Calvin alum named women’s basketball head coach

The womens basketball team finished 12-14 under two different head coaches this season.

Photo courtesy of

The women’s basketball team finished 12-14 under two different head coaches this season.

With the sudden resignation of the women’s head basketball coach, the athletic department searched for months to hire a new head coach. Recently, Calvin chose to hire Mark Christner as the new women’s basketball head coach.

Christner is a former Calvin student and also former assistant coach for the women’s team and former junior varsity coach for the men’s team under Dr. Kim Gall and Coach Vande Streek, and hopes to succeed where the former coached lacked.

His time at Calvin has helped shape his view of basketball and life as a whole. He expressed great gratitude working under two renowned coaches at Calvin, Coach Vande Streek and Dr. Kim Gall, as they both helped him understand the “opportunity to glorify God through team competition” that he is sure to instill into his new players. He expressed how one can glorify God through their time with the team, as “that’s displayed in a personal approach to practice regardless of how many minutes someone plays in the game.” He elaborates, “It’s the ability to have tough conversations to raise the bar of team expectations. My coaching philosophy is rooted in many of the things I’ve learned in my earlier time at Calvin.”

He is very excited to welcome this new challenge, and hopes the team can forget about the hardships from the previous year and move on “with a fresh start and clear eyes,” as expressed by Christner.

When speaking on his excitement with growing this team he stated some of his expectations as he said, “Young, old, it doesn’t matter as much as how coachable are you? How hungry are you? Will your mentality create a working spirit of improvement?”

With the majority of the team this year being freshman and sophomores, having a coach who is a confident leader that can relate to the players is imperative, and Christner is excited to have the opportunity lead this team.

Facing new challenges is not something new for Christner, as in 2010 he accepted the head coaching job of the men’s basketball team at Waynesburg University, a small Division III team in Pennsylvania. This was not an easy job to transition into as the team went 2-22 the season before Christner arrived. Despite the seemingly daunting task, Christner felt that he and his staff worked hard to “restore a culture of hard work, camaraderie, and success,” which is something he wishes to bring to Calvin, who had a losing record the previous season.

With last years struggles, particularly in conference play as the team went 7-9, coach understands that “we have a lot of catching up to do with some of the other teams in the MIAA,” but hopes to establish Calvin as a contender in the division for many years, which can in turn create a new environment for Calvin surrounding the women’s basketball team that can increase excitement and the spirit of the program.