The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) is partnering with Celebration Cinema to bring a new sport to West Michigan – and there’s a good chance you know very little about it.
Champions Play Here!
From 1981-1988, Calvin College could say this proudly because we hosted the NCAA Men’s Division III Basketball Championships for nearly a decade. But that tradition faded away and it wasn’t until we opened Van Noord Arena in 2011 that we began to dream about hosting a national championship again. And now that dream will become a reality in a little more than two weeks!! Calvin College is teaming up with the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) to host the Final Four for NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball. A monstrous 60’ X 6’ banner spans the west balcony of the beautiful Van Noord Arena to remind us that the national championship week is almost here. Four of the very best women’s basketball teams will be arriving before we know it to battle for a national championship.
I have to pinch myself to think that in just a few short weeks, the four surviving teams will enter Van Noord Arena in Calvin’s spectacular Spoelhof Fieldhouse with high hopes of achieving every college athletes’ dream – winning a national championship!! A dream that includes tears of joy and streams of confetti, a dream fulfilled because of countless hours in the weight room and on the basketball court, a dream of playing one’s best on the day when it matters most. One team will look up to the west balcony and nod their heads. They will be the “champions that played here.” Here at Calvin College in Van Noord Arena. Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Conferences calls and committee meetings are revving up. Our friends at the WMSC are putting in long hours on our behalf, and the excitement in our planning committee is palatable. Our fearless and creative leader, Jim Timmer Jr., is pulling all the loose ends together. Nearly every day, boxes arrive from the NCAA that have to be inventoried. Supplies and equipment necessary for hosting such an elite tournament keep rolling in. Calvin’s maroon and gold arena will soon be transformed into a festive NCAA home court. Huge blue and white banners will be hung, and each participating team will be celebrated. By the way, we did stump the NCAA. Our ginormous center-floor Calvin Knight logo is simply too big to cover! The NCAA committee admitted that they had never encountered a logo that large!!
Nevertheless, we are so excited to provide our visiting teams with a fair and competitive experience that will be unequaled. Our state-of-the-art court, lighting, sound system, video boards, etc., will make for an unforgettable experience for players, their families, and all the fans. And that’s where you come in. Buy your tickets now. You don’t want to miss the chance to see NCAA Women’s Division III basketball at its best. You won’t leave disappointed. Or work a volunteer shift for the event, and you’ll get free access that day.
Monday, March 2 was Selection Monday when the 64-team bracket was announced. The Calvin Women’s team had already punched its ticket to the dance last Saturday and is now part of the 64-team tournament. And guess who’s hosting the first two rounds of play?? Yep, we get to do a dry run as we host first- and second-round games on our campus this weekend.
Let’s get this party started. You can also follow the progress of the tournament on the NCAA website, and find ticket, hotel and volunteer information here.
Which team will get to brag that it was the 2015 NCAA Division III champion who played here? Who knows, it might be a team from West Michigan!
As we prepare for 2020, I’d like to take a moment to review 2019 – it was another great year for youth and amateur sports in West Michigan!
Art Van Sports Complex won bids to host the USA Softball Men’s Open East Fast Pitch and Class D Slow Pitch national tournaments in 2020 and 2021!