Cedric Dempsey was a three-sport standout student-athlete at Albion in the early 1950s, earning 11 varsity letters, achieving All-MIAA honors in basketball and baseball and earning conference Most Valuable Player honors in basketball his senior year. He went on to become one of the nation's top athletic directors at the University of Arizona before becoming president of the NCAA in 1994, a position he held until 2003. Dempsey is one of the most prominent figures in the association's history, having presided over the NCAA's move to its current headquarters in Indianapolis and negotiating a multi-billion dollar television deal with CBS Sports. Last October, the NCAA named its office building in Indianapolis after Dempsey in recognition of his contribution to intercollegiate athletics.
Many Saint Mary’s student-athletes do not hail from the namesake state of the MIAA. Junior soccer player Kaitlin Teichman, however, continues to forge a connection with the college and with the conference named after her home state of Michigan while growing into the leader she has become.
A Dean’s List student and MIAA Academic Honor Roll recipient from Grand Rapids, Kaitlin is a nursing major who is a member of the Saint Mary’s Student Nurses Association. She spent last year’s spring break on a service trip to Honduras, and she is very involved with both the Saint Mary’s and MIAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAACs).
As the MIAA celebrates its 125th anniversary, it also celebrates its role as a pioneer in women's collegiate athletics. Albion's Melissa Washburn, a three-sport standout for the Britons who graduated from the college in 1981, says the conference had many who believed women should have the same athletic opportunities as men. Washburn's mother, Ruth, a 1937 Albion graduate, also competed in three sports as a student. The Washburns are the only mother-daughter duo that are enshrined in the college's Athletic Hall of Fame.
More than 20 years later, the memories of winning a national championship remain bright for the members of the 1991-92 Calvin men’s basketball team. The 20-year national championship anniversary took place last March and marked the day that the Knights captured the first national team championship in Calvin athletics history with a 62-49 victory over the University of Rochester, N.Y. in Springfield, Ohio. The victory in the NCAA Division III Finals at Wittenberg University culminated an historic run that saw the Knights post an overall record of 31-1 including an unblemished 12-0 MIAA mark. The win also opened the door for eight more national team championships at Calvin with the men’s basketball team adding another national title in 2000, the men’s cross country team winning four titles (2000, 2003, 2004 & 2006), the women’s cross country team winning two (1998 & 1999) and the women’s volleyball team winning just recently in 2010.
The first national women's team championship won by an MIAA member school was achieved in 1990 by a Hope College basketball team that didn't have to travel more than a mile from campus during their entire tournament run. One by one, teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, and finally New York, ventured to the land of the Dutch where they succumbed to a spirited Hope team. The Flying Dutch capped their run by overcoming a 20-point deficit in the game's final 12 minutes to upset top-ranked St. John Fisher, N.Y., 65-63, in the championship game on two free throws by Dina Disney with less than a second remaining.
The sticks, the skirts, the socks, the pads, the wire-mesh cages and the balls have long been packed away but the memories remain. From 1968 until 1990, the women’s field hockey program evolved into a thriving sport on the Calvin campus and in the MIAA. At the forefront of Calvin’s field hockey rise was Doris Zuidema, who served as head coach from 1977 until 1989. During Zuidema's tenure as Calvin’s coach, the Knights captured six MIAA titles and became the league’s first team to advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament, doing so in 1988. In 1981, her squad went 12-0 in the MIAA, becoming the first team in league history to go through a double round-robin schedule undefeated.
Joe Piersante was an All-MIAA linebacker for Adrian during some of its finest football seasons in school history. He was a key part of the Bulldogs' defense during the 1988-89 seasons, which mark the last back-to-back MIAA championships for Adrian. He went on to serve his country as a federal drug enforcement agent and later served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, before he was critically wounded last year.
The 1961 Albion football team posted the school's first undefeated football season since 1928. The Britons posted an 8-0 record against a schedule that included future Mid-American Conference school Eastern Michigan, outscoring its opponents 186-55, and were the only undefeated team in the state.
It was the first undefeated team for Coach Morley Fraser and it was the second of his five MIAA titles.
In the annals of Hope College football, no game shines brighter than the one played on October 25, 1958 at Hillsdale. In succeeding eras, rules, techniques and equipment have changed, making comparisons difficult. However, for excitement, tension and sheer drama, the encounter stands alone. The game, replayed and embellished for years, is now fraught with innocent fabrications. Ironically, as one examines the action as it occurred, there is little need to embellish.
In the early 1990s, Kalamazoo emerged as a power in MIAA volleyball. It was the 1991 season that put the Hornets on the map as a national powerhouse, as they posted a perfect 12-0 record in conference play and finished 36-4 overall. Kalamazoo would go on to five MIAA titles in a six-year span.
Former Olivet College coach Gary Morrison not only left a legacy at Olivet but also in the MIAA when he retired in 2010. His career in the MIAA spanned more than a half-century. It all started in 1953 when he enrolled at Kalamazoo College. At Kalamazoo, he was a member of the baseball, basketball and track teams. Morrison played two years of baseball. He was the team's leading hitter in 1955, earning All-MIAA honors. Morrison would have played a third season of baseball but he signed a professional contract with the Detroit Tigers. He ran the 100 and 220 yard events in track as a sophomore and junior.
Julie Schroeder-Biek has run the collegiate athletics gamut. An early beneficiary of Title IX, she competed in volleyball at Southwestern Michigan University, the University of Wisconsin, and Saint Mary's College. She went on to coach the Belles for 15 seasons, leading Saint Mary's to nearly 200 wins while holding the distinction of being the only volleyball coach in the history of the program to have multiple 20+ win seasons. More recently, she has been serving as the Director of Athletics at Saint Mary's since the fall of 2008.
The MIAA this year will mark its 125th anniversary of athletic competition. During this season, we will remember the outstanding student-athletes, coaches and teams that have made the MIAA one of the nation's premiere athletic conferences.