Calvin athletics stands sixth in Learfield Sports Director’s Cup


Photo courtesy Calvin SID

Calvin College athletics currently stands in sixth in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup standings after the fall scores were released. Calvin looks to hold onto a streak that only five other schools in the division can claim.

“Calvin is one of only six Division III schools to have been in the Top 25 every year [the competition] has been held, since 1995-1996,” said sports information director Jeff Febus.

Learfield Sports sponsors the competition put on by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, which ranks schools by their performance in their respective divisions against national competitors.

Febus explained how the scoring works: “In short, a school can score points through placement in NCAA III Championships competition. It could be an individual scoring at the track or swimming nationals, or soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross-country scoring at their NCAA III Championships, etc.”

According to athletic directors Nancy Meyer and Jim Timmer, this streak is a mark of broad-based success in the athletic department.

“We don’t spend much time talking about [the cup], but it is good peer pressure,” said Dr. Timmer. “It is peer pressure in that teams want to be the ones getting points towards the cup.”

Although the cup itself is not the end goal, standings do provide some insight in regards to the quality of athletics at Calvin.

“We think it is a meaningful mark of athletic success; it is a mark of excellence,” Dr. Meyer reflected.

She continued, saying, “We make it aspirational for the teams who haven’t made it there yet. Your aspirational goal is to get to the post-season, and once they get to the post-season, the aspiration is to go deeper.”

The cup also provides an opportunity for reflection on what purpose athletics at Calvin serve. Both Dr. Meyer and Dr. Timmer acknowledged that balance is a key component. Finding the balance between competing on the field and living a holistic life off the field would seem to be part of Calvin’s mission.

“We are going to try to do really well within the parameters of the college in terms of the balance between athletics, academics and faith,” said Dr. Timmer. “We try to tell our athletes [they] are resourced enough. If [they] try hard enough, we can win here.”

Some of Calvin’s top competitors are schools like Massachusetts Institute of Technology at first, Williams at second, John Hopkins at fourth, and Tufts at fifth.

“Division III is [unique] because it is very regional … This cup is our only measure against our national competition,” said Dr. Timmer.

“Christopher Newport and Calvin are the smaller, private schools in the top nine right now,” added Dr. Meyer.

Some schools have a reputation for being an elite competitor at a certain sport, but Calvin’s focus allows for teams to pursue excellence in all fields. “We think that’s your calling to use your gifts to the best of your ability, your God-given gifts,” said Dr. Meyer. “If you have a God-given gift to be an athlete, we want to help you reach your potential.”