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Mantel leaves behind a legacy
By Derek Neice

John ManteWhen John Mantel came to Calvin he made an immediate impact on the game and became a leader of the Knights during his four-year varsity career at Calvin.

“It was quite an experience,” fellow senior Matt Veltema said of Mantel and how special it’s been to play all four years together. “He’s an awesome player with a lot of talent and character, and I couldn’t imagine playing four years with anyone else but him.”

Those who watched him play this season know he is a force in the paint. This has been his biggest strength as he has developed over the years. As a freshman, Mantel came
in and averaged 7.2 points and 4.0 rebounds a game off the bench and the Knights went 10-4 in conference play. His sophomore year saw him crack the starting squad and the increase in minutes saw a similar increase in numbers as he averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a game.

This trend would continue over his final two years. Leading the team in scoring and rebounding, Mantel averaged 13.6 points and 7.3 rebounds his junior year and 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game his final year. Calvin finished 12-2 in the conference both of these two years, winning the regular season title both years.

A two-time first team All-MIAA selection, Mantel also led Calvin in blocks three of his four years, finishing with 117. He became the 19th player in Calvin men’s basketball history to hit the 1,000-point plateau and finished his career with 1,263 points, ranking 12th on the Calvin career scoring list. A member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III All-District second team as a senior, Mantel also finished with 680 rebounds ranking sixth on the Calvin career rebounding list.

“I think in his time here he became a great example to other people of what to be in handling setbacks and positive things,” said Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek of Mantel. "He’s been great in the locker room and a great example of a student athlete. “Through his work ethic and his willingness to make changes, he became an outstanding player and one of the names that people will mention as among some of the better players to
ever play at Calvin,” Vande Streek continued.

“Dominant would be a good word to describe John,” added Veltema.“

An example of that was his performance in his final game as a Knight—the MIAA tournament championship, in which he scored a career-high 29 points.

“I know there have been a lot of great players at Calvin, but I don’t think that we as a Calvin team coached by me have relied on any one player more than we have relied on John this past year,” said Vande Streek of how unique Mantel has been to the program.

John Mantel head shotMantel received one final post-season honor as he was selected to compete in the first-ever NCAA Division III College All-Star game at the NCAA III Men’s Basketball Final Four in Salem, Va. “I was really honored to be selected,” said Mantel. “To be honest, it was a pleasant surprise but it was also a privilege to represent Calvin College one
more time.”

With all that he has given to the program at Calvin, Mantel feels he has gotten just as much back in his four years.“It’s been an honor for me to play for a program with as rich a tradition has Calvin has,” said Mantel. “It’s humbling to be listed among some of those other great names in Calvin’s history.”

As well as succeeding on the court, Mantel also can boast of a strong academic record. An engineering major, he will be working full time for ControlNet in Ann Arbor, Mich., upon
his graduation. He is currently part of a team of five students working on a senior design project that involves modifying a 12-horse power engine. The goal of the modification is to decrease emissions and increase efficiency of a lawnmower.

Balancing time between basketball and engineering is not an easy task according to Mantel. “Whether you are involved in athletics or not, majoring in engineering is demanding,” said Mantel. “Trying to balance both is even more demanding but it can be done. As an engineering major at Calvin, I learned how to make the most of the time that I had each and every day.”

Reflecting on his Calvin career he said, “I’ll miss the guys on the team and also just basketball in general. It’s just a game but the more important thing, at least for me, was just going out every day being with the other guys and having fun.”

Read more about John Mantel, "Chelsea's Mantel has a slam dunk career at Calvin," from his hometown newspaper.

Calvin men's basketball Web site