HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — When Peter Stuursma took the job as Hope College’s head football coach in January of 2016, he wasn’t sure if this day would ever come — and maybe he didn’t even care.
“The journey, often times you have to look back and learn from it and embrace the things you’ve gone through,” Stuursma said when asked to reflect on the last four seasons. “But you also have to look and say, ‘What are we doing today?'”
The most glaring answer to that is simple: still practicing for a game. Fresh off an unbeaten run through the MIAA conference, Hope’s football team now has its sights set on a program first: a playoff victory. Some of that is thanks to Stuursma’s ability to affect those around him.
“He’s one of those guys that gives, and gives, and gives,” senior quarterback Mason Opple said. “He’s always filling buckets. He’s going to kill you with love. We love him for it.”
“He cares about each and every player on his team,” Luke Beckhusen, a senior defensive back, said. “It’s just been awesome to be a part of that because everybody feels important, like they contribute to what we have done.”
It’s because each has and Stuursma believes that.
“It’s easy to forget,” he said. “Players play. Players make plays. Players can make coaches look awfully good.”
However, Stuursma and his staff have the players looking good too. This is easily one of the best seasons in school history and Stuursma senses a hunger and desire from his guys to achieve more.
“They want to be loved. They want to be pushed. They want to be motivated,” Stuursma said. “They want to succeed. They want to find different ways to succeed. They want to be great at what they do.”
Regardless of the outcome Saturday when Hope hosts Wartburg at noon in the opening round of the NCAA Division III playoffs, Stuursma hopes his seniors walk away remembering something he believes is far greater than any victory.
“Be a good dude. Say please and thank you. Open the door for someone. Say ‘Welcome to Hope,'” Stuursma added. “Say, ‘Thank you for being here.’ Say, ‘Come to our game on Saturday and cheer.’ Appreciate the things you have. Be grateful and show gratitude. Those things matter. I hope we never lose track of that.”
While it may not exactly win Hope another game, it sure will make moments like a conference championship or maybe even a playoff victory much sweeter.