After building an impressive football resume filled with multiple accomplishments, Hope College’s new football Coach, Peter Stuursma, came back home to do something special with the Dutchmen. The former running back and ’93 Hope graduate comes back from coaching at East Grand Rapids, but before that, he enjoyed a spell, serving as Hope’s defensive coordinator in ’99.
Originally intending to go into something business-related, Peter Stuursma decided he wanted to go into coaching while he was still a student. Having always loved football, Stuursma spoke to his advisor, Dean Kreps about switching. Coach Stuursma said, “I really wanted to be involved in the development and education of young people, because I felt that sports gave me so much and I felt those life lessons could be enhanced by me being involved in it with others.”
After multiple personal and team accomplishments, as well as the experience he has acquired through the years, Coach Stuursma has become a firm believer in getting better on a daily basis because he and the entire coaching staff aim to consistently improve each day. “We’ve been using this slogan and I really believe in it, and it’s that we need to get one percent better each day”.
He continued to say that “every day is an opportunity to get better. Every day is an opportunity to make sure that we are doing the very best that we can to get better. Some days we’re going to get a lot better, and other days, we’re not going to get that much better, but we have to strive to do that every day.” This coaching philosophy he believes in, is what he wants for his players both on and off the field because he wants it to be a daily process. He needs his players to be a good group of guys. “I always say killer bears on the field, and huggy bears off the field.”
Looking at the challenges and the things that happen as a team, Coach Stuursma believes that it’s important to always look at the things that change, as things do not always go the way one may have planned them to. He says that when striving to improve, there are times that one may not feel like improvement really happened. “I was not really happy about the way we performed on Saturday. I didn’t feel like we got one percent better. I feel like we worked and played hard, but we didn’t match up.” Coach Stuursma says, “It’s my job to make sure that our staff goes back to work, our players go back to work, we regroup and the ultimate responsibility lies with our coaching staff to make sure our players understand how to get better.”
Taking his inspiration from some of his favorite players , such as Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, he believes that one quality he loves that goes through all sports is the spirit of competitiveness. “When you look at stars today, I don’t really know who a star is, but I like people who compete”. He continues, “I like Michael Phelps and the way he competes. I like Michael Jordan and the way he competed. I’ve heard that during practices, they would have to calm him down, because of how hard he played and how hard he competed. Some of the best players I’ve ever coached, and people I do coach right now, are people who compete”.
In this spirit of competitiveness, he believes that there’s the need to have his players strike the balance and not cross the line between competitiveness and indiscipline. “The team, to me, has an incredible parallel to life,” he said, comparing the team to a family. He continues; “Families have ups and downs, good times and bad times, disagreements and conflicts. Working through those things, like a family, is important. Like a family structure, there are expectations on how to behave, and that is the same way in how we have expectations for our guys. If we’re all pushing the rock together, then its gonna get down that hill a lot faster, but if we’re pushing from different angles it doesn’t move very well”.
Apart from his career in football, Coach Stuursma enjoys spending time with his actual family because that’s what keeps him going. He and his wife Amy, who is also a Hope ’93 grad have three children. They are Hannah, 16, Robbie 14 and Mitchell, 11. He enjoys being able to step back and spend time with them. “Football can be consuming. Coaching can be consuming, especially at the college level.” He goes on to say, “It’s important to me to spend time with them whenever I can because we love to have fun.”
Hope recently had a bad loss at Defiance and is now with two losses into the season. It will be good to see how the team regroups and bounces back from a very rough start this season. The coaching staff, players and students certainly believe they will. The Dutchmen will go up against Concordia University in their next game, which will be away, and the next home game at Smith Stadium will be on Oct. 1 as they go up against Olivet College and look to win.