Springing into the new sports season


Photo courtesy by Megan Gilbert

Women’s lacrosse’s games are just around the corner.

With the winter slowly melting away and Michigan’s spring weather ever so confusing, there is one continuous thing all sport fans can count on: the kickoff of Calvin’s spring sports. Baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse and tennis teams all are excited for the start of their season and each team has their own expectations for how things will go.


“We have an outstanding group of men that will represent Calvin University both on and off the field,” Baseball Coach Kevin Van Duyn said. Van Duyn has been involved in Calvin athletics for 30 years, either as an administrator of sports or head baseball coach, a role he took on four years ago. The baseball team plans on starting their season strong during their spring break trip to Florida. But their plans do not stop there; Van Duyn said he is looking forward to “individual improvement and team improvement throughout the season.” Calvin’s baseball has scheduled their first 17 games away from campus. Their first home game is March 26 against the Anderson Ravens.


Tennis is another team ready to start their season. Calvin’s men’s and women’s tennis teams are both headed up by Coach John Ross. “Myself and my coaching staff are extremely excited to work with this talented and humble group of young women,” Ross said. Ross told Chimes he is ready to compete with the other schools such as Hope college who is the “strongest team in our conference as they are loaded with talent.” and other schools such as Kalamazoo, Trine and Saint Mary’s. The women’s tennis team has goals to work on their “mental toughness,” as well as “continue to develop self confidence both on and off the court.” To achieve this goal, their practices focus on groundstrokes, volley and serve placements, and match simulation games.

Both tennis teams are ready to compete this spring. (Photo from Calvinknights.com)

Calvin’s men’s tennis team also shows promise but they have a different area to work on: maturity, according to Ross. “With no juniors or seniors on our roster, we need to mature quickly and be strong mentally on the tennis court,” Ross says. Men’s tennis team is working hard to overcome this quickly by starting with six scheduled matches over spring break in Orlando, Florida. In men’s tennis, according to Ross, their toughest team in the conference is Kalamazoo. “They have a long successful history of men’s tennis and they by far have the most talent of any team in our conference,” he said. To prepare for their matches, the men’s practices consist of “fitness, match play, singles and doubles strategy drills, along with fundamental stroke techniques,” Ross said. The men’s first home match is March 19 against Bethel, and the women’s first home match is March 16 against Grace Christian.

Track and field

Track and field is another one of the spring sports that will be continuing after a strong winter season. Coach Bret Otte is the head coach of track and field. He started coaching in 1990, including important names such as Canadian National Champions, International level athletes, Numerous NCAA All-Americans and National Champions, NCAA D1, NAIA, and now for Calvin University.

 “I like coaching genuine people that relish taking calculated risks in practice and competition,” Otte said. According to him, the “entire conference is challenging and there are no easy wins.” Otte is aware of the challenges they need to overcome to improve. Calvin’s Track and Field team will be focusing “on finding the courage and stamina it takes to take calculated risks and rise to new challenges” as Otte said. Calvin will be hosting their annual Spring Thing Invitational on April 14. 


Thinking of the coming softball season, Coach Rebecca Hilgert said “I am most excited about the group of young women we have in our program. They all want to be coached and want to improve both on and off the field.” This is Hilgert’s ninth year coaching Calvin’s softball team and sixth as head of the softball program. 

“We have the youngest team we’ve ever had with only two seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and nine freshmen,” Hilgert says. “So there has been a bit of a learning curve to get everyone on the same page as far as what it takes to play softball at the collegiate level and at Calvin.” 

Another challenge the softball program faces is the inconvenient snow. “Our first time on dirt will be the day before we start games on spring break, so we must have the mindset of just going out and playing softball and not focusing on how little time we’ve had on our normal playing surface prior,” she said. Like all other spring sports, the softball team has been practicing indoors due to the weather. “This is part of softball in the Midwest,” Hilgert said. To accommodate, the softball team tries to “make the most of every practice” by doing the best they can to simulate “game situations and practice at game speed.” Their first home game is March 4 against Rosemont.


The final spring sport ready to start their season is men and women’s lacrosse. Maddie Brown, one of the women’s lacrosse captains, was excited to return to play with her teammates. “I am looking forward to bus trips and spring break the most,” Brown said. For Brown, the most important part of the sport is developing relationships with her teammates. 

Megan Gilbert, another captain of the lacrosse team, is looking forward to the same experience while also being ready to compete.. “I think that Hope will be our toughest game this season,” Gilbert said. “They are a very good team with great lacrosse IQ.” According to Brown, while Hope College is the “obvious answer“ due to the rivalry, which leads to “More things are said on the field and more elbows are thrown than in other games,” St. Mary and Albion are also hard teams to compete against. The women’s first game is March 9 against Concordia, while the men’s first home game is March 19 against Lake Forest.

In the midst of challenge games, meets, and matches, every spring team on campus is ready to show the MIAA what true Calvin spirit is.