Day Two San Antonio Diary For Calvin Men’s Soccer Team
Friday, December 02, 2011
By Sports Information Student Assistant Andrew Knot/Photos Courtesy of NCAA Photos
SAN ANTONIO, TX - Team breakfast in the hotel kicked off a loaded day for the squad. After breakfast, the squad traveled in team vans to Blossom Soccer Complex to get to know the facility. While there, they relived previous tournament goals, took pictures, and enjoyed the sunny, 70-degree weather. After the stadium walkthrough, the team practiced at another local soccer complex. The training session, filled with fast-paced possession drills, marked the last of the 2011 season for the Knights.
Following the practice, the team had a chance to participate in a divison-wide partnership between the schools and the Special Olympics. The team broke into groups and led dribbling and shooting drills with the Special Olympians, who were eager to interact with college athletes. People from both parties described the event as a learning experience, and they had a chance to dine together later at the tournament banquet. During the banquet, Senior Miles Colago represented Calvin with a speech on his experience as a Calvin Knight. His classmate, Brad Wassink was awarded the prestigious Elite 89 award, issued to a key contributor with the highest GPA at each of the NCAA’s 89 tournaments. Wassink is only the second Calvin student to claim the award. The team capped off the night with a barge tour of the River Walk. The tour gave the Knights a chance to further acquaint themselves with the city by seeing its sights learning about its rich history.
As participants in the 2011 Final Four, the Knights participated in the NCAA’s Division III partnership with the Special Olympics. During their interaction with the Special Olympians, it became clear that the experience was far more than a mandatory itinerary event.
The team broke into four groups and led the Special Olympians in drills. They dribbled around cones, took shots on goal, and shared high-fives and smiles. Two athletes, Oyesile Segun and a Special Olympian who went by Chewy, even choreographed a short dance.
Junior Dan Nederhoed, who took on a leadership role in the event, called the experience an enriching change of perspective.
“It was humbling because, in such a pressured environment, it shows that you should think about things a little lighter,” he said.
Junior Kyle Vela, who is in his first year with the team, echoed his teammates’ sentiments.
“As soon as I met the first kid, I immediately connected to him. Everyone was having a great time and you could see it made their day,” he added.
Both Nederhoed and Vela noted the impactful experience as a byproduct of their team’s success on a national level.
“It feels great to be a part of something that’s nationally respected,” said Nederhoed.
This experience is something I could get used to,” added Vela.