Years: Calvin’s First Half-Century in the MIAA, 1953-2003
Just over 50 years ago, Calvin College joined the Michigan Collegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), the oldest collegiate athletic conference in the United States.
As a result, thousands of student-athletes at Calvin have been provided with the unique opportunity of forming relationships with athletes from other member institutions and competing against other member schools for league championships.
“What this book is really about is memories,” said Dave Tuuk, a 36-year member of Calvin’s physical education department as professor, coach and athletic director — and also the author of Golden Years. “Most people have very fond memories of their participation on sports teams,” he said. “These are definitely moments that should be remembered.”
“There is a lot of history here,” said Tuuk, who previously chronicled the first 38 years of Calvin’s sports history in Maroon and Gold Will Bind Our Hearts (Calvin Alumni Association, 1998). “I felt we owed it to the student-athletes to preserve the history of the last 50 years. Now they have something they can refer to, and, hopefully, it will stir memories.”
The book begins with Calvin’s initial request to the join the MIAA in 1937 — a request that was rejected. A second request was approved in 1952, and Calvin became a member of the MIAA in 1953.
The book then details the history of each of the 20 sports in which Calvin has participated over the last 50 years, including wrestling, archery and field hockey, all three of which have since been discontinued.
“I relived a lot,” said Tuuk, who spent more than a year researching the book and conducting interviews with many coaches and players. “I was involved in 36 of these 50 years, and what amazed me is seeing how the quality of the athletes and of the performances has evolved over the years. We went from the pioneer days of athletics in terms of facilities and coaching to what we have now; it’s an amazing thing.”
Of particular interest is the progress made in women’s sports, said Tuuk. “For instance, there are women pole vaulting now at heights that are better than a lot of men used to be able to do. To see the improvement in opportunities for women gives me a good feeling.”
Women’s teams went from being the “Knighties” in the WMIAA (the separate division for women of the MIAA) in the early 1950s to full-fledged Knights in the united MIAA in 1978.
Many individual and team highlights and statistics are included in the book. It also lists every All-MIAA first-team honoree, includes reflections from administrators of other MIAA institutions, and offers write-ups on traditions such as the Calvin-Hope rivalry.
“When you look back on all of this, you have to say, ‘Wow, God has been really good to us,’” said Tuuk. “The fact that Calvin is what it is today is really something.”
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