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All things
A sweeper’s success
By Derek Neice

Greg SnapperThis season, senior Greg Snapper, sweeper back of  the men’s soccer team, received MIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors — for the fourth  time in his accolade-laden college career.

To Snapper, the award was one in a long list of outstanding achievements. The unanimous 2008 MIAA Most Valuable Player was featured on the All-MIAA second team in his reshman season and then improved to the first team in his sophomore, junior and senior years, including a 2008 second team Great Lakes All-Region mention and a first team All Central Region berth in 2009. In addition, Snapper was named to the 2009 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second team in the college division of men’s soccer.

“It means a lot,” Snapper said of the awards, adding that his coaches and teammates are essential to his success. “The MIAA is a great conference with great players. I take it as a gain for Calvin, rather than personally.”

The athletic awards are only part of Snapper’s résumé, which is impressive outside the white-chalked lines of the soccer pitch. Snapper is a three-time member of the All-MIAA Academic Honor Roll. As a chemistry major and Spanish minor, he has maintained a 3.8 grade point average through three years at Calvin, and he plans to attend graduate school.

On Sept. 18, the Knight soccer team traveled to Wittenberg, Ohio, for a tournament. For Snapper, this meant missing classes in analytical, biological, and physical chemistry, along with “Philosophy of Science.” That same weekend, Snapper anchored a defense that preserved a clean slate throughout the tournament.

“I have to stay on top of school and everything else when I’m gone. It’s a matter of planning ahead and anticipating as opposed to reacting,” said Snapper.

Greg SnapperThis anticipate-first attitude permeates not only Snapper’s studies, but also his play on the field. “Knowing Greg is back there eases a coach’s mind. He never second-guesses himself,” said coach Chris Hughes. “He’s contributed immensely to our success.”

In his college soccer career, Snapper played a vital role in more than 45 Calvin shutouts on defense. With Snapper as the last line of defense, Calvin conceded only 18 goals in 23 games, helping Calvin finish 30th in the final NCAA III statistics in goals-against-average (0.67). As a senior captain and four-year starter on the team, Snapper understands that his role in the back is pivotal.

“I play with a lot of direction as sweeper or center back. It means telling other people where to go or calling out marks. People look up to the defense because we see everything. So it’s crucial we communicate,” said Snapper, during the season.

Also crucial is Snapper’s leadership of a fairly young team. Underclassmen are a significant portion of Calvin’s roster, and Snapper understands his role. “It’s a lot of responsibility. I gladly welcome it, and it’s an honor to be a captain with Luke Holtrop and Mike Holwerda.”

Led by that trio of captains, the Knights produced a banner year in 2009, winning the MIAA title for a third straight year and then advancing through the NCAA III Tournament all the way to the national championship game for the first time in school history. Calvin finished the year with an overall record of 18-5-3.

“This season was such a blessing,” said Snapper. "We had some injuries and setbacks late in the year but we found a way to overcome them to win our conference title and advance through the (NCAA III) tournament. Our team gets along so well. It’s was a huge factor in our success and hopefully continued success for years to come.”

That Calvin unity is what drew Snapper to Calvin in the first place: “I really liked the community. It just clicked.”