runs the court
By Lynn Bolt Rosendale
When Chris Prins, as a high school senior, made a list of all the pros and cons for attending Calvin as well as the other colleges he was considering, the pro list for Calvin was a lot longer than all of the others.
“Some of the other schools’ only positive was basketball,” he said. “You do spend a lot of time in basketball, but I wanted college to be more than just that.”
That’s ultimately why the California native chose to travel 2,000 miles from home and pursue basketball and an education at Calvin.
Despite having to abandon driving his car during the winter months because of the ice and snow, Prins has never regretted his decision. “I can’t imagine my life any other way.” Weather, though, probably made the pro list of Long Beach State and some of the other colleges he was looking at, he added.
As a freshman, Prins joined a team that was the defending national champion. “I kind of thought that’s how it was here. Every time I had seen them [Calvin] play, they won.”
Prins, a Calvin Christian High School (Escondido, Calif.) grad, came in and made an immediate impact on the team. “If I remember correctly, in 14 years of college coaching, I’ve had only two players start every game for four years—Jeremy Veenstra and Chris Prins,” said Calvin basketball coach Kevin Vande Streek. “Chris made an impact early on with his intense defense and ability to slash to the basket.”
That year, Calvin won the MIAA tournament and advanced to the NCAA III national tournament, bowing out in the second round.
“That was probably the highlight of my career,” said Prins, prior to winning the MIAA tournament this year. “But back then I didn’t realize how much effort it took to get there. People don’t understand how hard it is to win this conference.”
Both his sophomore and junior year, the team did not make it to the national tournament. Along the way, Prins was named to the All-MIAA first team his sophomore year. He repeated on the list as a senior.
He also became a member of Calvin’s elite 1,000-point club earlier this season, one of only 16 players in Calvin’s history to surpass that mark. He continued to climb the chart, ending his career with 1,355 points, ranked ninth on the Calvin career list.
Individual accolades aside, however, for Prins the excitement has been in the entire Calvin experience.
"Back home, nobody has any idea what the Calvin-Hope game is like,” he said. “It’s crazy. The week of the game you start hearing things about who has their tickets already. Then the day of the game you see this huge line of people waiting for the gym to open so they can get good seats. Then you actually run onto the court; you just don’t know what it’s like until you’ve been there.”
Other experiences also stand out in Prins’ mind. “The trip to California this year was great,” he said. “It was cool to show everybody where I came from.”
Stepping into a leadership role on the team this year was also a life experience for Prins.
“I didn’t really understand what it takes to be a leader until I was put in that situation,” he said. “It’s so extreme. That’s the toughest thing about being a leader. I hate losing, and even after a really bad loss, you have to come back to practice and not let it show at all. You have to be positive and encouraging no matter how disappointed you might be.”
Prins’ positive attitude is one of the attributes Vande Streek most admires in the team co-captain.
“He leads by his example in coachability, work ethic, Christian morals off the floor and in vocal leadership of his teammates,” he said. “Chris is always quick to give a smile and encourage his teammates to have fun. The throngs of fans, including the young ones, will miss his post-game visits, when he’d always come out of the locker room to say ‘hi’ or sign autographs.”
Prins, a business major, will graduate this May and is getting married this summer to Calvin alum Katie Zeilstra.
“We will miss this Christian young man and the example he set representing what we are all about at Calvin,” said Vande Streek.
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