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Senior sticks with soccer for the love of the game
By Jeff Febus
Dana Haan
Dana Haan (Lynden, Wash.)

Ask senior Dana Haan to sum up her experience on the Calvin women’s soccer team, and four years become a flood of words. But the message is simple: “Challenging, but worth the challenge,” Haan said. “It was a lot of fun, and we’ve had a lot of success.”

Haan has been a starter since the middle of her freshman year — as a striker in her first year, and later as a midfielder under the tutelage of coach Mark Recker. During her career the women’s soccer team has finished second in the MIAA twice, and third twice. A tie in the last regular season game this fall robbed Haan and her teammates of what could have been her most successful season — an MIAA co-championship with Hope and a shot at the NCAA Division III national championship tournament.

However, that’s not the part of the game Haan chooses to dwell on — the what-ifs. The Lynden (Wash.) Christian High School graduate plays for fun and fellowship, she plays for the challenges, and she plays because God has given her the talents to do so. That’s in part, she said, because of the way Recker coaches the team to play.

“[Recker] encouraged us to have fun playing and to balance it with school and life and even faith,” Haan said. “He encouraged us to focus on the fact that God has given us the talents to play and that we should play for him and not ourselves, or our self-portrayal.

“I get out on the field, and I love the challenge of having to prove yourself, knowing that there is a goal that you want to meet,” she said. “Our goal was obviously to win the conference, and we ended up in second place by a point [in the standings], but having the goal as a team and working toward it in that social atmosphere is a great challenge. Getting to know your teammates in that kind of a way is such a blessing.”

Also a great runner, Haan has garnered attention for her athletic feats in track, too. She was named an All-American in track in 2001.

“I always have played soccer for the love of the game,” she said. “I came in to Calvin doing track, too, and I was an All-American here my freshman year as part of a relay team. As much as I was good at that, my heart wasn’t always there. My heart’s always been in soccer, ever since I was six.”

Haan is studying to be a physical education and health teacher, with goals of coaching both soccer and track down the road.

"I came to Calvin because I wanted to do a mix of track and soccer, and Calvin has a great education program, and it’s a Christian school,” she said. “I have found Calvin very challenging and focused on preparing me for entering the real world. The professors have always been willing to help me perform better, giving me feedback on what I’ve done well and also what I need to improve on.”

Playing soccer at the collegiate level has given Haan a leg up, she says. The continual challenges of making the team, keeping her spot and striving for improvement with coaches and teammates have built a determination to succeed and work harder, and the balancing act between sports and school has forced her to develop some organizational skills.

Next year, Haan hopes to use that leg up to pass those skills and that determination on to students of her own.