Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Following Grandpa’s Footsteps – Roger Luurtsema & Allison Luurtsema #TBT Story

“I chose Davenport because I wanted instruction that was practical and directly applicable to my career,” Roger Luurtsema explained.  Now, nearly 65 years later, his granddaughter Allison Luurtsema is following in his footsteps; eager to learn and grow at Davenport.

Roger was born to Peter and Lillian Luurtsema in their Grand Rapids home in 1932 and graduated from Ottawa Hills High School. He knew he wanted to go into sales because he had uncles he admired who were salesmen and because he had “the gift of gab” and a sense of humor.

He enrolled at Davenport after high school in 1950 and still recalls that many of his instructors left a lasting impression.  Like instructor Andy Anderson, who tricked a shy boy into overcoming his fear of public speaking in the Dale Carnegie class or the commercial law instructor who was a lawyer and also an artist and illustrated principles of law with cartoon style drawings.

“Our class was very close and had a lot of comradery. We were on the second floor of the Fulton and N. Division street building. The first floor had retail stores and a restaurant where we often socialized over coffee and donuts,” Luurtsema reflected.

He appreciated that his classes were always led by people who were successful in their professional fields.  Roger remembered Robert Sneden as a good teacher who was professional, sophisticated and businesslike and added that, “we were all in awe of Mr. Davenport.”

“I am happy with my choice of attending Davenport,” said Roger. “Throughout my forty-five year career in sales, the fundamental principals were the thing that carried me through and that show the quality of the training.”

Roger earned his diploma for completing his salesmanship course from the Davenport-McLachlan Institute in 1951. He married five years after graduating from college and moved to Ann Arbor, MI to start his long, successful career.

Roger worked at a few different companies before settling in at EcoLab where he spent more than 33 years as a salesperson with a territory spanning from Lansing to Detroit. He also found success in translating his education and experience into training other salespeople.

During this time period, Roger and his wife, Wilma, started a family. They have five children, fifteen grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren and more on the way.

One of his granddaughters, Allison Luurtsema, started at DU in the fall of 2016. Allison grew up playing soccer with her father, Phil, who also spent many hours on the soccer field as a kid. “She has won all the awards you can win, including the top female athlete of her high school,” said her proud grandfather.

When it came time to look for colleges, Allison knew she wanted to play soccer and pursue nursing. One of her coaches recommended Davenport. As her family researched options, Roger showed her a promotional piece with his photo on it from his days at Davenport.

Roger’s experience sparked Allison’s interested in Davenport. “I think it is a great connection to have with my grandpa. Similar to my connection with my dad and soccer, I am able to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps at Davenport, building a family legacy.”

Allison’s first year as a Davenport University nursing student at the W.A. Lettinga Campus is off to a great start. Soon, she will have stories of her own about teachers, student life and classwork to share with her family.

Do you have a Davenport legacy story? Davenport University legacy families are families who have a multi-generational connection to the University. The University identifies legacy students as those who have had a family member or members graduate from DU. Submit your legacy story to!


6 ways to get involved in your Alumni Association in 2017

Stay connect by getting involved in your active alumni network!

Social Media - Follow us on Facebook and Instagram! Connecting on our social media outlets is one of the fastest ways to get the most updated information on what is happening with DU alumni. Plus, who doesn’t like fun pictures of alumni and snowy campus photos!

Events - Attend an event! Our 2017 schedule of events will include alumni tailgates, professional development opportunities and special days on the golf course! We have something for everyone!  View our upcoming events on our website.

Volunteer – Volunteer your time and talents to speak to a class, join at a regional alumni club, or offer advice on an alumni panel. Are you a recent grad in West Michigan? Join our Young Alumni Council!

Athletics – Cheer on your Panthers alongside our mascot, Pounce, at an athletics event. Not located in Grand Rapids? Many of our teams play games all over the country! Visit the athletics website for the full schedule of events.

