Spring Break is past.
The end of the semester isn’t that far away. There’s a lot of work yet to do, but, plans for the summer and beyond are taking shape.
Plans that probably seemed concrete in September have now morphed into something different for many on a college campus. One of the many lessons I’ve learned is life here rarely follows the script we have in our heads.
The same is true for student-athletes. Some come in expecting a four-year career. Some want to give it a try and figure out where they stack up in the scheme of a team. Some develop other interests, life takes a turn, and the script changes.
Which brings us to this Behind The Shield.
I care greatly for all of the individuals who take the time to write an entry, but, this one is especially close to my heart.
My son Klay enrolled here in August 2015. He was involved in a multitude of activities in high school. Baseball, cross country, track, soccer, choir, orchestra and basketball—all of those activities had a hold on him at one time or another but basketball always held special place for him.
Coming to Dordt he had the opportunity to play another year and see what came after.
Little did he or his parents know where this path would lead.
My takeaway from his nearly four years here is this…..
Listen to those who see more in you than you may see in yourself, and, when opportunities come to be equipped to be servant leaders and to develop academically (professionally) run with it.
Run with it.
As an incoming freshman, I was excited to have the opportunity to play college basketball at Dordt College. Basketball always played a large part in my life, not to mention my lifelong fandom for Dordt basketball.
I was honest with myself and knew that JV collegiate basketball was probably the highest level of basketball that I would achieve.
But, in the back of my mind, I wondered if there was any possibility for me to play varsity basketball at the collegiate level.
But, in the back of my mind, I wondered if there was any possibility for me to play varsity basketball at the collegiate level. As the spring semester rolled around my freshman year, I realized the glimpse of hope that I had to make it to varsity wouldn’t become a reality.
I love(d) basketball and wanted to stay connected with the men’s basketball program, just not in a playing capacity. That is when I approached Coach Douma and expressed my interest in being a student-assistant with the men’s basketball team. The summer passed, and I was formally given the opportunity to be a student-assistant with the JV program for my sophomore and junior years.
Coaching is something that has always intrigued me. I wanted to learn more about basketball. I wanted to experience basketball through a different lens. I wanted to see if coaching basketball would be something that I could see myself doing in the future. Is there a better way to gain this experience than through a low-pressure situation like the jv men’s basketball team? I’m not so sure that there is. Oh, and you receive a scholarship ta-boot.
I wanted to see if coaching basketball would be something that I could see myself doing in the future. Is there a better way to gain this experience than through a low-pressure situation like the jv men’s basketball team?
My sophomore year, my first year as a student assistant was great. I was learning a lot about personnel management, planning practices, game-management, and so much more. There was a small adjustment period where I didn’t always exactly feel that I was learning how to coach, because it was difficult to practice that as a sophomore coaching people that I played with the year before; as well as the players that I was only months older than. Because of this, and my passive personality; I fell into a rhythm of being more of a “glorified manager” type of student-assistant. This made life better for Coach Schwebke, but, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.
Because of this, and my passive personality; I fell into a rhythm of being more of a “glorified manager” type of student-assistant.
I was excited to receive the opportunity to be a student-assistant with the JV program again in my junior season. I was looking forward to being more hands-on with the coaching, hoping that having a multi-year gap would help with some sort of “seniority”. I knew that I needed to be more aggressive in coaching and have more of a willingness to raise my voice and be out there. Little did I know that I would get a little bit of head-coaching experience in my second year as a student assistant.
Throughout my second year as a student assistant I was happy with where I was at. Everything began to feel like more of a coaching experience, rather than the feeling I had the past year of being a glorified manager. I was much more involved in basketball instruction, had a larger voice with what would go on during games, and I was simply getting a better feel for what was taking place during a game. I was beginning to get comfortable, that’s when a sudden change took place.
I enjoyed working with the players and helping them work on their craft. It was fun “calling the shots” in games: Having control in substitutions, in-game adjustments, creating practice plans, etc. I was gaining valuable coaching experience as a junior in college, and having a blast doing it!
Late in the 2017-18 jv men’s season, myself, with the help of Lucas Den Herder and Jeremy Vander Woude, became responsible for the JV practices and games in the beginning of February. This was an experience that helped me decide coaching was something that I really wanted to continue to do. I enjoyed working with the players and helping them work on their craft. It was fun “calling the shots” in games: Having control in substitutions, in-game adjustments, creating practice plans, etc. I was gaining valuable coaching experience as a junior in college, and having a blast doing it!
Here comes senior season. There was a coaching change from Coach Douma to Coach Van Haaften, which created some intrigue on my part to learn from a new head coach as a student assistant with the varsity men’s team. I was looking forward to learning from a different coach, someone who has had significant success as a head coach at the collegiate level. The plan for senior year was to be a student assistant with the men’s basketball team, continuing to learn and observe from Coach Van Haaften. Being a student-assistant with the varsity men’s team would be a comfortable position.
When school began, though, plans changed once again. I was asked to be the head JV women’s basketball coach. I was nervous, and initially declined the position. I was afraid to be uncomfortable. I was nervous to work with and coach women on a daily basis.
I was afraid to be uncomfortable. I was nervous to work with and coach women on a daily basis.
That’s when Coach Harmsen called again. The women’s program still needed a JV coach. After a great deal of prayer and conversation with my wife, I ended up accepting the position. Although, my reasons for declining the position in the first place were still there in my head.
In retrospect, this past season was an absolute blast. Sure, I was uncomfortable at first, but the women on the team made this adjustment easily for me. We won some games, but that wasn’t the best part of this season. These women had a love for basketball and were genuine friends with each other. They wanted to get better, which made my job a whole lot easier. Because of these things, practices were fun and productive. This entire season was fun and productive.
We won some games, but that wasn’t the best part of this season. These women had a love for basketball and were genuine friends with each other. They wanted to get better, which made my job a whole lot easier.
I couldn’t be happier that I accepted this position. This past year was great, so much so that I applied for and accepted a position at Dordt College as the Graduate Assistant with the women’s basketball prorgram for the next two school years.
My basketball journey through Dordt College is different than what most people experience or expect, but I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world.
I’ve got a little bit of advice for freshmen. Take advantage of opportunities that interest you. If you have opportunities to learn more about what interests you, take them! If you have questions throughout the journey, pray about it and trust the path that He makes clear to you.
It is very possible to have an integral role in collegiate sports without playing, and there are many opportunities here on campus to feed your competitive nature.