Calvin Men's Basketball 1992: Blazing a Trail of National Champions

Calvin Men's Basketball 1992: Blazing a Trail of National Champions

More than 20 years later, the memories of winning a national championship remain bright for the members of the 1991-92 Calvin men’s basketball team.

The 20-year national championship anniversary took place last March and marked the day that the Knights, under the leadership of head coach Ed Douma, captured the first national team championship in Calvin athletics history with a 62-49 victory over the University of Rochester, N.Y. in Springfield, Ohio.

The victory over Rochester in the 1992 NCAA Division III Finals at Wittenberg University culminated an historic run that saw the Knights post an overall record of 31-1 including an unblemished 12-0 MIAA mark.

The 31-win total remains the high-water mark in Calvin men’s basketball history and also opened the door for eight more national team championships at Calvin with the men’s basketball team adding another national title in 2000, the men’s cross country team winning four titles (2000, 2003, 2004 & 2006), the women’s cross country team winning two (1998 & 1999) and the women’s volleyball team winning just recently in 2010.

Matt Harrison, who ran the squad’s offense, now works as a Young Life Coordinartor in Lexington, Kentucky.  Chris Knoester, who Coach Ed Douma called one of the most athletic players on the team, works as a sociology professor at The Ohio State University.  Mark Lodewyk, a sophomore on the championship team, is the Principal at San Jose Valley Christian High School in California.

The reunion marked the first time the team had been in the same place since 1992, but immediately upon reconvening they didn’t skip a beat.

“It’s been twenty years but we got right back into it,” said Steve Honderd (pictured right), Calvin’s all-time leading scorer and the 1992 Final Four Most Valuable Player and Player of the Year.

“Twenty years later it doesn’t feel that long ago at all,” said Mike Langeland of the class of 1993. 

“We get together and things are right back to where they were.  There’s a genuine care with this team,” said Brian Westra.

Langeland also noted that reflecting on the season 20 years after the fact allowed the team to re-experience some memories in a fresh and unique way.  During lunch on Saturday, the team watched a highlight video of the 1992 season.

“There are practices and games that look different now than they did at the time.  Those were really defining moments,” Langeland said.  “Everything reminds you of something in a game or practice.”

Those practices and games played a part in the team’s chemistry, which Douma recalls fondly.

“Everyone on that team did their part, whether they were on the floor or whether they were on the bench,” said Douma. 

The reunion also gave the team an opportunity to check out the campus, which has gotten quite a facelift in the past two decades. 

“It’s impressive what they’ve got here.  I hope the students don’t take it for granted,” said Westra. 

“It’s great to see all the improvements to the campus,” said Langeland.  “This facility is amazing and the Fieldhouse was also a fantastic place to play.”

“The whole athletic complex is great to see.  There have been a lot of improvements,” said Honderd.

And there, from their perch in Van Noord Arena’s hospitality suite, the 1992 team watched the 2012 team beat Trine 78-51.  The game offered the team a chance to revel in the progress of a program that they left a lasting mark on.  But most of all, it was a chance to remember.

“It’s hard to put into words what it felt like when we ran out and there were 4500 people in Knollcrest that went crazy,” said Langeland.

The national championship banner will continue to hang from the rafters in the Van Noord Arena.  It gives fans and current teams a chance to remember the athletic program’s first national championship. But, for a day in the 2012 season, the members of that team and their coach had a chance to remember how it got there.