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  Trio of Knoesters standout at Calvin

The "k" in Knight is silent. The "k" in Knoester, however, is not. It stands alone as the first syllable in that three-syllable surname. Fitting then that this past school year a trio of Knoesters stood out on three Calvin College athletic teams, their play ensuring that, despite quiet personalities, they were not silent.

All three Knoesters are cousins via their fathers, a trio of Knoester brothers who are Calvin alumni. Rachel Knoester hails from Holland and is the daughter of John Knoester Sr. Ben Knoester is from Grand Rapids and the son of Bill Knoester. And Peter Knoester is also from Grand Rapids and the son of Arie Knoester. All three Knoester brothers are teachers and have always impressed upon their children the importance of education. They also encouraged their children's athletic pursuits.

In fact, Rachel and Ben followed in the footsteps of older brothers in earning varsity letters at Calvin. Rachel, a Holland Christian graduate, is a tennis player like her older brother John, who earned four straight All-MIAA first-team berths while at Calvin. Ben, too, played tennis for Calvin, although in high school, at Grand Rapids Christian, he played soccer, basketball and tennis. His older brother Chris was a superb basketball player for Calvin and a member of the 1992 National Championship team. Peter, a multi-sport athlete at Grand Rapids Christian who now is a soccer player at Calvin, will see a younger brother follow in his footsteps next year when Jeremy Knoester comes to Calvin after a standout athletic career at Grand Rapids Christian.

While each of the Knoesters enjoys the Calvin family ties, each is quick to point out that familiarity does not always breed content and that each wanted to carve an identity of their own at Calvin.

Ben Knoester, a junior, is eight years behind older sibling Chris at Calvin. That age gap actually was a plus in his decision to come to Calvin.

"I did not want to go to Calvin and be known only as Chris' younger brother," he said. "I wanted to be my own person with my own identity. " Knoester, who played No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles for Calvin's third-place crew this year, admits that Calvin's combination of strong academics and athletics was a big draw for him. "I was a three-sport letter winner in high school," he said, "and the thought of not competing in organized sports scared me to death. I also was attracted to Calvin for the quality of education I knew I was going to receive."

He added: "The thing that didn't attract me to Calvin was the fact that so many people from (Grand Rapids) Christian come to Calvin. However, I found that once you get to college, high school relationships live or die at Calvin just like they would at any school."

His thoughts are shared by Rachel and Peter.

Rachel, who played No. 6 singles and No. 2 doubles for Calvin's second-place MIAA squad, said she chose Calvin because she "wanted to go to a good Christian college." She said: "I liked Calvin because of the size, the dorm life and the many opportunities to get involved. Also, as a religion major, I really liked the religion department."

For Peter it was family familiarity and a summer program called Entrada that cemented his belief in Calvin. Entrada is a program for ethnic minority high school students which sees high school juniors and seniors come to Calvin for a three-week summer school session. During that time the students live in the residence halls, with RAs, eat in the dining halls, study in the library, hang out in the coffee shop, hoop in the gym and more. In short they get a true taste of what college is all about. For Peter the experience was an eye-opener.

"It was nice wake-up call," he said now. "I got a chance to see how hard college really was."

Cousin Chris' experiences also were a plus for Peter. "I saw what Chris was able to do with his basketball career at Calvin," he said, "but then I also watched him go on to graduate school at Penn State and have success there. It reinforced to me that the Calvin name on a degree really does make a difference."

That academic edge was a significant factor for Peter, an All-MIAA honoree who is pre-med. "Some of my classes conflict with soccer practice," he said, "but coach (Dave VerMerris) is very understanding. His philosophy is that academics come first." Peter, a Spanish major, hopes someday to parlay his two areas of study into a practice that caters to a Spanish-speaking population. He's interested in perhaps pursuing pediatrics and then, "after the kids are out of the house," spending some time as a medical missionary.

That desire to help is something that all three Knoesters, despite differing career goals, share.

Rachel is a religion and Spanish major for secondary education who hopes to teach Spanish or religion in a high school, making a difference in the lives of young people. Ben is an economics major who hopes to work in the financial world someday, "helping people with their finances."

For now each Knoester continues to combine academics and athletics, while pointing to eventual careers. Chances are wherever the trio ends up their actions will again not be silent.

—By Phil de Haan


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