Sign up to receive Davenport University e-mail updates to connect with fellow alumni and stay informed about DU’s latest initiatives, events and professional development opportunities.

Make a Gift – Invest in future DU students by contributing to the general fund, scholarships or a specific department. Learn more about giving back to DU.

Contact Information

To get involved in alumni activities or to learn more about benefits and services, contact:

Jason Madden ‘08
Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Development

Erik Dane ‘07
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Events

Sara Mooney ‘09
Assistant Director of Alumni Communications and Development

DU Football Inaugural Season A Success

The Davenport University football team concluded their inaugural season on Saturday, November 5 with a 6-5 record, which is very impressive for a first year program. Coach Lou Esposito said, “I am proud of the team. They had a winning season as the first team in school history and I am looking forward to next year.” He shares a few notable accomplishments below…

  • Ranked second in the NAIA in kickoff return yard average (26.6)
  • Third in rushing defense (85.9)
  • Fifth in total defense (270.2)
  • Eighth in scoring defense (17.5)
  • 12th in opponent third down conversions
  • 17th in total sacks (25)

In addition to the team’s success on the field, a number of Panthers were recognized for their academic success.  Nate CouturierBrent Showers and Patrick McMahon have all been named CoSIDA Academic All-District in College Division District I for this season. The trio of Panthers have been key for the first year program at Davenport University.

Winter sports are ramping up! View the full sports schedule on the Panther Athletic website today!

Alumnus Wes Trimpe Honored With Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Congratulations to alumnus Wes Trimpe for being named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Epic Awards. Wes graduated from Davenport University in 2013 with a BBA in Finance. His successful baseball career started locally at East Kentwood High School and then continued at DU where he specialized in first base and pitching.

After playing at Davenport Wes moved on to pitch in the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC) for the Kalamazoo Cubs. At the completion of his playing career Wes chose to give back to our local baseball community by coaching. He started Sluggers Sports Academy in December of 2014 with the goal of heightening the level of baseball competition within the southeastern Grand Rapids area along with assisting young athletes in their development into respectable and contributing members of our community. Since then, the Academy has expanded to 15 youth baseball teams, 12 instructors, 35 coaches and serve over 300+ families. Sluggers is also a host location to Davenport’s Competitive and Sideline Cheer teams.

Help us congratulate Wes with this incredible honor!

Alumni Success Story: Matt Wiedenhoeft ’13

Nearly two years ago, Matt Wiedenhoeft ’13 was approached by his friend about starting a business unlike any other business in Grand Rapids – a Roller Hockey League. As a former hockey player and risk taker, he jumped on board! Now, co-owner of the National Roller Hockey League (NRHL), Matt is leading the way in this growing sport in America. Learn more about the NRHL and Matt’s journey below.

Matt Wiedenhoeft ‘13.jpg

Q & A with Matt Wiedenhoeft ‘13

Tell us about yourself, Matt.

I grew up playing inline hockey at my parents’ roller skating rink prior to playing ice hockey. I played hockey for Muskegon Community College after high school, where I met my wife, Gina, who was attending MSU. After winning a National Championship in 2003 with MCC, I played professional minor league hockey starting with attending training camp with the Muskegon Fury. I remember traveling for hockey and missing my family so much that it came to a point where I realized I wanted to switch from playing hockey to coaching. I tried to find a “real job” and couldn’t because I didn’t finish my college degree. That was my motivation! I returned to school to obtain my BBA while coaching my first minor league hockey team. I did homework while driving back and forth from away games on the bus. Everyone was worried that I would quit school for hockey, but they didn’t realize how important obtaining my degree had become to my future success.  I graduated from Davenport with my masters from the Strategic Management program in 2013.  Now, I am a co-owner of the National Roller Hockey League and president and founder of PALANO Consulting. I also teach business courses at Davenport as an adjunct.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am business owner, professor, business consultant, coach, dad and husband.

Tell us about the Roller Hockey League.

My partner, Robert Clouston and I created the National Roller Hockey League in November 2014. Robert had the idea and brought me in to help establish the league. As a serial entrepreneur, I loved the idea, so I jumped on. The NRHL is similar to ice hockey, but with inline hockey skates. We have four original franchises– the Detroit Bordercats, Detroit Stars, Shelby Surge, Motor City Revive. The NRHL made the transition to professional, during the 2014 off-season – making the decision to have ‘paid’ players in Season 2. It is the first time players receive checks since the end of RHI in 1999. The pay-structure is not making millionaires, but it is one step closer to expanding the league throughout the USA.

What is a serial entrepreneur?

A risk taker. Someone who always comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses.

What other businesses have you started?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so starting businesses is in my blood. I started a business consulting company, PALANO Consulting, in 2012 to help small business with sales, management, marketing, digital strategies, and much more.

What is your dream job?

Business Maker. President. CEO. Whatever I can do to lead and help people.

What do you do when you are not working?

I enjoy spending time with my kids Landon, Noelle and Paxton and my beautiful wife, Gina. And, of course, coaching hockey.

DU Accepted Into NCAA Division II Membership Process

We are proud to announce that Davenport’s application for National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) membership in Division II has been approved for the three-year membership process.

As you know, Davenport is committed to quality and achievement of high standards. Acceptance of our application for membership into NCAA Division II affirms the great progress we have made as an institution, and we look forward to the opportunities this affiliation will provide to our students and community. We believe NCAA membership will enhance the quality of college life at Davenport and help us attract the best and brightest students interested in a career-focused education.

For the 2016-2017 school year, we will continue as an active member of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) while we serve in what is called Provisional Year One with NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

Beginning with Provisional Year Two (2017-18), we will join the GLIAC in all sports playing a full conference schedule. After completing Provisional Year Three (2018-19) of the membership process, we will gain full NCAA membership and become eligible to compete for NCAA Division II championships beginning as early as 2019-20. The Division II Membership Committee annually determines if an institution should be moved forward into the next year of the membership process.

This marks a new journey and a new challenge for our athletic program. Congratulations to our Athletic Director, Paul Lowden, and his staff for all the hard work to get us here!

5 New Things Happening Around the W.A. Lettinga Campus this Summer!

With the growing enrollment of the W.A. Lettinga Campus, many  new things are popping up all over the campus this summer! Check out the list of new buildings, residence halls, clubs, and student organizations below!

#1 Donald W. Maine College of Business Building

The Donald W. Maine College of Business building is starting to look more like a business school. Come January of 2017, this three-story, 60,000-square-foot building will support business education, entrepreneurship and creativity. This space is intended to give students a flexible learning environment to help them better interact, study and create. The College of Business building will make the transition from class to class much easier, and it will free up space which will provide much more room for technological and educational growth.

#2: Panther Ridge Residence Hall

Lots of progress is being made over at the new apartment residence hall – Panther Ridge! Panther Ridge will be a new apartment style residence hall at the corner of 60th and Kraft for DU students to take advantage of in September of 2016. All the rooms have been reserved for this Fall. We are anticipating a fun, vibrant housing complex for students.

#3: Panther Woods Residence Hall

The fourth building in the new Panther Woods complex is also coming together quickly! This new Panther Woods building on 68th is just a mile away from campus, walking distance to the Farmers Athletic Complex. Set to open in September of 2016, this new housing option is perfect for upper level students.

#4: New Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex Turf Field  

The Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex, located on 68th St., is now complete with home stands, concessions, a ticket booth and athletic locker rooms and offices, ensuring the best possible experience for DU athletic teams and our guests.  This space houses Football, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Track & Field, and Men’s Rugby and many other practices, events and community activities.




#5: New Registered Student Organizations (RSO)

Next on our list of new things happening around the W.A. Lettinga Campus this summer are new Registered Student Organizations. The first RSO is “DUbate,” a student organization with the goal of ultimately participating in college level debates. The DU Black Student Union, along with two other academically honorary societies: Alpha Lambda Delta and Upsilon Pi Epsilon are also new to campus this summer.

