Becoming a student-athlete at Calvin
Calvin is an NCAA Division III institution, and as such we focus on the true student-athlete experience. We offer 21 varsity sports, as well as club sports and intramurals. We do not award any athletic-based financial aid or scholarships.
Why choose Calvin?
The student-athlete experience
We want you to have a balanced experience here, so you will be cared for as a person first, a student second and an athlete third. Calvin can provide you with a profoundly academic education and an athletic experience that is rooted in a tradition of excellence.
Calvin teams have done extremely well at the national level:
- Men’s Basketball National Champions: 1992, 2000
- Women’s Cross Country National Champions: 1998, 1999
- Men’s Cross Country National Champions: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006
- Women’s Volleyball National Champions: 2010, 2013
- 15 teams have finished as National Runners-up
- Calvin ranks in the top 10 amongst all Division III institutitions for most Academic All-Americans.
We aren’t just looking for talented athletes at Calvin. We are looking for people who will embrace the student-athlete experience and become contributing members of the vibrant, Christian community present at Calvin.
Leadership development and Christian character
There are many opportunities to actively develop leadership abilities and strengthen your Christian character as a Calvin student-athlete.
Aaron Winkle, in the office of Christian Formation for Athletics and Team Development, works together with our coaches to provide optimal opportunities for our student-athletes to grow as individual and team leaders through retreats, book clubs, committees and mentoring opportunities.
What student-athletes have to say
“To get an excellent education, play on this basketball team, meet great people, and get all of this with a Christian perspective, is something that I really appreciate a lot. This whole experience has been a blessing in my life.”
“I came to Calvin because of the strength of its academic program, but being on the softball team has been a great experience for me. I have enjoyed being around people who have their focus on academics and career goals but also have a great passion for the sport of softball. It’s been the best of both worlds.”
“God’s hand has been very evident in my life. I’m so happy to have had the opportunities I had. I’m afraid to think of the person I would have been if I had made the decision to go somewhere else.”
“My teammates are like a second family to me and have been a huge part of my positive experience at Calvin.”
Division III athletics
Division III schools place highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all students' academic programs. They seek to establish and maintain an environment that values cultural diversity and gender equity among their student-athletes and athletics staff.
What Division III offers
- Opportunities to become well-rounded individuals who successfully integrate athletics and academics. Student-athletes are integrated into the student body, and they experience the full range of college life.
- Athletes who receive no financial aid related to their athletic skills and athletic departments that are staffed and funded like any other department in the university.
- Places special importance on the impact of athletics on the participants rather than on the spectators. The student-athlete's experience is of paramount concern.
- Encourages the development of sportsmanship and positive social attitudes. Coaches and players treat each other with respect and administrators work to foster a positive competitive environment.
- Commitment to providing equitable athletics opportunities for both genders and giving equal emphasis to men's and women's sports.
- Encourages participation by maximizing the number and variety of athletics opportunities available to student-athletes, placing primary emphasis on regional in-season and conference competition.
For more information about Division III, please see the official NCAA website's DIII page
Frequently asked questions
Do Calvin coaches actively recruit student-athletes?
Yes! Many coaches at Calvin seek out talented student-athletes to recruit to Calvin. Because most of our coaches are also full-time faculty members however, they have less time to get out and watch potential recruits. At the very least, most will contact interested and promising student-athletes by phone, email and/or regular mail.
What if I haven’t been contacted by a Calvin coach but I am interested in trying out for a sport at Calvin?
Don’t assume that if you haven’t heard from a coach at Calvin, they aren't interested. Be proactive:
- Fill out an online recruiting form available via each individual sports page.
- Contact the coach by email (see individual sports pages) or send a game tape which showcases your abilities.
- Set up a campus visit and request to meet with a particular coach during your visit. We will do our best to accommodate your request, but cannot guarantee our coaches will be available.
I’m from out of state—will that be a disadvantage to me if I want to play a sport at Calvin?
A large percentage of our student-athletes are not from the state of Michigan. Like our student body, our athletic teams represent the geographic diversity that characterizes Calvin.
If you live out of state, it is unlikely that a Calvin coach will come and watch you compete during the recruiting process, but this doesn’t mean you are at a disadvantage. It’s important to be proactive in contacting the coach of your sport at Calvin. Be sure to keep them posted on how your year/season goes both on an individual and a team basis.
How do I try out for a team at Calvin?
Fall sport tryouts (soccer, volleyball, cross country and golf) are held either shortly before the start of the school year or right at the beginning of the school year. Be sure to contact the coach for specific information about tryouts well before that time.
Winter and spring sports hold informational meetings during the first month of school where you can learn more about the timeline and process for tryouts. Meeting information will be posted in the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex and in other places around campus. You should also make sure to contact the coach about tryout information.
If I make a team, what kind of time commitment am I looking at?
In-season: Time commitment for our student-athletes isn’t that much different than high school. Teams practice for 2-3 hours on non-game days, typically from 3:30-5:30 or 5:30-7:30. Travel time for away games is usually no more than 3 hours.
What about off-season?
There are no mandatory practices or conditioning sessions, but coaches stress the importance of year-round strength and conditioning as well as skill-development work.
What’s the Difference Between NCAA Divisions I, II and III?
Division I member institutions have to sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women) with two team sports for each gender. Each playing season has to be represented by each gender as well. There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria. For sports other than football and basketball, Div. I schools must play 100% of the minimum number of contests against Div. I opponents -- anything over the minimum number of games has to be 50% Div. I. Men's and women's basketball teams have to play all but two games against Div. I teams, for men, they must play 1/3 of all their contests in the home arena. Schools that have football are classified as Div. I-A or I-AA. I-A football schools are usually fairly elaborate programs. Div. I-A teams have to meet minimum attendance requirements. Div. I-AA teams do not need to meet minimum attendance requirements. Div. I schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. I school cannot exceed.
Division II institutions have to sponsor at least four sports for men and four for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria -- football and men's and women's basketball teams must play at least 50% of their games against Div. II or I-A or I-AA opponents. For sports other than football and basketball, there are no scheduling requirements. There are not attendance requirements for football, or arena game requirements for basketball. There are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. II school must not exceed. Division II teams usually feature a number of local or in-state student-athletes. Many Division II student-athletes pay for school through a combination of scholarship money, grants, student loans and employment earnings. Division II athletics programs are financed in the institution's budget like other academic departments on campus. Traditional rivalries with regional institutions dominate schedules of many Division II athletics programs.
Division III institutions have to sponsor at least five sports for men and five for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are minimum contest and participant minimums for each sport. Division III athletics features student-athletes who receive no financial aid related to their athletic ability and athletic departments are staffed and funded like any other department in the university. Division III athletics departments place special importance on the impact of athletics on the participants rather than on the spectators. The student-athlete's experience is of paramount concern. Division III athletics encourages participation by maximizing the number and variety of athletics opportunities available to students, placing primary emphasis on regional in-season and conference competition.
In Their Own Words
My teammates are like a second family to me and have been a huge part of my positive experience at Calvin.” Calvin Athlete, Student
- Ryan Souders
- Athletic Recruitment Coordinator
As the Athletic Recruitment Coordinator at Calvin, Ryan Souders serves as the liaison between the coaching staff and the Admissions office. Our aim is to work together to communicate with interested student-athletes and to give them the best information possible to aid in the college decision-making process.