Calvin Bere' and Tiemersma Award Alumni Recognized

Calvin Bere' and Tiemersma Award Alumni Recognized

On Saturday, February 6, Calvin College honored its past recipients of the Bere' Memorial and Kay Tiemersma Awards. Over 40 individuals gathered at Calvin for a luncheon in the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex and then a public recognition at halftime of the Calvin men's basketball game against Olivet.
The Beré Memorial Award has been presented annually by Calvin since 1951.  The Beré honors the top senior male student-athlete, based on athletic ability, scholastic rank, character and leadership, and is selected by the school's male coaches and the members of the Athletics Committee.  It is given in memory of Joe Beré, a Calvin student who was killed in a 1949 auto accident on his way to watch a Calvin basketball game.  The winner is selected by the coaches of the school's men's sports and an Athletics Committee made up of students and non-physical education department faculty members.

Calvin has given the Tiemersma award--presented annually to the top senior female student-athlete since 1975.  The award honors Kay Tiemersma, the first woman physical education teacher in the member schools of the Christian Schools International organization, and a pioneer in women's sports.  Its presentation is based on athletic ability, scholastic standing, and character and leadership.  The winner is selected by the coaches of the school's women's sports and an Athletics Committee made up of students and non-physical education department faculty members.

The complete list of Bere' and Tiemersma Award recipients includes a wealth of notable facts.

Dave VerMerris (1968), Mark Stacy (1980), and Dirk Pruis (1982) were Bere' Award winners that were three-sport athletes at Calvin. VerMerris was a part of Calvin's soccer, swimming and diving and track and field squads. Stacy meanwhile was a member of the golf, soccer and basketball teams at Calvin. Pruis competed in golf, swimming and diving and track and field.

There have been several three-sport athletes that have received Tiemersma Award honors. Athletes in that group include Bonnie Knaack in 1977 (field hockey, basketball and softball), Laura Vroon in 1984 (cross country, track and field, softball), Kim Lautenbach in 1986 (volleyball, basketball and track and field), Betsy Wilgenburg in 1993 (volleyball, basketball and track and field) and Holly Ondersma in 1995 (volleyball, basketball and softball).

Two sets of sisters were recently honored with the Tiemersma Award with Carissa Verkaik (2013) and Breanna Verkaik (2015) both receiving the honor as basketball and track and field athletes while Rebecca Kamp (2012) and and Lizzie Kamp (2013) were so honored as volleyball players.  The first set of sisters to receive the Tiemersma Award however were Sarah Ondersma (1991) and Holly Ondersma (1995).

There is one set of brothers on the Bere' list as cross country and track and field standouts Doug Diekema (1981) and Dan Diekema (1985) are on the honor list. In addition, there is a brother-sister combo with men's soccer player Ed Wilgenburg (1990) and volleyball player Betsy Wilgenburg (1993). There is one married couple from the swimming and diving ranks - Dirk Pruis (1982) and Liesel Pruis (1988). There is also one father-daughter combination as track and field star Ken Tanis (1960) and field hockey standout Leslie Tanis (1989) are part of the group.
Several of the honorees have been either individual national champions or members of national championship teams at Calvin.  

On the men's side, John Lumkes (1990) was an individual national champion in the steeplechase in track and field and later ran in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials in the event. In 2012, Nick Kramer was not only the Bere' Award recipient, but also the NCAA III Champion in the steeplechase. In basketball, Steve Honderd (1993) and Chris Knoester (1994) were part of Calvin's 1992 national championship team while Aaron Winkle (2000) was part of Calvin's 2000 national championship squad. In men's cross country, Dan Hoekstra (2002), Joel Klooster (2003), Tim Avery (2004), Tim Finnegan (2007) and Jed Christiansen (2009) were part of national championship teams as Calvin won crowns in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2006.  

On the women's side, Betsy Haverkamp (1997) was an individual national champion in the 3,000 meters in track and field while Annie VanderLaan (2003) and Christine Hendricks (2006) were both individual national champions in track and field's heptathlon. Sarah Wittingen (2008) was an individual national champion in the 400 meter hurdles while Kristi Van Woerkom (1999) was a member of a national championship 4x400 meter relay team in track and field. Van Woerkom was an NCAA III All-American in both swimming and in track and field. In swimming, Becky Weima (2006) was a multiple individual national champion in the freestyle events in swimming while former teammate Erica Deur (2009) was a multiple individual national champion on the diving boards.

Amber Blankespoor (1990) has the distinction of playing in a national championship final in volleyball in 1986 and then coming back to coach her alma mater to national championships in volleyball in both 2010 and 2013. Blankespoor is one of several Bere' or Tiemersma Award recipients to have gone on to teach as professors and/or serve as a head coach at Calvin College.

Other individuals to have done so include Mary Schutten (1976), Deb Bakker (1982), Sharon Boeve (1985), Don Vroon (1956), Dave VerMerris (1968), Gregg Afman (1976), Jim Timmer (1990) and Dirk Pruis (1982).  

Now co-director of athletics at Calvin, Timmer addressed the gathered group on February 6 as did fellow co-director of athletics Dr. Nancy Meyer. "It is with great pleasure that we welcome you back to campus today," said Meyer. "We are delighted to have you as our guests and to bring you here together as a group."

A Bere' Award winner himself, Timmer told the group that the Bere' and Tiemersma Awards are honors that become more meaningful with time. "This is an award that you should continue to treasure," said Timmer. "It means so much more than achievement on the athletic or even academic field. It is about being a servant-leader and as I look around here today, I see servant-leaders that represent our institution and its mission."