Meet John Ross
John Ross heads recently completed his ninth year at the helm of the Calvin men's tennis and women’s basketball programs. A native of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Ross arrived at Calvin in the fall of 2003 after spending the previous four years at Earlham College (IN), a member of the NCAA Division III North Coast Athletic Conference. At Earlham College, Ross served as head men’s and women’s tennis coach and assistant men’s basketball coach.
In nine years as head women's basketball coach, Ross has compiled a won-loss record of 207-48 for a winning percentage of .812 that includes four MIAA regular season titles, six trips to the NCAA III Tournament and three berths in the NCAA III Tournament Elite Eight. Ross is currently ranked 9th in winning percentage among active NCAA III women's basketball coaches.
In his first year as Calvin women’s basketball coach, Ross led the Knights to a 23-4 overall record and a 13-1 conference mark that allowed Calvin to claim its first outright MIAA title since 1998. For his efforts, Ross was named MIAA Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year. He then continued on to lead the Calvin men’s tennis team to a third place conference finish. He followed by leading Calvin to a school record 25 wins during the 2004-05 season and Calvin’s first-ever trip to the Elite Eight of the NCAA III Tournament. The Knights made another trip to the NCAA III Tournament in 2005-06, finishing 23-5 overall and in second place in the MIAA at 14-2.
The 2006-07 season was landmark year for Ross as he led Calvin to a 28-3 overall record and a berth in the quarterfinals of the NCAA III Tournament with the Knights falling to eventual national champion DePauw University. The 28 wins marked a Calvin single-season record with the national quarterfinal berth Calvin’s second in the last three years. Ross also led Calvin to its second MIAA regular season title in the last four years as the Knights finished their conference slate 16-0, becoming just the second team in MIAA women’s basketball history to achieve a 16-0 conference record.
During the 2006-07 season, Calvin achieved a national ranking as high as number-two in both the D3hoops.com and USA Today/ESPN Top-25 polls. Ross was later selected as the Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year by both D3hoops.com and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). During the year, he also coached Lisa Winkle who was named the recipient of the prestigious Josten's Trophy - given to the top female student-athlete in Division III women's basketball each year. Calvin returned to the NCAA III Tournament during the 2009-10 season. Calvin finished the year with an overall record of 24-5. Ross coached Carissa Verkaik who was named the Division III Freshman of the Year by d3hoops.com.
In 2010-11, Ross led Calvin to a share of the MIAA regular season title which included a victory over (then) top-ranked Hope College. Calvin then defeated Hope again a month later to win the MIAA Tournament title for the first time since 2005 to advance to the NCAA III Tournament for the second straight year. Calvin then advanced to the second round of the NCAA III Tournament, finishing the year with an overall record of 25-5. For his efforts, Ross was named the Michigan Women's Basketball Coach of the Year by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM).
In 2011-12, Ross led Calvin to MIAA regular season and MIAA Tournament titles. His team also matched a Calvin single-season record for victories, finishing 28-2. The Knights reached the NCAA III Tournament quarterfinals by defeating second-ranked and undefeated University of Chicago 68-50 on Chicago's home floor. In a February win over Kalamazoo, Ross earned his 200th victory at the helm of the Calvin women's basketball program.
Ross earned a Masters of Science degree from Eastern Illinois University in 1994. He majored in physical education with a concentration in exercise physiology. Ross received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1990. At Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Ross was a member of the men’s tennis team from 1987-1989.
Ross began his basketball coaching career in 1991 as an assistant coach at Matoon High School in Mattoon, Illinois, a position he continued until 1994. During the 1998-99 season, he served as a volunteer assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Ironically, that Wisconsin-Oshkosh team would advance to the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA III Tournament after edging Calvin 61-59 at the Calvin Fieldhouse in a national semi-quarterfinal game the night before.
Ross then accepted a teaching and coaching position at Earlham College in 1999 and served as an assistant men’s basketball coach through the 2002-2003 season. During his four years on the Earlham men’s basketball coaching staff, the Quakers recorded a record of 53-53 after having gone just 117-350 over the previous 20 years. Earlham’s 2000-2001 team finished 16-10 overall and reached the NCAC Tournament semifinals. From 1999-2002, Ross was an employee at the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball summer team camp, working with former Wisconsin women's basketball coach Jane Albright. In 2002, he served as director of the University of Wisconsin summer team camp.
“I have known John for many years and have found him to be an excellent teacher and motivator,” says Albright. “John will bring success to whatever he is involved in. He has great passion for student-athletes, the game of basketball and the Lord. Who can beat that combination?”
In addition to his coaching duties, Ross is teaching core activity classes in Calvin’s Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sport department.