A 125th MIAA Anniversary Look Back at the Calvin Field Hockey Program
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
(Editor’s Note: Portions of this story were contributed by Calvin Director of Athletics Emeritus Dave Tuuk from his book on Calvin athletics entitled: Golden Years - Calvin’s First Half-Century in the MIAA
By Calvin Sports Information Director Jeff Febus
The sticks, the skirts, the socks, the pads, the wire-mesh cages and the balls have long been packed away but the memories remain.
From 1968-until-1990, the women’s field hockey program evolved into a thriving sport on the Calvin College campus and in the MIAA.
And at the forefront of Calvin’s field hockey rise was Doris Zuidema who served as head coach from 1977 until 1989 when she stepped down to serve on an academic sabbatical.
During her tenure as Calvin’s field hockey coach, the Knights captured six MIAA titles and became the league’s first team to advance to the NCAA III Tournament, doing so in 1988. In 1981, her squad went 12-0 in the MIAA, becoming the first team in league history to go through a double round-robin schedule undefeated.
Zuidema took over the reins of the Calvin field hockey program in 1977 after seeking a change from coaching basketball - a sport she had coached successfully at Calvin since 1965.
“I was looking for a change from coaching basketball and the rule was in the Calvin physical education department that you had to coach something along with your teaching load,” said Zuidema. “I decided to try coaching field hockey even though I knew very little about the sport.”
Zuidema pushed ahead to learn the sport however, attending a field hockey camp in Brooklyn, Michigan, where she actually played the sport while also seeking knowledge from other experienced coaches attending the camp.
She also credits several of her players for guiding her along the way. “I had players like Leslee Shaw and Kathleen Haun who were more-or-less student assistant coaches,” said Zuidema. “They really helped me with game strategy and were great assets to the growth of our program. I wasn’t afraid to rely on my players to help me out.”
One of her former players Deb Bakker remembers Zuidema as a great coach to play for. “Doris was so much fun to play for,” said Bakker who currently serves as a professor in the Calvin kinesiology department. “She had so many great one-liners that would make you crack up but she also took the game seriously. She was in it to win.”
Zuidema was also in it to make sure her team was the best conditioned team on the field hockey pitch. “We started out every practice with a two-mile run,” said Bakker who was a goalie from 1979-to-1981 under Zuidema. “The goalies would run with their gear on too. We were always a well-conditioned team.”
According to Zuidema, many of her coaching drills involved concepts she developed as a basketball coach. “Many of the drills I used in basketball were adaptable to field hockey,” she said. “We worked on individual defenses like man-to-man and zone just like we did in basketball. We worked on give-and-go’s and also fast-break plays. There were many similarities.”
During the early years of Zuidema’s tenure as field hockey coach, Calvin’s field hockey program was a member of the WMIAA and also the AIAW and the SMAIW, which like the men’s NCAA, controlled regional and national competition. In 1979, Calvin, led by the superb play of Julie Besteman, won the SMAIW State Tournament and went on to the national tournament at Princeton. At the turn of the decade, the MIAA assimilated women’s athletics into its structure and field hockey became an official MIAA sport.
In the early 1980’s, Calvin earned another trip to the AIAW national tournament - this time on the campus of Slippery Rock State College in Pennsylvania. The trip proved to be one of the most memorable in Calvin field hockey history.
“We were scheduled to play Saturday morning and the trip was about 8-10 hours by bus,” said Zuidema. “The academic rules on campus back then were much stricter on missing class. To keep our players from missing class, we left late Friday afternoon on a bus.”
Rather than have her team sleep sitting on the hard seats of a regular bus, Zuidema had elected to use Calvin’s “Bike Bus” which was equipped with wooden bunks near the top of the ceiling. The bus was used in the summer when Calvin sponsored summer bike trips.
