Calvin senior Broekhuizen goes pro
Story by Mitch Blankespoor
Ever since he was a child, Joe Broekhuizen has dreamed of being a professional soccer player. After four years at South Christian High School and four years at Calvin College, Broekhuizen has a chance to have his dream come true.
Broekhuizen became aware of the possibility before his senior year began wearing the Maroon and Gold. “Coach Souders came up to me in the summer and just told me if I had a good senior year, there is no reason why I couldn’t play at the next level,” Broekhuizen said.
Ryan Souders, who recently completed his first year as the head coach of Calvin men’s soccer program, played professionally himself with the Charlotte Eagles, a member of the United Soccer Pro League (USL). Souders used his connections in the USL to earn Broekhuizen a spot at an invite only tryout in Charlotte, North Carolina in December. Despite not being offered a contract, Broekhuizen left the tryout with a positive attitude.
“The tryout in Charlotte gave me confidence that I could play professionally,” said Broekhuizen who was a first team All-MIAA selection this fall after recording 13 goals, six assists and 32 points.
Souders was able to set up Broekhuizen with another tryout several months later. A 6-7 striker, Broekhuizen traveled to Dayton, Ohio, on March 2 for a tryout with the Dayton Dutch Lions, who like the Charlotte Eagles, are in the USL. “Going into the tryout Coach Souders told me to just be me,” Broekhuizen said. “Many of the athletes trying out tried to impress the coaches and were just over the top. I just played my game.” Playing his game did the trick. Two days after the tryout, Broekhuizen received a call from Dutch Lion head coach Patrick Bal.
“I remember seeing a call from a Dayton area code, but I could not answer because I was in a meeting,” Broekhuizen recalls. “I called back while driving back home. After hearing the contract offer, I was on cloud nine.”
Broekhuizen’s first call was to Souders. The two met that evening for dinner along with Joe’s father, Brian Broekhuizen. The three talked about what would have to be done for Joe to take the contract. Broekhuizen’s first priority was to graduate from Calvin. If Broekhuizen took the contract, he would have to leave for Dayton in late March.
The next day, Broekhuizen meant Jim Timmer Jr., the director of men’s athletics at Calvin, as well as Dr. Brian Bolt, the Calvin’s kinesiology department chair. Both agreed this was a great opportunity for Joe, but also said Broekhuizen needed to take initiative to talk to his professors. “All of my professors were extremely helpful and understanding,” Broekhuizen said. “They were very gracious in working out a plan for me to finish my degree.”
Once Broekhuizen became aware he would be allowed to finish his sports management degree through distant correspondence, he sat down with his family to talk and pray about his contract offer. “The whole process seemed like a blur,” Broekhuizen said. “After talking and praying with my family, I was ready to call back and accept the contract.”
Three days after getting the contract offer, Broekhuizen called back Patrick Bal to accept the contract to become a member of the Dayton Dutch Lions. Among the first to congratulate Broekhuizen was Souders. “We had to open up the door for Joe, but he had to walk through it,” Souders said. “This is a huge win for Joe, but an even bigger win for the Calvin men’s soccer program. We preach excellence in all things. It’s exciting to see guys’ careers don’t have to end after four years at Calvin. We are also excited to see Joe grow spiritually, as he shows the USL what the Knights have to offer.”
Broekhuizen’s time on Calvin’s campus as a student draws to a close, but he will take everything he’s learned during his time at Calvin with him.
“This is a great opportunity for me, but a lot of stars had to align for me to get this opportunity,” Broekhuizen said. “Without the help from Coach Souders, my professors, my teammates and most importantly the Lord, this would never have been a possibility. I’m looking forward to completing my degree, and using all the skills I’ve learned at Calvin while I embark on a professional soccer career.”
Broekhuizen’s first scrimmage as a member of the Dayton Dutch Lions is scheduled for Tues., April 2, against Ohio State.