HOLLAND, Mich. — For the first time since 2018 both the mens and women’s basketball teams from Hope will play in the NCAA DIII basketball tournament. A special moment particularly for the women’s team who had the tournament taken away from them not once, but twice.
“It just means the world. I mean to have it stripped from you two years in a row, it’s really heart-wrenching,” said senior Sydney Mullen.
“The fact that it’s back this year is really exciting,” said Olivia Voskuil.
“We thought it was going to happen, we were really certain that it was going to happen and then it was still canceled which was incredibly disappointing and then you always kinda wait for the other shoe to drop but things trended really well this year with covid and we couldn’t be more excited that there’s going to be a tournament,” said Head Women’s basketball coach Brian Morehouse.
A dream three years in the making. And the reason three players came back this season.
“We kinda talked to each other, we kinda went back and forth and when one of us was like, ‘alright let’s do it’ and then the other two got right on board and we were like ‘let’s finish what we started and and go a head and try for a national championship,” said Muller.
So that’s what they did. Kenedy Schoonveld, Sydney Muller and Olivia Voskuil came back, hungry to hang another banner in the rafters.
“We have players on our team that have played in two national tournaments. And I think that’s really, really big for us. That experience that we’ve been in the national tournament and they understand the pressures, the understand the spotlight is on you and I think they’re ready for the moment,” said Coach Morehouse.
Hope comes into the tournament having won 71 of their last 72. A perfect 61-0 until Trine beat the Flying Dutch in January. They’ll host the first round this weekend at the DeVos Fieldhouse against LaRoche.
“We love playing at home. We lead the nation in attendance for, I don’t know, the last 15 years. We have great crowds, we’re comfortable here,” said Coach Morehouse.
“It’s always fun to play in front of a big crowd. To have your family and friends there, and the community members are really important to us too,” said Voskuil.
Now just days away from something they weren’t sure would happen, the team is eager to to see how much longer they can extended their season.
“We were really focused on the regular season, winning the MIAA championship. We did that. Winning the MIAA tournament, we did that. Now the third thing on our list is the national tournament. One weekend at a time, just trying to advance every weekend.
In Holland, Remi Monaghan, Fox 17 News.