advice leads Visker to Calvin
By Phil de Haan
Kurt Visker's on-the-field exploits as a four-year varsity soccer player for the Knights were pretty impressive. One need only to know that at the conclusion of his senior year he was named a Division III first team All-American, becoming the first player in Calvin men's soccer history to earn All-American accolades in back-to-back years.
That heady award came on the heels of a fourth straight All-MIAA berth, a quartet of all-league honors that also included an MIAA Most Valuable Player award. Visker also started four straight years and was a team captain all four years.
But perhaps the most telling statistic from Visker's four years at Calvin was the team's overall won-loss record during his tenure. From 2002-2005 (Visker's freshman through senior seasons), Calvin compiled a mark of 61-19-4 (winning 74.2 percent of its games). That run included two MIAA titles and two trips to the NCAA III Tournament.
Yet while all of that is important to Visker, the soft-spoken psychology major came to Calvin four years ago (as an even more soft-spoken freshman) looking for more out of college than just soccer.
"I played a lot of club soccer in high school," he said. "It's tempting to want a scholarship as you think about college. It gives you a lot of recognition. Maybe there's that idea that 'wow, he really made it.' But as I started thinking about where I wanted to go to college I started to wonder if I shouldn't be looking at a lot more than just soccer."
Visker turned to his dad for advice. Roger Visker had been a longtime police officer who had, his son said, a life-changing experience and left law enforcement to become a minister.
Roger Visker told Kurt to look at the big picture.
"He told me to think about a place where I would get better as a soccer player," Kurt recalled, "but he also encouraged me to consider academics and my faith. A Christian college was important to me, too, and I wanted a place where I would have quality professors. In the end Calvin provided everything I needed."
Calvin coach Chris Hughes said Visker provided a lot for Calvin as well.
"Kurt is the most complete player I have ever coached," Hughes said. "He could create on offense and shut down the offense of the opposing team. I was delighted with his career, delighted to see him honored as an All-American, and I know the rest of his teammates feel the same way."
The awards and team success have been fulfilling for Visker, but so have his experiences away from the field.
He says one of the highlights of his four years at Calvin has been the professors he has gotten to know in and out of the classroom. A business minor, in addition to his psychology major, Visker has especially become acquainted with new business professor Stacy Jackson the last couple of years.
Jackson has a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from Rice University, so his academic credentials are a good fit with Visker's areas of study. But Visker, who next year will begin a master's in social work, said Jackson has been more than just a professor to him.
"We meet once a week to talk," he said. "He's a professor but I also consider him a mentor. He's a smart guy—brilliant—but also approachable."
Visker says that description applies to many of his Calvin professors.
"The professors are excellent," he said. "They are extremely smart and most of them are also really good at teaching. That's a great combination. I've learned a lot from my professors."
Calvin's strong sense of community has also been a plus for Visker.
"It starts in the residence halls," he said. "I have nothing but fond memories of dorm life. And that continues on throughout the four years you're here. I've grown here in so many ways—athletically, for sure, but spiritually and academically, too. It's been a great experience."
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