GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Mark Christner has been named head women’s basketball coach at Calvin College.
The move is a homecoming for Christner as he is a 1999 Calvin College graduate.
A native of Big Rapids, Michigan, Christner returns to Calvin after spending the previous nine years as head men’s basketball coach at Waynesburg University (Pa.). Prior to serving as head men’s basketball coach at Waynesburg, Christner spent eight years as an assistant coach with the Calvin men’s basketball program and three years as an assistant coach with the Calvin women’s basketball program.
“It is with great excitement that I welcome Mark Christner home as our new women’s basketball coach,” said Calvin Director of Athletics Dr. Jim Timmer Jr. “He is well-versed in the mission of our institution and he has a deep love for Calvin College. He also has a strong understanding of what it takes to produce a successful basketball program, both on and off the court. I am confident that Mark will do a tremendous job as our head women’s basketball coach and our athletic department is looking forward to having him rejoin our family.”
Timmer also thanked members of the search committee led by Calvin Associate Athletics Director Dr. Nancy Meyer. “I would like to personally thank Nancy Meyer for her tremendous work with the search for a head women’s basketball coach,” said Timmer. “She did an outstanding job and I am extremely grateful for her work with this task.”
Christner is ready to get started at his alma mater. “I am extremely grateful and blessed to have this opportunity,” said Christner. “I would like to personally thank Dr. Timmer and Dr. Meyer for extending this opportunity to me. They have both been wonderful to me in this process. It is a bittersweet in that I am leaving my Waynesburg family. What makes this change much easier is that I will be rejoining a family that is also very close to my heart in Calvin College. I am looking forward to joining a program with a strong tradition and a good base of players. The MIAA is a nationally-known conference for women’s basketball and we have work to do to keep moving upwards. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Christner will come to Grand Rapids with his wife Sara (Plasman) Christner and son Leo (13) and daughters Elin (10) and Nora (8). His wife Sara is an alumna of both the Calvin women’s basketball and Calvin softball programs.
At Waynesburg, Christner took over a men’s basketball program that had posted a 2-22 record the year prior to his arrival. He led the Yellow Jackets to five double-digit win campaigns including an 18-11 record during the 2014-15 season that saw Waynesburg reached the President’s Athletics Conference Tournament Championship game. This past academic year, Christner has also served as Waynesburg's Assistant Athletic Director in charge of compliance and player and coach development.
During his eight years (2002-2010) as an assistant men’s basketball coach and head men’s junior varsity coach at Calvin, Christner helped lead the Knights to four berths in the NCAA Division III national tournament. During his time on the bench, Calvin posted an impressive 158-73 record and won three Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) regular season titles. Over that same stretch, the Knights won three MIAA tournament titles and advanced all the way to the NCAA Division III National Semifinals in 2005.
Prior to working with the men’s team, Christner broke in as a coach at Calvin with the women’s basketball team from 1999 to 2002. In 2000, the Calvin women made it all the way to the NCAA Division III Tournament Round of 16
Christner earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999 from Calvin, where he majored in history and minored in physical education with an emphasis in coaching. He went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in physical education with a pedagogy emphasis in 2005 from Western Michigan University. At Calvin, he played two years on the Calvin junior varsity men’s basketball team and one year on the varsity.
He is also an experienced teacher. Christner was a Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, & Sport (HPERDS) instructor at Calvin from 2006 until he left the school and was an adjunct instructor in the same program from 2004 to 2006. He also spent four years (2000-2004) as a social studies teacher at both the Creston Christian School and the Holy Spirit School in Grand Rapids, Mich.