Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Track and Field head coach prioritizes community building

In his second season as head track coach at Calvin, Adam Haldorson and his team of assistant coaches have continued to cultivate a culture of both community and excellence across event groups, grade levels and academic fields through intentional connection, small group team meetings and leadership development opportunities. 

The aim is to have an environment where lifelong relationships can be formed,” Haldorson told Chimes in an email. “One of the most beautiful aspects of sport is that the lines that can divide people are easily broken down and replaced with meaningful connections.” 

During their Tuesday Team meetings, Haldorson breaks the team into mixed small groups with a leader who facilitates conversation in order to cultivate meaningful connections across event groups and grades. 

“After all the team meetings, we’re always praying. We’re talking about our faith together,” junior Koby VanderWoude said. The integration of faith and community has been “cool” to see, he told Chimes

The small group meetings have had a positive impact on the team community. Senior Micah Reyes and VanderWoude met when VanderWoude was placed in the group Reyes was leading; the two became “super close,” VanderWoude said. 

“[Kobe] is, like, my best friend,” Reyes told Chimes. “If Adam didn’t set a culture –– from the get-go, I don’t know if I would have met him. Our circles — we — wouldn’t have crossed paths.” 

Adam’s really helped encourage us to lean into our leadership qualities.

The leaders of the smaller Tuesday groups also participate in what Haldorson calls a “leadership council,” according to Reyes. A group of about 20 to 30 members of the track team gather on Sunday afternoons for a time of mentorship and training as they read and discuss a book about sports and leadership together. During this time, “Adam’s really helped encourage us to lean into our leadership qualities,” Reyes said. 

Building small groups from across the various events has led to members of the team “doing a better job of cheering for each other, even outside of our event groups and events we’re not familiar with,” junior Luke Witvliet said. Knowing more about others’ events isn’t the only factor in the change. “Adam’s a great encourager” and has led by example, Witvliet told Chimes

“When the head coach transition was happening, I think the team already felt his care and his attention,” Reyes said. Haldorson took the time to meet individually with every student on the team and understand their goals and desires, which immediately set a positive direction, according to Reyes. The effort to connect with athletes has not abated. “He really makes an effort to try to get to know every single person outside of track,” VanderWoude told Chimes

Haldorson’s coaching has won him several awards. He worked as an assistant coach at George Fox University for 12 years. While there, he won the National Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year award twice in a row and 13 Regional Assistant Coach of the Year Awards, according to his bio on the George Fox University website. 

However, Haldorson highlighted the team’s effort in building connections.

Seeing that foundation of community being built is extremely encouraging.

The most rewarding part of my short time here at Calvin is how receptive the team has been to build community. Athletes on the team will often go out of their way to find opportunities to spend time with and support each other,” Haldorson told Chimes in an email. “Seeing that foundation of community being built is extremely encouraging.”

Some students are optimistic about what these culture shifts, the new track facility and a bright recruitment outlook will mean for the team. “There’s just momentum behind all of it,” junior Cath Kortman told Chimes, “So I’m really excited to see people grow as athletes, but also just [see] the program [that] will grow in reputation and in community.”

According to Reyes, Haldorson and the rest of the team are looking to recruit students by leaning into the vision of what DIII sports can be — tight-knit, supportive and community-oriented. 

While not all aspects of the head coaching transition have been easy, Kortman told Chimes, “I believe in the program that’s bigger than my four years. And so I’ll take the growing pains to see what it becomes in five or ten years.”

Witvliet and Kortman are optimistic and see the team becoming even more competitive in the coming years. An “MIAA championship for our team is not that many years away,” according to Kortman. 

Regardless of the actual timeline around winning a championship or other tangible achievements, the track team’s “future [is] looking bright” Witvliet told Chimes.  

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