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Dear Athletic Friends,

The new and improved Talon Newsletter is finally up and running again in full color and I'm excited for the opportunity to provide you with information each month about all of the good things that are going on within the Athletics Department at Cornerstone University.

It is my hope that as a result of this newsletter you will be able to stay connected with our coaches and student athletes during the year and know how to pray for our sports programs as we strive to honor God through competition.

There's some exciting news coming in the months ahead that you won't want to miss so make sure to take a look each month as you receive the updates in the Talon.

Thank you for your continued support of Cornerstone Athletics and we look forward to serving you with this publication.

CU at the game!

Dave Grube

Director of Athletics

Cornerstone University

Golden Eagles Win No. 1 Spot in WHAC

Who's number one was answered  Saturday, Feb. 20 when the Golden Eagles defeated Davenport 77-70 in the final game of the regular season.

Both teams entered the game with 11-2 WHAC with a championship on the line. Coming off a disappointing overtime loss on Wednesday to Siena Heights didn't discourage the Golden Eagles. In fact it made them fight even more.

The first half was a seesaw battle that had 4 ties. CU held a slim 3 point lead with 4:34 remaining on a Caleb Simons field goal. Davenport closed the half taking a 39-35 point lead.
Both teams shot well from the floor with the Golden Eagles connecting on 14-30 FG and 3-9 from the arc for 47 percent but the Panters shot 53 percent (16-30 and 3-10 3-point).

Caleb Simons led the team with 11 first half points (4-8 FG) while Ronald Bates chipped in with 8 first half points.

Cornerstone took the lead for good on a Bates 3-pointer at the 17:49 mark (43-41). The Golden Eagles pushed the lead to 9 points before the Panthers went on a 5-0 run to cut the lead to 4 with 4:39 remaining.

Kelvin DeVries hit one of two free-throws to put CU ahead by 5 and then Bates followed that up with another 3-pointer at the 3:41 mark. Cornerstone then sealed it with free-throws and improved to 24-6 overall and 12-2 in the WHAC while Daveport falls to 22-8 overall and 11-3 in the WHAC.

Bates led the team with 25 points on 8-13 shooting (4-5 3point). Bryan Pasciak and Caleb Simons also finished in double figures with 16 points each. Simons also led the team with 8 rebounds David Fairfax for Davenport finished with a team high 23 points (9-16 FG, 3-8 3-point) and James Nelson added 14.

Cornerstone earned home court advantage throughout the WHAC tournament and will host the No. 8 seed (to be determined) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24.

For more information about Cornerstone athletics, visit www.cornerstone.edu/athletics.

Lady Golden Eagles Season Highlighted by Win Over Top-Ranked Team
The Golden Eagles women's basketball team finished the regular season 15-14 and 8-6 in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC).  On Jan. 27 Cornerstone posted one of the biggest wins in school history knocking off the No. 1 rated Panthers of Davenport University 65-54. Later in the week, the Golden Eagles went on to defeat No. 16 Aquinas College 74-59. 
Sophomore Robyn Veltkamp (Hudsonville, Mich.) became the first player in program history to be recognized as NAIA National Player of the Week.  
Junior Brooke Carter leads the WHAC with 16 double doubles on the season. She averages 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.  Veltkamp leads the WHAC in assists and ranks third in the NAIA with 5.9 assists per game.  Melissa Veltkamp leads the team in scoring and is first in WHAC play in 3-point field goal percentage shooting 46 percent.
The Golden Eagles finished in a three way tie for third place in the WHAC regular season.  The tie-breaker gave Madonna the No. 3 seed, Concordia the No. 4 and Cornerstone was relegated to the No. 5 seed. 
The Golden Eagles will travel to Concordia on Thursday, Feb. 25 for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.  Game action can be listened to live by visiting,  www.cornerstone.edu/athletics/webcasts/.


Men's Track & Field Features Record-Setting Performance

The Cornerstone University Men's Track & Field team took third at the 2010 Wolverine-Hoosier Conference Championships. In addition to winning five events, a freshman and a senior earned top performance awards.

