posted April 9, 2013

2012-13 Winter Sports Season in Review

 The 2012-13 winter sports season at Hope was highlighted by team successes, individual accomplishments and coaching milestones.

Highlighting the season was the play of the women’s basketball team. The Flying Dutch were ranked nationally the entire season and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III championship.

A club sport at Hope, ice hockey continued a tradition of excellence by advancing to the semi-final game of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) national tournament. Senior Chris Kunnen of Des Moines, Iowa, was voted the ACHA national player of the year.

Two coaches, Brian Morehouse ’91 in women’s basketball and Chris Van Timmeren ’97 in hockey, achieved victory milestones. With his team winning a conference championship for the 11th time in 17 years, Morehouse is the second winningest coach in NCAA Division III women’s basketball. The team’s 29-2 season record put him at 426-70 over his career. Van Timmeren over his 13 seasons as coach of the hockey team has a 301-92-12 record.

The coaching of Hope’s winter sports teams were definitely family affairs. Brian Morehouse was assisted in women’s basketball by his father, Dean; Chris Van Timmeren’s assistant was his brother, Scott ’03, and in men’s basketball coach Matt Neil ’82 was assisted by his son, Logan ’12.

The men’s basketball team overcame early season challenges with a strong finish to end second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) race and advance to the championship game of the conference race. The Flying Dutchmen posted an 18-9 season record.

The women’s basketball team went undefeated on their home floor with a 17-0 record. They ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 44.9 points per game. A sharp-shooting sophomore guard, Brittany Berry of Grand Rapids, Mich., led the nation in three-point shooting accuracy at .512. Her average topped all NCAA women’s basketball players in every division. Senior teammate Liz Ellis of East Grand Rapids, Mich., was voted the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year a third consecutive year. She and teammate Courtney Kust of Cincinnati, Ohio, received All-MIAA first team and All-Region honors.

In swimming, senior Libby Westrate of Grandville, Mich., was voted the MIAA’s most valuable female swimmer for the second consecutive year. Hope’s all-time record holder in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle, Westrate was a four-time All-MIAA honoree.

In men’s basketball, senior forward Nate Snuggerud of Zeeland, Mich., was named to the All-MIAA first team. He led the team in scoring and rebounding as both a junior and senior, and finished his career on the Hope all-time scoring honor roll in 13th place with 1,366 points.

Hope’s thrilling 73-70 home court victory on February 9 over rival Calvin gained at least three new fans. In attendance were Dr. John Knapp, his wife Kelly and son Ronnie. They were in Holland at the invitation of Hope’s Presidential Search Committee and joined fans in the filled DeVos Fieldhouse for their first game in The Rivalry. On Monday, March 25, Dr. Knapp was named the 12th president of Hope College effective Monday, July 1.

Nine members of the swimming and diving teams received All-MIAA honors. Joining Libby Westrate as a four-time all-leaguer was senior Josh Grabijas of Howell, Mich. Honored for a third consecutive year was junior Nick Hazekamp of Janesville, Wis., while senior Erin Holstad of Traverse City, Mich., was a first-time honoree.

Five Flying Dutch are among a league-record 11 freshmen to be honored: Hannah Larson of Jackson, Mich.; Klare Northuis of Holland, Mich.; Sarah Sheridan of Richmond, Ind.; Jorgie Watson of Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Lindsay Wiederhold of Plainwell, Mich.

Four swimmers qualified for the NCAA Division III championships and competed in seven events. Achieving honorable mention recognition in the 400-yard freestyle relay were Hannah Larson, Klare Northuis, Libby Westrate and sophomore Luisa Burgess of Pittsburgh, Pa.

While considered a spring sport, collegiate lacrosse made its debut at Hope with snow still on the ground. The Flying Dutchmen won their first five games, while the Flying Dutch celebrated their first home game with a 22-1 victory. The lacrosse teams are coached by Hope alums Michael Schanhals ’92 and Tracy Benjamin ’09.