville HS), junior Brett Jager of Kalamazoo (Kalamazoo Christian HS), junior Peter Overbeek of Holland (Holland Christian HS), senior Andy Phillips of White Pigeon (Sturgis HS), sophomore Ryan Rademaker of Montague (Montague HS), senior Eric Voisin of Suttons Bay (Suttons Bay HS), and junior Patrick Woolpert of Jenison (Jenison HS). They will be joined by student assistant Mike Aldrich of Okemos (Okemos HS). Assistant coaches Tom Davelaar and Matt Neil will accompany the team.