Return to the Calvin homepage Return to the Knightfile homepage  
All things


Strikwerda family shares love for tennis
By Jeff Febus

Rachel StrikwerdaWhen Calvin women's tennis team member Rachel Strikwerda takes to the outdoor tennis courts at Calvin for the first time next spring, she will have a little extra bounce in her step.

The newly refurbished courts located just a few yards east of the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex will bear the Strikwerda name in honor of a lead gift from her grandparents Dr. James and Dolly Strikwerda.

"Playing on the new courts will definitely be special and something I am looking forward to," said Rachel who was 13-6 at No. 4 singles on a Calvin team this spring that just missed winning its first MIAA title since 1982. "It's a very generous gift from my grand-parents. I know I will appreciate playing there but so will our men's and women's tennis teams, our students and the rest of the campus community."

A strong appreciation for Calvin College has been a part of the Strikwerda family for many years. It began with James and Dolly, 1949 and 1950 Calvin graduates respectively. Ironically, the couple did not meet until after their Calvin student days when they were set up on a blind date while James was a dental student at the University of Michigan and Dolly a teacher at Oakdale Christian School in Grand Rapids.

Rachel StrikwerdaAfter James graduated from the University of Michigan in 1953 he immediately was called to active duty and sent off to Korea. After serving 16 months, he returned to Alberta, Canada (Dolly's hometown), and quickly became reacquainted with Dolly. The couple was married one week later and recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary.

During the Korean War, James served as a military dentist and received the rank of 1st Lieutenant. After a short six-month stint at a military clinic in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he and Dolly returned to West Michigan to open a practice in Holland and have remained there ever since.

The couple had three children, Richard, Mary and Cheryl, all of whom attended Calvin as did their future spouses. Their oldest son, Rich, played tennis in high school, graduated from Calvin and continued on to the University of Michigan Dental School as did his wife Susan. Together they joined the Strikwerda Family Dentistry practice in Holland, with James still filling in on a part-time basis, and Dolly working there part time.

The family dentistry situation has given Rich and Susan the flexibility to watch their daughter Rachel play tennis at Holland Christian High School and at Calvin College. As well as following the team during spring break in Florida.  James and Dolly also try to attend Rachel's matches -- even in Florida.

Watching the matches is nerve wracking -- even for grandparents: "You can't yell like you do at basketball games, but Dolly and I really enjoy being spectators!"

According to James, the love for Calvin College stems from his wife who came to Calvin as a student from Alberta, Canada. "I grew up in Grand Rapids and was a live-at-home student at Calvin," said James. "As a result, I did not get involved in much while I was a Calvin student. My wife was from out of state, lived in the new dormitory and really became involved in campus life. That really sparked her love for the institution and it has remained that way ever since.

After we were married, she helped me gain a greater appreciation for Calvin. For many years we were actively involved in keeping the Calvin spark alive and well in the Holland-Zeeland area. It's been a real blessing to see our children and now some of our grandchildren furthering their education at Calvin."