The third annual C Club Awards Knight featured a storied Calvin basketball alumnus and another MIAA Commissioner’s Cup for the Knights.
Mark Veenstra ’77, a Kalamazoo orthopedic surgeon, was given the Knight of Distinction Award by C Club, the college’s alumni athletic organization. Veenstra was a four-year starter for the men’s basketball team from 1974–77. After his Calvin graduation, he played professional basketball in Germany and then obtained a medical degree from Wayne State School of Medicine. Veenstra has been an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine in Kalamazoo for 26 years.
In addition, he has been active in the work of the Luke Society, a medical missions organization. Veenstra has held a number of positions on the board of directors and led many medical mission trips to Gracias, Honduras. While in Gracias he has not only conducted successful operations, he has also taught Honduran orthopedic surgeons the art and techniques of arthroscopic surgery. Upon his recent retirement from his orthopedic group in Kalamazoo, Veenstra continues to make frequent trips to Gracias and played a leadership role in building a surgery center and a home for patients and visiting medical staff there.
The Knight of Distinction Award has been established by the Calvin C Club to recognize a former Calvin Knight who has served God, church and community with the Christian character that was partly shaped by participation in the athletic program at Calvin College.
“It was important to the C Club leaders that the strong tradition we began with the award last year was maintained,” said C Club president Carl Gronsman ’63. “In his scholarship, faith and international service, Mark Veenstra exemplifies what we think a Knight of Distinction should model for our current student athletes.”
In accepting the award, Veenstra gave an inspirational talk to the student athletes in the audience, noting that he could have attended a number of major universities with a full athletic scholarship, but chose Calvin to live a life of service. “God has given you a special ability in athletics,” he said. “But God wants you to develop your other talents besides athletics. The things you’ve learned in athletics God wants you to carry on in life. And he wants you to use all of your abilities to serve God and serve others.”
Veenstra’s accomplishments on the court as a Calvin Knight are noteworthy. He is the only four-time league Most Valuable Player in men’s basketball history—from 1974–77—and still holds the MIAA records for most league points scored (1,233) and career league scoring average (25.7) and for one season (29.2).
In addition to the Knight of Distinction Award, this celebration of Calvin athletics included a “Year in Review” video and the presentation of 13 student awards, culminating in the Tiemersma and Beré Awards for female and male athletes of the year.
Seniors Breanna Verkaik (women’s basketball) and Jordan Brink (men’s basketball) received those special awards. The women’s basketball team was named Team of the Year.