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Defenders surge into season

By Mike Byker

By the time classes start the fall athletic season is already in full swing at Dordt College. Athletes report to campus for pre-season practice and tryouts begin in mid August—cross country, football, golf, volleyball, and soccer. By the time classes begin most teams have already participated in at least one competition. By October, basketball teams will be practicing and preparing for their season openers on November 2 in North Dakota.

Kate Du Mez

Kate Du Mez

The soccer teams are coached by Bill Elgersma. Coach Elgersma has been the women’s coach for four seasons and had a previous stint as men’s coach in the mid-late 1990s. This year’s team is built around returning all-GPAC performer and NAIA all-American honorable mention selection Ryan Coon and fellow senior Dan Koolhaas. The Defenders have been extremely competitive in each of their first ten games, losing only to nationally-ranked Hastings College.

The women’s team returns playmaker Kate Du Mez who leads a team in the hunt for a top-four finish in the conference. The squad is an extremely young one, with seven freshman and five sophomores making up the sixteen-player roster. With a smaller roster, the challenge for this team and coach Elgersma has been to remain healthy in what has become an increasingly physical sport.

This year’s cross-country teams are contrasts in experience. The women are led by Jen Kempers, Tami Wieringa and Steph Helmus. Kempers is a senior and will challenge for the GPAC individual crown while Wieringa and Helmus will put together a serious push for NAIA national meet qualification. The women have been searching for someone to fill the fourth and fifth runner positions and bring the team score down for coach Greg Van Dyke’s team. The men are led by Joel De Haan who had an early season injury that slowed him. De Haan narrowly missed a national meet berth last season. The rest of the team is made up almost entirely of freshman and sophomores. Jathan Robinson and Aaron Teerink are the only juniors on the team. The cross-country team runs five regular season meets before running in the GPAC championships in late October and the NAIA Region III championship is set for November 3. The NAIA national meet is scheduled for November 17.

Larissa Veldhuizen

Larissa Veldhuizen

The Dordt volleyball team raced to a 13-1 record to start the season and stand 24-6 in early October. The Defenders fought their way back to 5-4 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference after one week of play in October. Kristin De Ronde bounced back quickly from a knee injury suffered in January during the basketball season and has been the leader for this team along with senior setter Emily Van Voorst. Van Voorst is the only senior on the roster. The volleyball season culminates with the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament in early November and the NAIA Region III tournament, scheduled to be played in Sioux Falls on November 16 and 17.

The men’s golf team plays a split schedule, playing in meets throughout the fall and then continuing again in the spring. Jared Rempel has been the low man for Dordt most of the fall, picking up where he left off last spring when he earned all-GPAC honors. Jason Kroese, one of Dordt’s leading players last season, is in an overseas program this fall and will rejoin the team in the spring. Collin Broekhuis has also put together a good fall season, holding a sub-80 average.

The newest addition to the athletics programs took to the field on Labor Day for the very first Dordt College football game.

The newest addition to the athletics programs took to the field on Labor Day for the very first Dordt College football game.

The Dordt College football season is nearing the completion of their initial club season at the time of this writing. The team has been competitive in every game they have played and earned their first win on October 1 over a team from Briar Cliff 42-21. Derek Kammerlocher and Ben Robbins have been the key figures in a rushing attack that has averaged over 150 ground yards per game. The defense has been aggressive, forcing several turnovers. Fred Leyendekker has seven interceptions through five games and Willie Smoot leads the team in tackles as a linebacker. The Defender roster features players from across the United States and Canada. At the conclusion of this club season the coaching staff and players will begin preparing for next year when they are full members of the Great Plains Athletic Conference and will field a varsity team in 2008. Crowd support has been outstanding for this first football season with a capacity-plus crowd attending the first ever game on Labor Day and crowds of over 1500 in attendance at the two games against Briar Cliff.