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Carissa Verkaik Named Recipient of MIAA’s Sheila Wallace Kovalchik Scholar-Athlete Award

Friday, June 14, 2013

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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Awards by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association to the outstanding senior athletes from its member schools during the 2012-13 academic year have been announced by Commissioner David Neilson.

Cory Schmidt of Hope College has received the Albert L. Deal Scholar-Athlete Award, while Carissa Verkaik of Calvin College has been presented the Sheila Wallace Kovalchik Scholar-Athlete Award.

“Cory and Carissa have had marvelous careers these last four years in the classroom, on the field, and as role models in our conference. They will be missed, but their selection for these awards from such an exceptional group of nominees is an achievement for which they should take great pride,” Commissioner Neilson said.

The awards recognize senior class athletes who have excelled in academics and athletics, as well as displayed outstanding leadership in their respective communities. The awards honor two former MIAA commissioners, Albert Deal (1971-91) and Sheila Wallace Kovalchik (1991-2002).

Carissa Verkaik

A native of Holland, Mich. and graduate of Holland Christian High School, Carissa Verkaik won eight letters as a student-athlete at Calvin, four in basketball and four in track and field. She was a seven-time All-MIAA selection during her career, four times in basketball and three in track and field.

In basketball, Verkaik became the first women’s basketball player in MIAA history to be named the conference’s Most Valuable Player four consecutive years and only the third player to be named first team All-MIAA all four years. She also graduated as the conference’s all-time career scoring leader, scoring 1,219 points in 64 league games for an average of 19.0 points per game. She finished as Calvin’s all-time leader in career scoring (2,236 points), rebounding (1,071) and blocked shots (440).

Verkaik won numerous national honors in her senior year, including the 2013 Jostens Trophy as the most outstanding NCAA Division III women’s basketball student-athlete. She was also named the national Player of the Year by and Women’s Division III News, and was a two-time finalist for the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year award.

Verkaik also excelled as a high jumper for the Knights, winning the MIAA championship in the event three times and qualifying for the NCAA national meet twice.

Verkaik graduated in May from Calvin with a degree in education, finishing with a 3.77 grade point average. She was a member of the Dean’s List at Calvin all four years, a four-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, and a two-time Capital One Academic All-America selection (2012 and 2013). Last winter, she was named the national Division III Academic All-America of the Year in women’s basketball by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Verkaik was also active in numerous activities in the community. Some of her volunteer activities include serving as a mentor in the Special Olympics program, serving as a tutor with local elementary school children, serving as a praise and worship leader in her church and organizing a middle-school book club group. This past spring she has served as a student teacher at Potter’s House Christian School in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Verkaik was recently was named the co-recipient of the Kay Tiemersma Award, presented annually to Calvin’s most outstanding senior female student-athlete. She was also named Michigan Female College Athlete of the Year by the Detroit Athletic Club.

Carissa Verkaik is the daughter of Mike and Dawn Verkaik of Holland, Mich.

Other nominees for the Sheila Wallace Kovalchik Award were Kelly Eberhardt of Adrian, Kristin Nelson of Albion, Libby Westrate of Hope, Megan Martinez of Kalamazoo, Caitlin LaValley of Olivet, Morgan Bedan of Saint Mary’s and Andrea Gasco of Trine.

Carissa Verkaik is the seventh individual from Calvin to receive the Kovalchik Award as Annie VanderLaan (2003), Christine Hendricks (2006), Lisa Winkle (2007), Sarah Wittingen (2008), Melissa Oosterhouse (2011) and Rebecca Kamp (2012) were all previously so honored.

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