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Artist on the court

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Courtney KurnczWhen senior Courtney Kurncz came to Calvin as a freshman in the fall of 2008, the women’s basketball team was coming off a 15-9 season, a down year for the Knights over the past decade. In her first year, Calvin went 16-10. The next year, they were 24-5. Last year, the Knights went 25-5. This year, Calvin captured an outright MIAA regular season title and an MIAA tournament crown while carrying a 25-1 record into the NCAA III Tournament. Calvin has continued to improve over her career, and what perfect timing for a senior.

A graduate of St. Johns (Mich.) High School, Kurncz chose to attend Calvin because of the welcome she was given on a visit. “(Calvin is) a great school academically, I liked the area and the team was really welcoming,” she said.

An art education major, Kurncz hopes to find a teaching job after she graduates, while making and selling artwork on the side. During her final semester of college, she has been student teaching at Forest Hills Eastern High School, teaching a variety of art classes including a digital photography class. This past December, Kurncz had a senior art design exhibit that was very successful. Her exhibit included photography, sculpture work and paintings. “It was one of the biggest crowds that Calvin has had go through the art education exhibits, she said. “It was nice to see all my work accumulated.”

Her Calvin basketball teammates were present for the exhibit which meant a lot to Kurncz. “Our team spends so much time together that we’ve become more than just friends,” she said. “It’s more like a family. We try to support each other in whatever way we can, and when my teammates showed up to my art exhibit, it meant that a part of my family was there to support me.”

A three-year starter and four-year varsity player, Kurncz collected her first collegiate double-double in a 72-59 win against Hope this past January with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Said Kurncz: “I wanted to take on a leadership role as a senior, and things just connected.”

The 5-11 forward has had a penchant for coming up with big plays in big moments. In a 67-65 victory over Hope in the 2011 MIAA tournament championship game she connected on a key three-pointer late in the game and then found teammate Jill Thomas on an assist; Thomas drained a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. In a second-round NCAA III Tournament game, Kurncz drilled a three-pointer that gave Calvin a 70-69 lead over Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the closing minutes of play with the Knights going on to win 76-71.

As a basketball player, Kurncz has been a multidimensional threat, serving as a ball-handler, defender, distributor and, when needed, a scorer. As a senior, she has averaged just over six points and four rebounds a game while leading the team in assists and steals and ranking second in blocked shots.

“Courtney does so many things for our team this year that it’s hard to put a finger on what she does best,” said Calvin women’s basketball coach John Ross. “She’s one of the glue players for our team. She can pass, she can score, she can rebound, defend and she can motivate her teammates. She’s been a big part of our success, and we’ve been blessed to have her in our program.”

Ranked as high as fourth in the nation this year, Calvin generated a national statement this season. “All the players on the team are wonderful as people and teammates. This is the most talented team I’ve ever played for,” said Kurncz.

Attending Calvin for Kurncz has been more than just athletic success; it’s also offered a great Christian education. “I’ve received a wonderful education, and I love the community here,” said Kurncz. “Calvin has opened up a lot of doors for me.”

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