For the seniors on the volleyball and men’s soccer teams, this weekend’s competitions were particularly special. Three years of hard work, dedication and, at times, frustration finally culminated into what would be their last home games of their career. At Van Andel Stadium, Senior captain David White stuck to his tried and true formula telling his team before the game, “What I expect out of you is your very best, positivity and hard work and I promise you that we will get a win.”
With these words of inspiration, the Flying Dutchmen topped the Trine Thunder in a 1-0 victory behind Jared Wondergem’s (’19) second- half goal. While the captain showed up feeling a mixture of emotions, his teammates and coach showed their unwavering support for their only senior. “The guys greeted me in the locker room with incredible excitement about Senior Night and in the pregame speech Coach Steven Smith said words regarding my time at Hope that I won’t ever forget,” White said. This year’s team that White has described as “one of a kind” put together a win that the lone senior felt ended his career in a suitable fashion. After a season full of ups and downs, the Flying Dutchmen seek to finish it off strong with a win tonight at Alma and another on Saturday at Adrian. Hopefully, the momentum of three-straight wins will propel them to victory in the MIAA semifinals on Nov. 1.
At DeVos Fieldhouse, Sophie Hackett (’18) soaked in her last regular season game with a Senior class that has scratched and clawed to attain the roles that they have on the team. The work ethic and culture that this has established in the program was evident as the Flying Dutch dominated Kalamazoo College winning three-straight sets. Having paid her dues along fellow Seniors Mallory Luke, Paige Baker, Leah Dunlap and Haley Muller, Hackett said that, “We all contribute on the court and have significant roles on the team, but that’s not how it has always been. We have all fought very hard to put ourselves in the positions that we are in now.” The team has boasts a 11-3 conference record on the season because of this work ethic.
Senior Night is not only about the players on the field, however, as made clear by the pregame ceremonies. As seniors are honored for their careers at Hope, they are accompanied by their parents or guardians. Any athlete knows that their success on the field could never be accomplished without the parents that drove them to practice day-in and day-out, took them around the country for tournaments, packed them after-school snacks and made sure they stayed humble throughout the entire process.
White reflected back on this, saying, “that moment with them was so special because they are my true support system and have always been that in everything I do.”
While each senior looks forward to a bright future after college, the reality of the impending end of their athletic careers is setting in. Hackett summed it up perfectly when she said, “we are very sad to be leaving a program and a game that has taught us so much. We will miss our teammates, […], we will miss our beautiful DeVos, we will miss our wonderfully supportive fans and we will miss being able to put on that jersey and play the game we love for a school we love.” Hope will miss the graduating seniors in all of their fall sports that have found continued success throughout their careers here.