Joel Leong picked up where he left off at the 2009 Indoor WHAC championship when he broke the meet record in the 35 pound weight throw three times leaving it at 59' 10.25". On his first attempt he sent the implement 61' 11.75". On his second attempt everything set up perfectly.

 "It felt good so I kept pushing harder through each turn," said Leong, a 2009 NAIA All-American in the event. "The finish was good and I knew it was going to be a big throw."

Indeed it was, bouncing over the 18-inch wood barriers at the far end of the throwing sector. The tape measure revealed how big: 63' 5.5." It was a personal best for Leong, school record and conference meet record. Leong, who has the longest throw by anyone in the NAIA this season, added more than nine inches to his national leading mark. Still tired from the effort, Leong fouled his final attempt in the preliminary round then had two more throws beyond his previous personal record in the finals, 62' 9.75" and 63' .5."

On the track, Alex Green won the 5,000 meters easily in 15:17.19. Senior Stephan Larson ran a patient and tactical race moving up for third in 15:29.74.

In the mile, Zach Ripley and the rest of the field let Joey Snellink of Davenport University take the early lead. Ripley's trademark 29 second last lap was almost enough to catch the fading leader. Snellink barely held on to win in 4:18.53 ahead of Zach's 4:19.68.

The 400 meters featured another great duel between Siena's Dough Dawson and Cornerstone's Jacob Erickson. The Cornerstone senior put in a strong move after 200 meters, with Dawson closing in the final stretch to grab the win 49.06 to 49.21. Jeff Burd ran a personal record of 50.85 in fourth.

Next up, freshman Zach Yeo lit up the field in the 600 meters winning by nearly one second in 1:22.97. He returned in the 200 meters with a freshman record and NAIA provisional time 22:32 to take second.

Women's Track & Field Captures Conference Crown

The Cornerstone Women's Track & Field team won the 2010 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Indoor championship in convincing style. After winning in 2008, the Golden Eagles rebounded from a second place finish last season to reclaim the title from Aquinas University despite only three individual event winners.

Six seniors provided key points throughout the meet. Nicki Erler got things started with a solid second place in the 5,000 meters. Her time of 19:00.85 was a personal best by seven seconds and just ahead of classmate Janelle Lindman in third (19:10.60).


Next, Andi Ripley and  freshman sensation, Carly Plank, met for a showdown in the mile. In their only head to head race this season Ripley prevailed in a 1,000 meter race. The CU All-American  Two laps later Ripley flew past putting in a 34 second lap. She maintained that pace over the final 200 meter circuit letting up slightly at the end. Clocking 69 seconds for her final 400 meter produced a school record 5:00.95 for the win, taking 4 seconds off the mark she set one week ago. Ripley was less patient in the 1,000 meters. After an opening lap of 38 seconds, she went to the front, clicking off four laps at 36 seconds, extending her lead to the finish for her second win in 3:05.33.


Plank was favored to win the 800 meters easily but after leading for three laps, senior Janey Sluka mounted a furious charge with freshman Julia Contreras in tow. Off the last turn Sluka continued to gain ground nearly reaching Plank's shoulder, pushing her all the way to the finish. Plank prevailed 2:24. 82 to Sluka's 2:24.94. Contreras was third in 2:25.88 with Amy Boyer fifth in 2:28.17.


Seniors Kayla Wilson and Kay-De Vaughn carried the largest load combining for 11 events. Vaughn took second in the high jump and Wilson third, both clearing 5' 2.5". Boyer tied for fifth, at 4' 9.25". In the long jump Vaughn led a 2-5 Cornerstone finish ahead of Wilson, Boyer and Lauren Pierce. 


In addition, head Coach Rod Wortley was named WHAC coach of the year.

For more information about Cornerstone athletics, visit


Alums Inducted into the CU Hall of Fame

Three Cornerstone alumni were inducted into the Hall of Fame during halftime of Basketball Homecoming Feb. 13 in the Hansen Athletic Center.

