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Senior cager embraces leadership role

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Brian HaverdinkBeing the lone senior on the hardwood for the Calvin men’s basketball team is a bit unusual; Brian Haverdink prefers to call it “lucky.”

“We had a jayvee team that was mostly freshmen,” said Haverdink. “After that first year a lot of guys didn’t come out, and after everyone got weeded out along the way, I’m the last one standing. I feel lucky that I was given a chance my first year.”

Coach Kevin Vande Streek’s preferred term to describe Haverdink is “inspiring.” “He was an unheralded high school player, but he kept working and working and working,” he said. “What he did is very inspiring. I play him now not because I like him, which I do; I play him because he got good.”

Haverdink came to Calvin intending to play golf, which he did when he arrived in the fall, fresh from Holland (Mich.) Christian High School. After golf season was over, Tim Katt, a senior on the basketball team encouraged Haverdink to try out for basketball.

“I didn’t come in with too high of expectations,” said Haverdink. “I wasn’t sure I would make the team. I’d be surprised if Coach Vande Streek even knew who I was.”

Haverdink earned a spot on the jayvee team— seventh man. That was a step up from his freshman year in high school when he was last off the bench.

“I remember at the end of my freshman year, Coach said, ‘You could be a pretty good player here if you put the work into it.’ He saw something I didn’t necessarily see at the time,” said Haverdink.

So Haverdink directed his focus towards basketball, and despite seeing very few minutes of playing time his sophomore year, he stuck with it.

“My expectations were not focused on playing but on being a part of the program,” he said. “It was a really good experience for me because I was growing as a person by just being on the team.”

Haverdink’s role changed his junior year: he steadily earned more playing time. After last season, Vande Streek approached Haverdink about being a team captain this year.

“Because of his experience in the program, he identifies with everybody,” said Vande Streek. “He’s a great leader; the other guys have great respect for him.”

Leadership skills are just part of what Haverdink has gained by being a member of the team, he said. “I have learned so many intangible things like perseverance and work ethic, commitment to goals and seeing things through,” he said.

This season, Haverdink appeared in all of the Knights’ games and as a starter in more than half. He averaged just less than 5 points a game. He also shot just under 90 percent from the free-throw line.

The Knights faced some adversity midway through the season due to some injuries and academic ineligibility, but bounced back to close the season—another life lesson for Haverdink and the rest of the Knights. “You can’t make excuses,” he said. “Losing is part of the game sometimes; you have to keep a good perspective on things.”

Haverdink, a two-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll, is majoring in business communications and will be looking for a job in marketing or public relations following his graduation in May.

As a senior, Haverdink is able to reflect: “I didn’t become a 1,000-point player or anything. But when I see the progress I’ve made as a person, I am grateful for that opportunity.

“I think my parents were shaking their heads every time I ran on to the court. From freshman year of high school when I scored two points the whole season to playing for Calvin, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to play for Calvin. It’s a pretty cool opportunity.”

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