Faith-centered basketball coach Vande Streek retires after 23 years

Coach Vande Streek stressed the importance of Christian faith in his player's lives.

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Coach Vande Streek stressed the importance of Christian faith in his player's lives.

In 1996, before most current Calvin students were born, Calvin named Kevin Vande Streek as the new head coach of Calvin’s men’s basketball team. Now, 23 years and 435 wins later, Vande Streek is retiring from the position. Even though his win total is the highest in Calvin men’s basketball history, Vande Streek’s Christian faith is what stands out most to his former players.

2015 graduate and Calvin basketball great Jordan Brink fondly remembers Vande Streek’s commitment to his faith.

“Coach Vande Streek always pushed us, both on and off the floor,” said Brink. “While it was clear he cared about winning and getting his teams to click on all cylinders come late February and March, his desire for his players to become better Christian men and leaders was even more important. He saw the potential in his players both individually and collectively and wasn’t afraid to hold us to a higher standard than we had set for ourselves.”

Even though he only played under Vande Streek for two seasons, sophomore Forrest Bouyer could see the importance the former coach placed on his players’ relationships with God.

“I could tell he cared about each and every one of us, not only as players and individuals, but as fellow Christians as well,” Bouyer said “He was always asking about our faith and if we’re going to church and if we’re getting daily devotionals. [He was] just always curious to know if we’re still keeping interaction with God.”

“He just wanted to see his players succeed, not only on the basketball court but in Christ as well,” remembers Bouyer.

For Vande Streek, coaching basketball was about much more than the game.

“I tried to help young men grow in their faith using basketball as the way into their lives,” said Vande Streek. “My helping them grow also helped me grow.”

The Christian faith that Vande Streek holds wasn’t exclusively shown to basketball players during his time as head coach. Vande Streek wrote three devotionals while coaching, all meant for athletes and their families.

“Lasting Victory: Meditations for Students, Athletes, Coaches, and Those Who Cheer Them On,” written by Vande Streek and former Calvin chaplain Dale J. Cooper, was published in 2002, after Vande Streek’s sixth season as head coach.

Vande Streek’s second devotional, “Strong and Courageous: Joshua’s Lessons for Athletes (and the Cheering Section),” was written with Calvin Professor Emeritus of German, Wally Bratt. Released in 2011, the book relates passages from the book of Joshua to the trials that modern day athletes face.

The most recent Vande Streek devotional, published in 2017 and called “Time Out! Sport-themed Devotionals for Younger Athletes,” targets a younger, elementary school audience.

When asked why he felt it was important to author three devotionals, Vande Streek responded:

“I wrote [the devotionals] thinking that faith development is the most important aspect for any of us and used athletics as the carrot to draw the audience in. Also I wrote them to help understand how we should keep athletics in the proper perspective, and even that in sport we are called to honor God in how and why we play.”

Though Vande Streek set Calvin men’s records for longest run as head coach and most career wins, and won a national championship in the 1999-2000 season, his Christian faith is likely what will keep him in the minds of his former players and fans for years to come.

Vande Streek will continue his role as a professor and administrator at Calvin.