Family Tree Connections Are Rich With Calvin Men’s Soccer Team Heading Into NCAA III Final Four
Monday, November 30, 2009
By Calvin Sports Information Student Assistant Andrew Knot
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
For the past 30 years, the Calvin men’s soccer team has played on the same field against the same opponents. Not much has changed. Chris Hughes now coaches the team, but Dr. Marv Zuidema, after whom the field is named, still faithfully paces the sideline during games. The uniforms may have changed, but the bloodlines that don those uniforms have not.
Both junior Brad Heethuis and freshman Joe Broekhuizen have fathers who played on the Calvin soccer team under then head coach Marv Zuidema. Even more, Randy Heethuis and Brian Broekhuizen were teammates on the team that advanced further than any team in Calvin history, the 1980 national quarterfinals.
Until this year, that is.
This year, the apple didn’t just far from the tree; it grew a tree of its own, one that now shadows the parent-tree.
Brad Heethuis and Joe Broekhuizen one-upped their fathers, taking their tournament run to the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. After losing some critical conference games at the conclusion of the regular season, the Knights needed clutch results to win the conference and clinch a spot in the national tournament. Joe Broekhuizen’s game tying goal against Trine sparked the Knights and initiated a regular season run that concluded with Brad Heethuis’ game-winning goal against rival Hope, to seal the conference and a NCAA tournament appearance. Calvin has ridden that wave to the Four, surpassing the 1980 team’s run to the national quarterfinals.
The Knight’s tournament surge has been nothing but a source of pride for each father, both of whom are still active in the game of soccer.
“It has been a thrill to watch them play. You think you enjoy something yourself but when you can experience something with your children it’s a treat,” said Brian Broekhuizen, a 1982 Calvin graduate.
“It’s been great to see them come together. A lot of guys are contributing and doing a lot of little things that are necessary,” said Randy Heethuis, a 1984 Calvin graduate.
Both fathers have coached their sons in the past, with Brian coaching Joe on club teams and Randy coaching Brad at Unity Christian High School. Because of this, both Joe and Brad have been around the game since a very young age.
“I’ve been at soccer games since I was four years old. It has allowed me to see the environment from an early age. I grew up around it and love it. It has helped me as a player to have my dad there to help me and teach me,” said Brad Heethuis.
“Growing up around soccer opened up a lot of opportunities for me,” added Joe Broekhuizen.
“Joe would get to run lines with the ball boys, get to know the players, and ended up in a few team pictures along the way. We share a love for the game. It’s ingrained in him,” said Brian Broekhuizen.
Randy Heethuis coaches the boy’s and girl’s high school soccer team at Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Michigan, where he has enjoyed an enormous amount of success, including the 2006 National Soccer Coaches High School Coach of the Year Award. Brian Broekhuizen coaches club soccer in West Michigan. He has also coached the boy’s varsity team at Caledonia High School, leading the Scots to a state runner-up berth in 1999 and now assists with the South Christian High School girls soccer program locally.
With coaches for parents, both Brad and Joe claim they have benefited from the perspective of a coach off the field, and a dad on the field, although they were never allowed to call their father’s “dad” during practice.
“He tried to get out to as many games as he could. He would give me a call and we would go over the game and what I thought about it. He would give me a few tips if he was at the game,” said Brad Heethuis.
This post-season success has given Randy Heethuis and Brian Broekhuizen a chance to rewind 29 years and reflect on the difficult MIAA conference opponents, the rainy conditions at Ohio Wesleyan, or the injury that sidelined Heethuis during that tournament stretch.
But, as Brian Broekhuizen insisted, this moment belongs to the current team.
“Randy and I have talked about [our playing days] a little, but I don’t want to steal the spotlight from this team. We will probably compare memories this weekend, but this is their time,” he said.
Randy Heethuis echoed that sentiment, saying, “It’s enjoyable to look back, but this weekend is about looking forward. Hopefully this team can pull out two more victories.”
The immense sense of father-son pride is impossible to ignore from both parents. Each father is wholeheartedly proud with the achievements of his son and the entire team. That satisfaction is only strengthened with those accomplishments coming at the fathers’ alma mater.
“When it’s your son and your alma mater put together, that makes for some lasting memories. It’s been remarkable,” said Heethuis.
“Calvin is a great school with so many great dimensions. I’m just pleased Joe could be a part of it. I’m happy for the whole team,” said Broekhuizen.
Despite this, Joe Broekhuizen still acknowledges, “there’s definitely a little bit of competition there.” And the sons know they have beaten their fathers.
“After every tournament win we heard a little more about their tournament run, but after the quarterfinals, we beat ‘em,” he added.
And when asked if he feels any competition with his son, Brian Broekhuizen stated, “I see a gleam in his eye. He knows he has one-upped the old man.”
Brad Heethuis saw the potential for bragging rights in future family feuds.
“It will probably come up at Christmas or Thanksgiving down the road, but I’m not going to hold it over him” he said.
To that, his dad could only contently respond, “If it does come up, I would be quite alright taking a backseat to the accomplishments of this team.”
This weekend, the Calvin soccer team has a chance to take those bragging rights to another level, travelling to San Antonio, Texas for the Final Four. The Knights compete against Dominican (IL) in the semi-finals on Friday night. Having already advanced the furthest of any Calvin team, a run at a national championship is a big change for the program, no matter how similar the bloodlines are.