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Calvin Launches Sportsperson's Club
November 3, 2005

At the inaugural meeting of the Calvin Sportsperson’s Club, Glen Blackwood urged his audience to unite around the theme: “What takes you outsdoors?”

Blackwood, a lifetime angler, owner of Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company in Rockford, Michigan and the host of the WGVU program “Fly Fishing with Glen Blackwood,” spoke to the premiere gathering of 16 people about “the fish-ability, the movement and the drag-free drift” accomplished by skilled angler with flies. He spoke about reading a river with “river eyes,” noting fast and slow water, current breaks and river depth.

Mainly, however, Blackwood talked about the tendency of outdoor enthusiasts to split into interest groups centered on fishing, hunting different species of game and birds, kayaking, canoeing and the like.

“We splinter off and find ourselves in this little corner, not accomplishing anything," he said.

He urged the Calvin sportspersons to support each others’ outdoor interests.

“As long as you’re outside, enjoying the bounty of the Lord, and you’re doing it ethically and legally, you’re a sportsperson,” he said.

Blackwood, who teaches a fly fishing course for Calvin’s May Interim, also urged the attendees, who themselves represented a whole range of outdoor interests, to consider their club as “an integral part” of the Calvin community:

“Some of your speakers are going to be a little bit controversial on this campus,” he said, noting particularly that sports involving firearms can be suspect in academia. “I think you need to embrace those discussions.”

Senior Rob Vink, a founder of the group along with seniors Mark Gaiser and Mike Stegink, acknowledged that a sportsperson’s club can be a tough sell on campus.

“We have had mixed reactions but in general there is an interest in what we are doing," he said. "West Michigan is an area that very much caters to the outdoors person. There are many opportunities to fish and hunt in this area. There has always been an interest in this type of club at Calvin but with no one to facilitate that interest.”

All three founding members are avid outdoorsmen, and, fittingly enough, Vink said, the inspiration for the club occurred “during a road trip to Cabelas.”

The organizers are planning future seminars on subjects like deer hunting and ice fishing.

“Our main goal is to provide information and to link students with other students with the same interests,” Vink said.

Because of Calvin’s firearm policy (no weapons of any kind are allowed on the Calvin campus), there are restrictions on the club. The Calvin Sportspersons Club is not allowed to sponsor any activities that require the use of firearms, even when these events are held off campus.

“I think a good number of Calvin students are interested in hunting and fishing. The club gives them a chance to learn about local opportunities and explore new aspects of both sports,” said Evert Van Der Heide, the Calvin economics and business professor who advises the sportspersons club. “There is an educational component to the programs that will be offered, and there is a chance for interested students to talk together about something they enjoy. This is probably a unique opportunity for some to be involved in an activity they enjoy and want to learn more about..”

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson