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"Hang in there. You'll be surprised what you can do when necessary."—Class of '52 


Growing New Leaders

A star goalie and a future Navy officer, Matt Thelen is a true defender.

A four-year starter in goal for the Calvin men's soccer team, Thelen made a definite impact during his collegiate career, ranking third on the all-time Calvin list for goaltender victories.

"I really enjoyed the time I put into [soccer] and I think that has been the key," said Thelen.

A Grand Haven native, Thelen began his soccer career while in the sixth grade, playing at the local YMCA. He did not begin playing goalie until he was in ninth grade, and it was admiration that put him there. "My brother (Jeremy) used to play goalie…and I really looked up to him, so I began to play," he said.

Though Thelen has found considerable success with the game of soccer, not all his ambitions are found in nets. A mechanical engineering major, Thelen joined the United States Navy after graduating from Calvin in May, in order to become a nuclear propulsions officer. His vision is to be able to work on submarines.

Despite world events having direct implications on the United States military, Thelen's plans remain the same. How's that for a defender's composure?

Dangerous situations aren't new to Thelen. During his junior year at Grand Haven High School, he was severely injured during a game, as an opponent's cleat hit the back of his head, chipping off an earlobe and severing one of the arteries in his neck. Although it took more than 50 stitches to close the gash and reattach the lobe, Thelen recovered without any long-term damage.

A courageous Thelen went back to the field playing with a soft shell helmet. "The helmet actually gave me confidence, and I can tell you that I do not hesitate in going down after a ball," he said. Thelen said he now considers the incident just one more experience in his foundation for the future.

In spite of his rigorous demands as a mechanical engineering major and soccer player at Calvin, Thelen maintained a 3.2 grade point average. "He exemplifies the idea of a student-athlete we have here at Calvin," said Coach Dave VerMerris.

When asked what he has gained through four years at Calvin, Thelen said Calvin gave him the foundations he needed to spring up and do new things. "I have also learned leadership and the importance of team work," he said. "I have great memories, but I see much more ahead… hopefully I'll say that all my life. As for my long term personal plans, I want to make an influence wherever the Lord takes me."


Matt Thelen
Matt Thelen
The fall student mixer, called the Soup Bowl, in 1941.
The fall student mixer, called the Soup Bowl, in 1941.
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