HOLLAND, Mich. — Peter Stuursma is 32-9 overall in four seasons as the head football coach at his alma mater, Hope College.
The Dutch won the MIAA Championship in 2019, the last time the team took the field nearly two years ago.
"It's been a learning experience," Stuursma said when asked about the past year or so of the pandemic, "it's going to be 651 days from the time that we played a football game until our first game when we open here, but I can honestly tell you I'm as excited as I have ever been to see our players and our fans back in Ray and Sue Smith Stadium."
While many would think it's been a challenge for the coaching staff to keep players bought in and focused, Stuursma says it's actually been the opposite.
"Our players have a great camaraderie and a great team culture we have great leadership within our program," he added, "but certainly, we've gone through our challenges like everybody else. However, I have been amazed at the level of focus that our guys have had."
Coaches are focusing on their level of experience returning in the 2021 season all across college football and Hope College is no different, returning 12 of the program's 16 fifth-year seniors.
"For our [Division 3] level, that's amazing and that says a lot about the young men that we have in the program and the institution here. We have a very good group coming back, there's no question about it. We have a lot of guys that have experience and we also had some young guys that actually had an advantage when they came in back in the fall, they didn't have to learn everything in three weeks to try to get on the field in game one and special teams or or even in a starting role."
Stuursma is focused on the 2021 season and building on their program goals.
"It's about the attacking the opportunities that we have in front of us," he told FOX 17, "The 2019 season was great progress in our program, but guess what, Wartburg really beat us badly and our home turf in the first round of 32 to play for a national championship, so the very next Monday all we did was evaluate everything that we did not only that week that game, but throughout the season and how we build towards the next step. We need to take the next step in this program."
The Dutch will open the season at home on September 3rd against Anderson (Ind).