Daryl Bouwkamp ’90 is the 2019 recipient of the Calvin Knight of Distinction Award.
Each year C Club, the Calvin University alumni athletic organization, recognizes a former Knight who has served God, church, and community with the Christian character that was shaped in part by participation in the Calvin athletic program.
After graduating with a degree in business administration, Bouwkamp and his wife, LeAnn, moved back to his hometown of Pella, Iowa, where he began his career with the Vermeer Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial and agricultural equipment. Over the last 28 years, he has held a variety of leadership positions with an emphasis on international development.
Bouwkamp supports international business development for Vermeer and directs its government relations, issue awareness, and advocacy. Previously, he led Vermeer’s sales, marketing, and distribution development in Latin America and Asia Pacific. He also served as chairman of Vermeer China Ltd. while also starting Vermeer government relations efforts.
He began his Calvin baseball career in an unusual way. As a high school standout at Pella Christian, Bouwkamp was a shortstop and pitcher. Upon arriving at Calvin, he found that the shortstop position was manned by a strong veteran, and his pitching career was curtailed due to a back injury. One position that was open, however, was catcher—a position he had never played.
“Coach [Jeff] Pettinga asked if I would be willing to try catcher, and I found that I loved it,” said Bouwkamp.
Over the next four years, he was a starter as catcher. As a junior in 1989, he was named to the All-MIAA second team after batting .324 in league play.
Bouwkamp especially recalls the camaraderie on the team trips: “The bus rides, chewing sunflower seeds in the dugouts, and just shooting the breeze with my teammates are wonderful memories that still stand out to me today,” he said. “It was just great to be part of a team and finding ways to work together.”
As he grew into various roles in his professional career, Bouwkamp found lessons learned at Calvin as a student athlete translated to his day-to-day vocation. “As a baseball player I came in at one position but was called to fill another,” he said.
“I’ve found over my career that looking to fill the position that God is calling you to fill is the way to lead your life.”