New coach, familiar territory

Despite a successful coaching past at larger Division II schools, such as Ferris State University and Northern Michigan, Bill Sall has decided to coach at Calvin where he had a successful playing career. While at Calvin, he consistently averaged more than 16 points per game, was a Division III All-American several times, and was a two time MIAA MVP — a clear standout during his time as a player from 1985-1990. 

“Every level has its ups and downs,” Sall said, but despite this, he did not look at this opportunity as a downgrade because he “felt called.” 

He knew this would be an uphill battle here at Calvin because of the team’s recent downfalls, but it is not something that he is unfamiliar with. In his two previous head coaching tenures, he played a vital role in the respective programs’ resurgence. 

“Ferris State University men’s basketball program began its climb back to the top of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) when former assistant coach, Bill Sall, was appointed the program’s 11th head coach prior to the 2002-03 campaign,” with several Division II tournament and regional championship appearances, according to his biography on the Ferris State Bulldogs website

He achieved similar accolades at Northern Michigan as he is said to have “changed the culture of Wildcats men’s basketball program,” that was previously at the bottom of its division, according to Northern Michigan Wildcats website. 

Now he hopes to make similar changes at his alma mater, Calvin University. The excitement level is different for this upcoming challenge considering his history as one of Calvin’s renowned players. The excitement is also coupled with some anxiety.

One of the aspects of this new team that makes Sall nervous is the size of the team, as he joked that “it’s not very good as the head coach when you’re the third tallest guy on the team at 6’4”.” He also mentioned concerns about the depth of the team and the youth and inexperience of the team, but paired with the concerns is the excitement centered around a new challenge. 

 His goal is for Calvin to return to the times when there were several games along the season where “you could hardly even hear inside the gym,” even outside of the Calvin-Hope rivalry games. Connected to this goal is the overarching target of “building a relationship with the student body,” which he says is imperative for the basketball culture as a whole. 

With this new appointment, Sall is working to turn the tide here at Calvin to a more successful program.