hoops memorable for Josh Vriesman
By Lynn Bolt Rosendale
Four years ago, Josh Vriesman didn’t know what he was in for. Now, looking back, the 2005 Calvin graduate almost wishes he had it all to do over again.
“I thank God for what I experienced,” said Vriesman. “Calvin is a special place.”
Particularly memorable to Vriesman are the learning experiences he was afforded on the basketball court and the baseball field.
Coming to Calvin as an all-state high school athlete from Denver Christian, Vriesman knew he would have the opportunity to do a lot of things.
“I didn’t expect the kind of success I had,” he said, “but I was brought up with it. I was determined to find out what steps were necessary to put myself in a position to succeed. That’s something I learned from my high school coaches, and I tried to apply it here.”
A four-year starter for the Calvin baseball team and an All-MIAA first team honoree as a freshman, Vriesman admitted to experiencing many ups and downs with the team.
Winning the conference championship three years ago and then finishing sixth each of the last two years was challenging, he said.
The team was able to rebound with a third-place finish this year, which was a satisfactory way to end his college career, he said. “It’s been fun to see the team turn around.”
During the season the senior shortstop also set the Calvin record for hits in a career with 153.
“I’m a different kind of hitter,” said Vriesman. “I just hit the ball and see what happens with it. It helps because I’m usually near the top of the line-up, and I like to swing.”
Despite his personal successes in baseball, it’s the team success in basketball that is the highlight of his athletic career at Calvin, he said.
A junior varsity basketball player as a freshman, Vriesman decided to sit out his sophomore year to concentrate on baseball.
He decided to give basketball another try as a junior. “I wanted to contribute in any way I could, whether that meant ever stepping foot on the court during a game or not,” he said. “I told Coach [Vande Streek] that it was his decision; if he thought I could contribute to the team’s success, then I wanted to be there.”
It turned out to be one of the most challenging yet rewarding situations in Vriesman’s career.
Playing very little as a junior and facing the same circumstance as a senior, Vriesman felt he became a stronger person because of his ability to relate to other players who were not getting much playing time.
“Every day I got to step on the court after that was such a blessing,” he said. “It was so much sweeter, and by the end of the year I was doing a pretty decent job.”
In fact, Vriesman filled the critical role of the back-up point guard for the Knights, who finished third in the nation following their long tournament run.
These learning experiences, along with the academic, social and spiritual opportunities are “the package” Vriesman is happy to be walking away with.
A business major, Vriesman moved to the east side of Michigan to work for Bolthouse Farms immediately after graduation. He hopes to return to Calvin to see his brother, Jacob, as a Knight next year.
“God’s hand has been very evident in my life,” said Vriesman. “I’m so happy to know my brother will have the opportunities that I had. I’m afraid to think about the person I would have been if I had made the decision to go somewhere else.”
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