Sarah (Haney) Zichterman (CU'00), Steve Oswald (CU'77) and Kevin Krass (CU'76) were recognized with a plaque and the addition of their names in the Cornerstone University Hall of Fame.

Krass received a posthumous award that his wife and son received on his behalf. Krass, a pastor, died in 1998 after a battle with cancer.

Each year two to three outstanding athletes are chosen to be honored during the alumni event by a committee.

Randy Bronkema, one of Krass' teammates, was inspired by Krass.

 "He was an amazing motivator and friend," said Bronkema. "During the year and a half he battled cancer about 100 people accepted Christ. He ministered to doctors and nurses who were treating him."

Krass attended Cornerstone from 1972-1976 and served as basketball team captain during the 1974-75 school year. He ranked No. 4 with 1060 career rebounds.

Zichterman, a 2001 graduate of Cornerstone, led the Golden Eagles to three Co-WHAC volleyball championships in 1997, 1999 and 2000. Her junior year the team finished with an impressive 40-4 record and her senior year the team finished 35-7. She was named NAIA Honorable Mention All-American in 1999 and 2000 as well as a 3-time first team All-WHAC selection.

Her career records include: second in assists with 4949, third in digs with 2090 and sixth in career aces with 165.

She also played all four years on the women's basketball team. Her senior year she hit 42 percent of her 3-point shots.

"She was an integral part to helping the team win a first ever WHAC championship her junior year and then her senior year she was part of a team that made their first ever NAIA national tournament appearance where they finished in the sweet 16," said Carla Fles, who introduced her during the ceremony. "Some specific qualities that stand-out about Sarah are exceptional athleticism, she is a leader, she is driven and most importantly she made sure she kept her priorities straight keeping God at the center of everything she did." 

Steve Oswald attended Cornerstone from 1974-77 and served as track team captain from 1974-77 and was named team M.V.P. 1974-77.

During his college career Oswald also achieved: First Team All-District - 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977; NCCAA All-American - 1975, 1976 and 1977; NCCAA National Champion in 1977 and the first Cornerstone national champion.

For more information about upcoming alumni events, visit www.cornerstone.edu/alumni.

CU Alum Brad Gray: Building a Life That Matters 

Life was pretty simple for Brad Gray in 2002.

He had a pretty wife, a new house, a college degree and a good job that paid a significant salary. Everything had come together just as he had planned.

Or so he thought.

"Life was really good," said Gray. "I knew where I wanted to go, and I had a pretty good start in that direction. It was everything I had dreamed about, everything, I thought, that I could ever want."

And then God tapped him on the shoulder.

"There was something stirring inside me," he said. "It wasn't a bad feeling, just a feeling that I had missed something, that no matter how good my life was, there was something better out there for me."

Let's go back to the beginning.

Gray was a star athlete at Lenawee Christian High School in Adrian and he welcomed an offer of a scholarship from Cornerstone basketball coach Kim Elders. Gray showed up on campus in 1999 just in time to be part of the Golden Eagles' NAIA National Championship team.

He had an outstanding career at the school and still ranks as one of the Golden Eagles' all-time three-point shot leader.

"I think I lived to play basketball back then," he said. "I worked hard in school (Business Management major), but basketball was where my heart was. I would not trade those four years for anything."

He graduated in 2002, and immediately went to work for his dad, Gary, a noted physical therapist who worked extensively with some of the best professional athletes in the world.

 "I didn't want to be in physical therapy, but I wanted to be in a sports business," said Gray. "So we started a company to teach kids how to properly train their bodies. My dad had 30 years in the world of physical therapy, training and conditioning, so we took what he knew and focused on kids.

"In short, we believed every child was an athlete, and that those who didn't make it were turned off by people telling them they couldn't succeed. We got involved in school PE programs, in boys and girls clubs, we've even worked with Special Forces troops, teaching them to maximize their training to help them succeed in the things that challenged them."

The business boomed, and Gray's standard of living rose right along with the interest in the program.

