The journey of Hope's fall sports teams followed many paths.
For several it was a path to significant accomplishment and glory.
For the football team, for example, the journey began on a hot summer afternoon in the city of Queretaro, Mexico and ended many months later on the snow-covered tundra of Holland Municipal Stadium. The Flying Dutchmen won their first outright Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championship in 14 years and gained a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
It was one of three MIAA championships for Hope fall sports teams. The men's golf team successfully defended its league title while the volleyball team took the top prize for the third time in four seasons. The volleyball team also gained a spot in the NCAA championships.
The women's golf and men's cross country teams finished second; the men's soccer and women's cross country teams were third, and the women's soccer team ended fifth.
The cumulative result was Hope gaining the lead after the fall sports season in the MIAA all-sports standings. Already the winner of a league record 22 all-sports championships (now known as the Commissioner's Cup), Hope teams amassed 84 all-sports points during the fall season followed by Albion 68, Calvin 66, Alma and Kalamazoo 56 each, Adrian 24 and Olivet 22.
Hope athletes were named the most valuable in three fall sports -- senior J.D. Graves in football, senior Aaron Vandenberg in men's golf and freshman Lacey Wicksall in women's golf.
Last June the football team took its first international trip playing an exhibition game against the team from the Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico. The game was played in the sweltering heat of a summer afternoon.
Five months later, the Flying Dutchmen were still on a football field, playing in an NCAA playoff game in a driving snowstorm that by game's end had obliterated the yard markers. The playoff journey was a short one as the Dutchmen were defeated by Hanover, Ind., 20-3.
In between, Hope football fans celebrated an eight game winning streak and undefeated conference season. The Dutchmen ended the 23rd ranked team in all of Division III football posting an 8-2 overall record.
It was Hope's third league championship in four years, but the first outright title since 1986. And Hope's 14 senior players had the distinction of becoming just the fifth senior class in the 91-year history of Hope football to accomplish the feat of playing on three championship teams.
Quarterback J.D. Graves of Troy, Mich. became the first player in the history of MIAA football to win most valuable player accolades in consecutive years. The MIAA has presented MVP awards since 1938. He was also extended an invitation to play in the Aztec Bowl, a post-season allstar game for outstanding Division III players, in December.
The Flying Dutchmen placed a total of 15 players on the coaches' All-MIAA teams. First team honorees included junior offensive tackle Bill Crane of Cedar Springs, Mich., sophomore center Josh Rumpsa of Grand Rapids, Mich., senior tight end Jim Lamb of Mattawan, Mich., senior receiver Brian Adloff of East Grand Rapids, Mich., senior running back Adam Magers of Battle Creek, Mich., senior quarterback J.D. Graves of Troy, Mich., sophomore defensive end Ryan Kerstetter of Kentwood, Mich., senior linebacker Matt Bride of Petoskey, Mich., and sophomore punter Vince Scheffler of Chelsea, Mich. Adloff has been named to the All-MIAA first team for three years, twice as a tight end and this year as a receiver. He became Hope's all-time leading receiver ammassing 139 catches for 1,658 yards.
Voted to the All-MIAA second team were junior offensive tackle Nick Kunnen of Muskegon, Mich., senior fullback Scott Langlois of Hopkins, Mich., sophomore defensive lineman Andy Keller of Hastings, Mich., senior linebacker Kevin Kudej of Mount Morris, Mich., and sophomore linebacker Josh Baumbach of Wyoming, Mich.
The league medalist and most valuable player in both MIAA men's and women's golf came from Hope College.
Senior Aaron Vandenberg of Holland, Mich. led the Flying Dutchmen to their second consecutive conference championship while freshman Lacey Wicksall of Traverse City, Mich. marked her collegiate debut by topping the MIAA women's player standings.
Hope placed four players on the All-MIAA men's golf teams. Joining Aaron Vandenberg on the first team were sophomore Everett Leonard of Kalamazoo, Mich., and junior Eric Wohlfield of Brighton, Mich. Wohlfield, who finished runnerup in league standings, achieved first team status for a third straight year while Vandenberg was honored for the second time. Named to the All-MIAA second team was freshman Jeff Melville of Grandville, Mich.
The Flying Dutch placed two players on the All-MIAA women's golf teams. Lacey Wicksall was the only first team honoree while achieving second team recognition was junior Emily Thielk of Ann Arbor, Mich.
Senior Joe Veldman of Sawyer, Mich. qualified for the NCAA Division III national championships qualifying as individual after finishing 13th at the Great Lakes Regional meet. He ended 45th in a field of 213 runners at nationals.
Eight Hope runners were afforded All-MIAA distinction. Joining Veldman on the first team were senior Garett Childs of Breckenridge, Mich., senior Jennifer Ernst of Westerville, Ohio, and junior Dylan Wade of Beulah, Mich. Veldman and Wade were honored for the third year while Ernst was named for a second time. Second team All-MIAA runners were senior Fred Herschelman of Ortonville, Ohio, freshman Donavon Hornbeck of Ovid, Mich., sophomore Kristen Post of Holland, Mich., Mich. and junior Sarah Schripsema of Kalamazoo, Mich.
The soccer teams placed seven players on the All-MIAA teams. First team honorees in men's soccer were freshman midfielder Ed Huebner of Portage, Mich., sophomore back Matt Margaron of Naperville, Ill. and sophomore goalkeeper Marcus Voss of Zeeland, Mich. Junior forward Tim Keeler and junior back Jon Kucinski, both from Portage, Mich., were second team selections.
In women's soccer, junior Liz Dornbos of Vicksburg, Mich. was named to the All-MIAA first team while junior midfielder Emilie Dirkse of Holland, Mich. was a second team honoree.
The Flying Dutch topped the regular season MIAA standings, captured the championship of the conference with their third victory of the year over rival Calvin and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Coach Maureen Dunn's Dutch posted a 31-8 record, marking the third best single season mark in school history. In four seasons under coach Dunn the Dutch have posted an impressive 110-38 overall record, including 47-3 in conference play.
The Dutch placed four players on the All-MIAA teams. First team honorees were senior Amy Brower of Hamilton, Mich., senior Kim Grotenhuis of Hamilton, Mich., and sophomore Laura Hahnfeld of Midland, Mich. while named to the second team was senior Jennifer Gerig of Montague, Mich. Brower and Hahnfeld were also named to the All-Region Division III team by the volleyball coaches association.
Brower and Grotenhuis were also recognized for excellence in the classroom as they were named to the Verizon district academic team and became eligible for Academic All-America consideration.