Calvin College

John Vander Ark receives Beré Memorial Award

Senior John Vander Ark is very appreciative of the opportunity to give 100 percent to both athletics and academics at Calvin.

"You don't participate in sports at the expense of academics," said the Holland Christian graduate. "At Calvin you are able to do both."

Certainly, that has been the case for Vander Ark, who graduated with a 3.9 G.P.A. and is headed to Harvard Law School this fall. He also played No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles for the tennis team this spring.

"I knew that I really wanted to play tennis, but I was also looking for a school with a good academic reputation," he said. "Calvin offered a good blend of academics and athletics," he said.

While the tennis team didn't win the conference or champion their division, Vander Ark felt satisfied about competing against the best. "We played nine of the top 25 teams in the country," he said. The team tied for second in the MIAA this year.

Individually, however, Vander Ark was singled out for his achievements. He was awarded the Lawrence Green Scholarship Award by the MIAA for his tennis and academic abilities. He was also honored with Calvin's Beré Memorial Award, given annually to the male student-athlete who best exemplifies academics, athletics, sportsmanship and character.

"Tennis was much more than just swinging the racquet for me," said Vander Ark. "Some of my closet relationships have developed because of tennis."

Vander Ark also believes that being involved in sports is a great paradigm for life. "It has taught me about success and failure, winning and losing gracefully and having the losses motivate me to work harded in the future," he said. "I think the level to which I pushed myself in tennis has helped me attain goals outside of athletics."

Vander Ark believes that will help in the future as well as he has set long-range career goals for himself. After law school he would also like to pursue his MBA and eventually get into politics. "I would like to rise in the ranks of the democratic party," he said.

For now, though, he is concentrating on the work ahead of him at Harvard. "I feel that where I go and what I do there can help people from Calvin who follow after me, just as those who have gone before me have helped me," he said. "There are Calvin graduates who have gone to Harvard and done quite well there and I feel like that was an advantage for me."