A year after graduation he got married. His wife Shallon was a Bethel grad, which was interesting, because Bethel was the team the Golden Eagles beat in that 1999 National Championship game.

"I went over to the dark side a little," he laughed.

Everything was good for Gray. Except for that nagging voice working inside him.

"There was this stirring, and I couldn't explain it," said Gray. "Despite all I was doing, and how much I loved working with my dad, I kept getting this feeling that there was something else I was supposed to be doing.

"Like there was a passion deep inside me that I had not tapped."

Gray didn't know what it was. Shallon convinced him he had to find out.

Whatever it was, whatever it took, she was willing to be a part of it.

About that time Gray was studying a Biblical teaching series by Ray Vander Laan, and that's when the light went on.

"I had always grown up in a Christian home, went to Christian schools, enjoyed going to church," he said.  "I never got in trouble, I just played basketball and went to school.

"I loved God, but at no time did I think of the ministry."

During his time at Cornerstone, Gray attended Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, and the teaching there by Rob Bell touched him.

"It was a wonderful experience," he said. "It made the Bible compelling and I just got hooked."

Gray decided that his goal in life was a deeper understanding of the Bible.

"I wanted to understand the historical, cultural, geographical and Jewish contexts," he said. "It was like I had been watching a movie in black and white and suddenly it was in full color. I wanted to find out more."

After graduation, Gray was attending Ogden Community Church in Adrian when  he asked the senior pastor there if he could help with the teaching. He started on Wednesday night services, then got a chance to teach at all three services on Sunday.

It was eye-opening.

"That's when I knew that this was what I was supposed to do," he said. "So the next step was to figure out how I could do it as a career."

Although he didn't want to go back to school, he wound up at Western Theological Seminary in Holland.

"Seminary gives you a degree to get through the doors," he said.

So in 2005 Brad and Shallon quit their jobs, sold their house and moved to Holland, so he could attend seminary.

"I inquired so late that they had to call me to tell me I was accepted," said Gray. "They didn't have time to send me a letter and get me there for the first day of classes."

A lot of things were swirling around Gray's life at that time. He had met Ray Vander Laan in Holland and was offered an opportunity to attend a biblical study trip. But seminary came first, so he had to regretfully turn down that opportunity.

Nine months later both he and Shallon went on two trips with Vander Laan, both to Israel and Turkey. A year after that he went to Egypt, Sinai and Jordan.

During his first two years in seminary, Gray interned at Mars Hill, including a semester under Rob Bell, which was a moving experience.

 "It was a wonderful time of my life," he said. "Both Rob Bell and Ray Vander Laan continually nurtured a passion within me to understand the cultural context of the Bible.

"It got to the point that Shallon and I realized that in order to better understand the cultural, historical and geographical contexts of the Bible, we needed to study in the land from which much of the Bible emerged.

"After completing my seminary degree," he went on, "God blessed us tremendously by working it out that we could spend just under a year living and studying in Jerusalem."

Since returning from Israel in the summer of 2009, Gray has been wrapped up in a Biblical ministry. He is an adjunct teaching pastor at Solomon's Porch in Jenison, assists in a discipleship ministry called "Under the Fig Tree (Holland) and regularly preaches and teaches classes for various area churches.

He has recently taught at Ada Bible Church and Mars Hill and is working on a class to be given at a church in Detroit.

Additionally, he is now leading tours to the Holy Land (www.walkingthetext.com) and will begin leading trips to Turkey in 2011.

He and Shallon have two children, Denyon,  2, and Aryah, 3 months old.

"I am having the time of my life," he said. "I love the teaching, and I look forward to the trips we take. I am putting together the first trip to Israel where I will be the sole leader."

Gray laughs when he thinks of how his life has turned around.

"People who haven't seen me for a couple of years would be stunned," he said. "When they remember the career path and the early business success I had, the last five years would be a mystery to them.

"But it is pretty basic," he went on. "I am just doing what God called me to do, and I am loving every moment of it."