In 21 years as sports information director at Calvin College, Jeff Febus has seen it all at Zuidema Field: undefeated seasons, NCAA tournament shoot-out victories and losses, and countless MIAA championships. But up until this season, Febus has had to work from a table on the track, or when weather got bad, from a concrete dugout between the benches.
With technology becoming more important in the sports information field, from computer statistics to live-stream video, and the promotion of Calvin’s lacrosse program to a varsity sport, a press box became a necessity. And with the completion of a press box this fall, after two decades, Febus was finally able to walk out to Zuidema Field without double-checking the forecast or ensuring he had enough plastic bags to use as rain protection for his electronic equipment.
“I think I’ve promised Jeff a press box every year for 10 years now,” said Calvin men’s athletic director Jim Timmer, “and to see it finally happen is rewarding on a number of fronts, especially for our sports information people.”
Director of women’s athletics Nancy Meyer said the press box idea has been considered seriously for the past four or five years. The idea of a stadium then came up, but given the financial uncertainty, it was decided a cheaper option was more fitting.
The addition of lacrosse in 2013 only pushed up the timeline. Not only did Febus have to deal with the unpredictable fall, but the wet and cold conditions of the late spring as well.
“Dr. Timmer and I met with the cabinet about the field situation around 18 months ago and talked about the critical need for the press box and even filming,” said Meyer. “Especially for lacrosse, it is league mandated, so we’ve been put into a difficult position without a press box.”
The building project required the help and expertise of a number of different groups and individuals around campus.
“This isn’t a huge building project, but it followed the model,” said Timmer. “The athletic and kinesiology department expressed a need to our development officers, and Ken Erffmeyer and his group did a good job getting the support that we needed. Once that money was raised, we turned it over to our physical plant, who has done a really great job coordinating with the outside contractor, and CIT with the (video camera and internet connection for) live streaming. Finally, Justin TeBrake has done a great job coordinating all that for the athletic department.”
In the end, the building of the press box is as much a thank you to Febus for his two decades of work and dedication to Calvin as it is an amenity for those in the athletics and sports information departments to enjoy.
“I’ve known him as a college student, then going off to graduate school, as a young SID learning the ropes, and now becoming the dean of SIDs in the MIAA,” said Meyer. “He’s handled (the lack of a press box) with a lot of grace. To get a press box is something that was way, way overdue.”
Timmer added: “Jeff has to be in the conversation as the best Division III sports information director. And a Division III SID is usually overworked, underappreciated and multitasked. Jeff has had to be an expert in all different things in different sports, and Jeff leads with a maroon and gold heart. He is in it for our athletes and our coaches, and so in that respect, he’s done his job with very little complaining, with great energy and great passion.
“Just talking about the falls and springs, Jeff works long hours, and to get him into a warm environment where he can do his job to the best of his abilities is long overdue, and hopefully Jeff appreciates it and it keeps him here a long time.”