GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Basketball practices at Calvin and Hope colleges have looked a little different these days, with more cameras and microphones than the team is used to.
“It’s a little weird, they’re following us around everywhere, but it’s super fun, and I’m really excited to see how it turns out,” said Calvin women’s basketball player Gabby Timmer.
She is talking about a project nearly a year in the making. It all started when documentary filmmaker Kellen Dengler stumbled upon an article listing the top rivalries in college sports.
“It had all the heavy hitters in there, but (Calvin-Hope) was ranked surprisingly high for a D3 school, so we started looking into them,” said Dengler, the executive producer for the series.
West Michigan is the latest stop for the original docuseries called “The Rivalries,” which streams exclusively on LG Smart TVs.
The project’s eighth episode will showcase the rivalry between Hope and Calvin for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Most sports fans have heard about Michigan and Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke — but this series dives into the “the more obscure but no less fierce.” They have featured rivalry games across the country, everywhere from Anchorage to Tampa Bay.
“We like to call it big stories from little places,” said Dengler. “We’re focusing on underdog stories from within the NCAA, true grit underdog stories that don’t often get told.”
West Michiganders know all about the Hope-Calvin rivalry, which goes back more than 100 years. But for the Knights and the Dutch, having their story told on a bigger platform is a unique opportunity.
“If you’re not from West Michigan, sometimes you don’t get how big a deal this is,” said Calvin men’s basketball head coach Bill Sall. “I’ve said countless times — this is better than anything you’re going to be a part of — the crowd, the environment, the competitiveness, it all makes it just so special.”
The Hope women are no strangers to the spotlight, though. Last year, they held the NCAA’s longest active winning streak of 61 games. While winning the National Championship that same season, they aren’t overlooking the importance of having a women’s team included in the documentary.
“Women in media aren’t as represented as often as men are, so to have this representation, and to have this crew come in and highlight us is super exciting,” said Hope women’s basketball player Kate Majerus. “We’re super excited to see the product of it. It’s just another memory that we’re going to appreciate and hold onto for the rest of our lives.”
The documentary crew will wrap up production this week at the Hope-Calvin men’s game, with the episode set to air in March.