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Tom Snikkers Signs Professional Contract to Play Basketball in Netherlands

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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By Jacob Kuyvenhoven

Tom Snikkers, a 2013 graduate of Calvin and former member of the men’s basketball team, has signed a contract to play for Aris Leeuwarden in the Dutch Basketball League.  Snikkers is eighth on Calvin’s all-time scoring list and is coming off a senior season where he led the Knights to an MIAA title, averaged 13.4 points per game and was named a Division III Honorable Mention All-American. 

Snikkers will follow in the footsteps of his older sister Carrie, a Hope College graduate who previously played basketball overseas in Europe.  Snikkers mentioned to Calvin reporters earlier this year that he hoped to play after college, mentioning it as “definitely a possibility,” and this signing represents the end of a long phase of hard work.  “It’s a dream come true, something I’ve been working for since I was a kid,” said Snikkers.  “It’s been challenging, but I can’t wait to get started.”

Surprisingly, Snikkers’ Dutch heritage has actually been a factor in his signing with Aris Leeuwarden.  “The team can only have four American players, and because my dad was born in the Netherlands I can get dual citizenship and count as one of the European players,” explains Snikkers.  He will join three other Dutch players on the team, whose website lauded the Grand Rapids area for its “many Dutch immigrants,” and listed the Dutch names of Snikkers’ Calvin teammates like Rietema, Brink, Huizenga, and De Vries.  Expectations will be high, as the team made it to the finals of the Dutch Basketball league championship last year and is one of the up-and-coming teams in the league, having made the playoffs in four straight seasons.  Snikkers hopes to fill whatever role he can in the team’s next season as he adjusts to playing in a new league and elevating his game while learning from the more experienced players.

In this phase of his life with so much change, Snikkers plans to take a day-by-day approach mentally.  “It’s a one-year contract, so I’ll play and see how the experience goes, see if I want to come back,” he says.  He hopes to become an athletic director once his playing days are over, but insists that his first priority will be getting the most out of his time overseas.  “I won’t focus too much on what will happen after this, I’m just going to do what I can to get better every day and enjoy the experience.”  With the life of a professional basketball player come some living changes as well- Snikkers will live with a teammate and share a car.  But he is optimistic about becoming accustomed to life in the Netherlands as well as touring other European countries.  “I’m really excited about seeing this part of the world.  I’ll even get to see my relatives that live in the Netherlands, which should be fun.”

Snikkers will be one of two Calvin graduates to be playing professional basketball overseas next year as 2005 graduate Dan Aultman is currently playing overseas in France. Snikkers is also the second student-athlete from Calvin this year to sign a professional contract as Joe Broekhuizen signed a pro contract with a team in the United Soccer League earlier this spring.

If Snikkers can maintain the same work ethic he brought with him to his four years at Calvin, there is reason to be optimistic that this time overseas will be productive for him both as a player and person.  Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek was quoted as saying “I’ve never had a player with the combination of strength and explosiveness that he possesses,” so there’s reason to believe that Snikkers can follow in the footsteps of other Calvin basketball alumni successfully.  It’s difficult to imagine a better representative for Calvin College in the Dutch Basketball League.

Posted in: Men's Basketball
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