By Kristen Smith
I am continually amazed by what Kalamazoo College student-athletes are able to accomplish in four years. The class of 2011 continued a long tradition of setting records, winning MIAA championships, and competing at NCAA championships. Our student-athletes also compete academically and many are named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll or earn other significant academic awards.
The 2011 senior class had many notable accomplishments. Highlights from the fall included Cory McCain setting a school record for most career touchdown receptions and earning a spot on Team Stars & Stripes for the Division III all-star game played in Mexico; Larisa Grinvalds earning All-MIAA Second Team honors and moving into the record books with the fourth-highest total for career digs; Dane Carey and Ben Darling earning All-MIAA and All-Region honors in men’s soccer; and the women’s soccer team’s 1-0 win over Calvin, which was ranked 11.
Winter highlights included the men’s swimming and diving team winning the MIAA championship and finishing eighth in the country at the NCAA III Championships; Craig Fleming’s national championship in the 100 freestyle , second place finish in the 200 freestyle, and third place finish in the 50 freestyle; Fleming’s MIAA Most Valuable Swimmer honors; Brian Bazzell’s All-MIAA honors and contributions to multiple All-American relay teams; Kaitlin Weeks’ school record performances in women’s swimming; and Ryan Clark moving into the 1,000-point club in men’s basketball.
The men’s tennis team capped off the spring sports season with its 73rd consecutive MIAA championship and 29th straight trip to the NCAA III Tournament with Tom Cafmeyer earning All-MIAA Second Team honors; the women’s tennis team finished third in the MIAA with Kari Larson being selected All-MIAA Second Team; and the baseball team defeated 15th ranked Adrian College in extra innings on the final day at Woodworth Field.
Equally impressive were the academic awards. Dane Carey was named a Scholar All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, while Craig Fleming and Brian Bazzell were awarded prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships.
Beyond the performances in athletic competition and in the classroom, the entire campus and especially this senior class will always remember #76 Noah Kokoszka. Noah was a force on the football field, but had an even greater presence on campus and touched the lives of so many. In addition to the fond memories of Noah, I will always remember the way this campus and our student-athletes pulled together and supported each other in a way that truly embodies what it means to be a part of the Hornet family.
Life, like sports, has its ups and downs. Lessons are learned in victory and defeat, through triumph and tragedy, and in practice and study. I have no doubt that the lessons learned during their four years at Kalamazoo College will prepare each of our seniors for the unique and exciting paths that lie ahead.