The first question, why do athletes want to play at Grace?
I think we are doing something really special here at GBC. I think players want to be a part of something exciting. Because we are not in a conference we are free to schedule any games we want. Going to Florida last year and Alaska and Hawaii this year gives players a chance to go to some places that they may not have a chance to visit. We can still play the schools around Grand Rapids that everyone knows and likes to play. Also, the players have the chance to go against some D-I and D-II teams that other schools don’t schedule. As far as why they stay….Grace is an awesome school with a great academic history. Once you are on campus everyone makes you feel so welcome. The college atmosphere is really great.
You mentioned the schedule. What is on for next year?
Well, we have contacted a number of D-I schools that have promised us games and we are waiting to hear back from them. We are still playing all of the teams from around West Michigan, Aquinas, Cornerstone, Calvin, Hope, and Davenport. We also play in a couple of new tournaments in other states next year. We have teams from all over the country contacting us. The teams in Arizona sound really good especially right now with all this snow here. This years schedule was probably the toughest in school history as far as upper divisions go. We have taken a few more losses but we were in all but one of them until the end and I feel like we are better for playing those games.
I know you have your “Men of Integrity” time with the team. What is the team doing outside of basketball this year?
Our Men of Integrity time is something we do to help prepare the guys for life after basketball. We have always said that we want the guys prepared to be good husbands, fathers, employees, community leaders, etc. after their playing time is done. We try to give them opportunities to participate in community projects while playing. This year we have visited a boy’s home and will again before the year is out. We have worked with basketball camps for local schools. We have helped unload trucks for local charity drives and made boxes. We are scheduled to go to a local children’s hospital to visit and prepare a meal for the families. We are also going to play at the Indiana State Prison. We have also had a number of speakers from within the Grace community, and a number from outside of Grace, that have come in and challenge the players. We have a bunch of things planned for after the season as well.
How has the team performed so far this season?
A coach is probably never satisfied and always wants to improve but we have done OK. Last year at this time we were 12-8 and right now we are 13-10. As I said, the schedule is very tough but we have been in every game except maybe one. We have let a few get away that we should have won. We haven’t practiced much because of the game schedule. I am happy that we are back in the gym and the game schedule is spread out so we can fix some things. This is a hard working group. I have noticed that the guys are in the gym before practice and stay after for some extra work. That’s a good sign.
Fianlly, what does next year look like?
This year isn’t done yet so I have tried not to think about it but we still have to be prepared. We will lose five players next year so we will have some holes to fill. We are hoping for a good recruiting year to go along with the players we have returning. We will have another experienced group next year but are always looking for that impact player to come in.
Thanks Coach. The Tigers return to action next Tuesday, January 12th, when they travel to Gary, Indiana to take on NAIA Indiana University Northwest.