January 06, 2023 | Jeff Febus

Trent Figg is the first head coach in Calvin University football history. Figg comes to Calvin from the University of Oregon.

The selection of Figg follows a national search that commenced in early November. The search committee that selected Figg from a national pool of candidates included representation from faculty, staff, administrators, and coaches.

A press conference to introduce Figg to the Calvin and West Michigan community is scheduled for the week of January 16-20.

Building a program, a culture

The 36-year old Figg will lead a Calvin football program that is in the process of bringing in its first recruiting class for the fall of 2023 and is slated for its first varsity competition in the fall of 2024. Earlier this fall, the university announced football as an addition to its offerings of 23 varsity intercollegiate sports.

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“We are thrilled to announce Trent Figg as our first head football coach and we are excited to welcome him and his family to the Calvin community,” said Calvin head director of athletics Dr. Jim Timmer. “During the search process, it became very apparent that Trent was a great fit to be our first head football coach. I am very confident he will do a tremendous job in building our football program and fostering strong relationships in the Calvin community and beyond.”

Calvin provost Dr. Noah Toly who co-chaired the Calvin football search committee offered his words of congratulations on the appointment of Figg. “We are excited to welcome Trent as our first head football coach. In starting a new program of this magnitude at Calvin, we know how important it is to have a coach who is first and foremost committed to creating a culture focused on developing the character of student athletes and to helping them holistically thrive here,” said Toly. “Those who recommended Trent to us originally and those who have given references to his character, skills, and abilities throughout this process have confirmed Trent to be the ideal candidate to lead the Calvin football team.”

Bringing a depth of experience

In 2022, Figg served at the University of Oregon as the football program’s senior offensive analyst under current head coach Dan Lanning. Oregon recently completed a 10-3 season that included a 28-27 win over the University of North Carolina in the Holiday Bowl.

A native of Chillicothe, Missouri, Figg is a 2008 graduate of William Jewell College (Mo.). He was a four-year member of the William Jewell football team as a defensive back. He graduated with degrees in secondary education and physical education. He later earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Northwest Missouri State in 2013.

Figg remained at his alma mater as a graduate assistant from 2009-2012 and worked with the football program’s defensive backs, running backs and later outside linebackers.

His first full-time football coaching position came at Division II Southern Arkansas University where he served as special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach. He later became the defensive coordinator at William Jewell College from 2015-2016 where his defense led its conference in quarterback sacks and tackles for loss.

He returned to Southern Arkansas as defensive coordinator in 2017. His Southern Arkansas defense was ranked as the No. 2 unit in the Great American Conference.

His first Division I job came in 2018 when took over as special teams coordinator and running backs coach at Missouri State. He later spent two years (2019-2021) at the University of Hawai’i. At Hawai’i, he began as chief of staff of the football program. After nine months he was named associate head coach of the defense and defensive backs coach. While at Hawai’i, Figg coached a Jim Thorpe national defensive player of the week and had a first time all conference safety who was tied for 2nd in the country in interceptions. Two of his defensive backs – Eugene Ford and Cortez Davis – later signed NFL free-agent contracts.

Last year Figg joined the Oregon football program where he served under Lanning. Lanning was the defensive coordinator of the 2021 University of Georgia national championship football team.

Seeing opportunities

“I would first like to thank God for putting me in this situation. I also want to give thanks to provost Dr. Noah Toly and to head athletics director Dr. Jim Timmer and associate athletics director Dr. Amber Warners as well as the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity and for taking the time to get to know me and for letting me get to know them,” said Figg. “I feel extremely blessed and honored to receive this position and I do not take it lightly. Adding football to its athletics offerings is a significant step for Calvin University. It’s an opportunity that my family and I are extremely excited about. We can’t wait to get to Calvin and get to work.”

Figg and his wife Tori are parents to three sons, Titus (8), Thomas (5) and Tobias (3). Tori is a former women’s volleyball player at William Jewell with the couple meeting during their time with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as William Jewell students.

Pursuing excellence together

Figg is looking forward to joining a Calvin athletics department that has annually finished in the top 30 of the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings with its teams competing regularly for conference championships and national tournament berths.

“Calvin is adding football to come and join its successful athletics community, not be its own entity,” said Figg. “That truly excites me and is one of the reasons Calvin is so special.”

Taking a holistic approach

Figg’s football coaching philosophy has foundational tenets.

“We want to recruit great young men who want to grow as Christians, be at Calvin, love Calvin and love to compete.”

“We want our players to graduate and grow to be the best Christian men they can possibly be. We want them to be great husbands, fathers and servant-leaders who will be ready to enter the real world and give back to society. A Calvin degree is a significant achievement. Our student-athletes will be here to be serious about academics and about life. We want their Calvin experience to be something that sets the foundation for the rest of their lives.”

“We want Christian young men who are tough. We will be building a program from scratch which will present some early challenges so we will need our players to have toughness.”

“On the football field, we want to be explosive, both on offense and defense. We will be looking for dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball. We want to stretch the field on offense and put pressure on opponents with our defense. We want to run systems that our players will enjoy and thrive playing in.”

Figg is grateful for the coaches that have shaped and molded him during his coaching tenure. “I have worked for seven different head coaches and with many other assistant coaches and I am thankful for everyone of them,” said Figg. “They have helped play a major role in putting me in the position that I am in today.”

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