Stay up to date with campus happenings - update your information to receive the monthly alumni newsletter!

Inaugural Football Schedule Announced

Davenport University head football coach Lou Esposito has announced the inaugural 2016 schedule with 11 dates including six home and five road games. The Panthers will begin the season at Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex on Saturday, August 27 against Lyon College at 11:00 a.m.

2016 Schedule

8/27 Lyon College (Home) 11 a.m.
9/3 at Kentucky Christian 1:30 p.m.
9/10 at Tiffin 1:30 p.m.
9/17 Kentucky Wesleyan (Home) 12 p.m.
9/24 Arizona Christian (Homecoming) 11 a.m.
10/1 at St. Xavier (IL) 1 p.m.
10/8 at College of Faith 12 p.m.
10/15 at St. Francis (IL) 2:30 p.m.
10/22 Quincy (Home) 12 p.m.
10/29 St. Joseph’s (IN) (Home) 7 p.m.
11/5 St. Francis (IN) (Home) 12 p.m.

See more at:

Alumni Success Story – The Brown Family Tradition

Caren Meerman ‘14 & ‘16 may hold the record of most Davenport commencement ceremonies attended. “We have it down now,” says Caren, “We have reserved seat labels and everything.” Caren’s family has made quite the name for themselves at Davenport University.

Caren’s mother, Carna Brown ‘08, is the Director of Financial Aid at DU; her eldest brother, Craig, attended DU along with his wife, Rachel; Doug, her second eldest brother, Doug, graduated from DU with a BBA in Marketing in 2011 and an MBA in Strategic Management in 2015; her third eldest brother, Jake ‘15, graduated from DU’s Midland campus with his Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.

Caren is the youngest of the family. She graduated with her Bachelors in Sports Management in 2014 and her Masters in Management in 2016. Throughout her time at Davenport, Caren played softball for three years and rugby for two years. While earning her Master’s in Management, Caren worked as a Building Manager for the W.A. Lettinga Campus Student Activities Center.

When asked “Why Davenport?” Caren proudly stated, “The growth and the potential of Davenport got me excited about being a part of it. I was able to grow with DU and that was an awesome experience. Davenport also has fantastic opportunities for students and employees.”

When Caren first came to DU, the residence halls had recently been built. “Being able to live in the brand new dorms and play sports in a brand new stadium positively impacted my time at DU.” says Caren. “Experiencing Davenport’s growth first hand has been a great opportunity and motivator for me.”

Caren’s favorite memories here at DU revolve around her experiences in athletics. “I made the most memories on sports trips with my softball and rugby teams. For rugby, we went to South Carolina and California for nationals, which were both awesome experiences,” says Caren. “I met some of my closest friends through sports at Davenport.

What’s everyone doing now?

Carna Brown ‘08, mother, is the Director of Financial Aid at Davenport University. She began as a Financial  Aid Counselor and worked hard to get to the Director position. Craig and Rachel Brown are married with 3 kids and 1 on the way. Doug recently landed a Sales Representative position at Homestead Timbers in Marne, MI. Jake met his now-girlfriend in May of 2015 at the Davenport University Commencement Ceremony. His girlfriend, Rebecca Veneklase ‘15, also received her BSN from DU. Jake and Becca are both working at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI while pursuing their Masters in Nursing.

Between her BBA and MM, Caren married her high school sweetheart, Brett Meerman, on July 18, 2015. She is now working as Area Manager for Hi-Tec Building Services in Jenison, MI.

“The Brown family is a group of jokesters,” says Caren. “But we are a hardworking group of jokesters. We all have jobs in our fields and are proud to be a part of the DU community.” The Browns love the West Michigan area and have stayed close to home. Carrying on the legacy at DU is something that Caren takes pride in because Davenport has been a part of their family for years.

We are proud to feature Caren Meerman ‘14 & ‘16 and her family as our alumni success story this week. We are thankful for the dedication that this family has to our University.