October 10, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

The success of the Calvin Knights seems to be an evergreen story. Having multiple athletic teams ranked nationally is as much of a Calvin tradition as the Cold Knight Plunge in February or Chaos Day in late August.

Athletic excellence

This fall is no exception. As of early October, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams, men’s and women’s soccer teams, and women’s volleyball team all find themselves ranked inside the Top 25 in Division III athletics. That accounts for five of Calvin’s nine varsity fall sports (which includes football which won’t begin NCAA Division III competition until next fall). Note: This also doesn’t include both of Calvin’s ice hockey teams which compete in ACHA Division I and III and are ranked #10 and #16 respectively.

While having five varsity teams in one season inside the Top 25 seems impressive—it’s not unusual for Calvin. Just this past year, both Calvin’s portfolio of fall and spring sports teams had five squads ranked inside the Top 25 at the same time.

Academic excellence

While Calvin’s student athletes’ excellence shows up in the standings and the polls, it also transcends the field and the court and shows up in the classroom. While the Division III philosophy is that athletics is part of a well-rounded college experience, Calvin University’s excellence in both academics and athletics is hard to match.

In fact, the athletic program produces more Academic All-Americans than almost all Division III institutions and ranks 20th all-time when considering all divisions. MIT, Notre Dame, Stanford, and the University of Michigan are among the company Calvin keeps near the top of that list. While these are individual awards, Calvin’s teams also stand out. This past academic year, 15 of Calvin’s 21 varsity athletics teams that compete in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or better, qualifying them for the MIAA Team GPA Award.


Beyond the accolades on the field and in the classroom, athletics director Jim Timmer is just as impressed with how his coaches and student athletes model excellence in their faith-based leadership.

“The integration of faith is the plus-plus [at Calvin],” said Jim Timmer, athletics director at Calvin University. “It is not an add on, it is central to the entire experience here, including athletics.”

Current National Rankings

Women’s Volleyball #8

Men’s Soccer #13

Women’s Cross Country #16

Women’s Soccer #16

Men’s Cross Country #25

Among the best all-time

Calvin has won 11 national championships in four different sports. This is the most in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Knights have also finished in the top four at the NCAA level 54 times in eight different sports, 27 of those as national runners-up. Calvin’s success on the national stage puts the program in elite company.

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