“Some of our players tried to sleep in the bunks but I don’t think anyone got much sleep,” chuckled Zuidema, recounting the trip that continued through the night. “We arrived at Slippery Rock a couple of hours before we were scheduled to play our first game. I don’t think anyone felt too rested at that point but that was just the way it was.”
Throughout her tenure, the Knights were blessed with talented players. “We had some great players and athletes,” said Zuidema. “Field hockey wasn’t that prevalent in the state of Michigan so we had to rely on student-athletes that had come to Calvin from out east. Once we started winning games, we started attracting more players from all over.”
The field hockey program also attracted athletes who had never played the sport before. One of those athletes was Bakker who had played a variety of sports at Illiana Christian High School in suburban Chicago but had never played field hockey. She was recruited to play out of the Calvin dorms prior to her sophomore year and quickly adapted to the goalie position.
“We had several players like Deb who had never played field hockey before,” said Zuidema. “They found out that several of the skills needed for field hockey were very similar to the sports they had played before, particularly softball.”
Ten of Zuidema’s field hockey players would go on to receive the Kay Tiemersma Award - an award given to Calvin’s top senior female student-athlete. Of the 10 individuals, seven were dual-sport athletes. In addition three individuals captured the MIAA MVP award in field hockey while sisters Leslie (1987) and Kim Tanis (1990) were both named Division III All-Americans during the latter stages of the program.
The final year of the program came in 1990 as only four MIAA teams remained: Calvin, Hope, Adrian and Kalamazoo. With Zuidema on an academic sabbatical, Bakker was brought on board to coach the Calvin field hockey team in its final yeaar. Calvin captured its seventh and final league championship with a 5-0-1 conference record. The small league made scheduling non-conference games difficult however as long road trips to Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky were necessitated.
“It was a little sad but it was also something that we could see coming,” said Bakker. “That didn’t diminish how hard we played in our final season.”
Also the longtime Calvin Director of Women’s Athletics, Zuidema returned the following year to coach the Calvin women’s golf team - a program that was added to replace the discontinued field hockey program.
“I was sad to see field hockey go,” said Zuidema. “It is one of the greatest games because it takes a lot of skill and a lot of teamwork. It is a difficult game to be really proficient at but I enjoyed watching our players advance and grow. There are a lot of fond memories to be sure.”
CALVIN COLLEGE FIELD HOCKEY HISTORY
1982, Kathleen Haun
1983, Laurie Russell
1984, Lisa Reeder, Barb Zoodsma
1985, Lisa Reeder, Leslie Tanis, Barb Zoodsma
1986, Lisa Reeder, Leslie Tanis, Lisa VanDellen
1987, Lisa Reeder, Leslie Tanis, Jackie VanderBrug
1988, Leslie Tanis, Karla Block, Teresa Cerrato, Jackie VanderBrug
1989, Jackie VanderBrug, Vera Magnuson, Deb Stout, Kara VanDellen
1990, Stacey Faber, Deb Stout, Kerin Sullivan, Kim Tanis
Lisa Reeder (1985 & 1986)
Leslie Tanis (1988, Co-MVP)
Jackie VanderBrug (1989, Co-MVP)
MIAA SCORING CHAMPIONS
1978 - Julie Besteman
1979 - Julie Besteman
1983 - Laurie Russel
1986 - Lisa Van Dellen
1987 - Lisa Reeder
1989 - Kara Van Dellen
1990 - Kim Tanis
Leslie Tanis - 1987
Kim Tanis - 1990
CALVIN KAY TIEMERSMA AWARD RECIPIENTS
1975 Ellen Mills field hockey & volleyball
1976 Mary Schutten field hockey & basketball
1977 Bonnie Knaack field hockey
1979 Nancy Martin field hockey & softball
1980 Julie Besteman field hockey & track
1981 Leslee Shaw field hockey & softball
1982 Deb Bakker field hockey & softball
1983 Deb Dykstra field hockey
1989 Leslie Tanis field hockey
1992 Julie Overway field hockey, basketball & softball