by Alan Babbitt
Hope College softball player Hayley Reitsma has been chosen as Hope College's 25th recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
The 2018 Hope College graduate receives a one-time, non-renewable scholarship of $10,000. She plans to use it to help pay for tuition at Grand Valley State University's graduate school for physical therapy that she is starting this fall. It is a three-year program.
After she completes her studies, Reitsma would like to start working at an outpatient clinic because she loves working with people of all ages.
"It's an honor to be selected for this scholarship and included on the same list as a fellow MIAA softball player, Makenzie Duncan from Saint Mary's, as well as Kelly Barnhill, pitcher from the University of Florida! It speaks to the Hope College culture of athletic and academic excellence," Reitsma said. "I always felt very supported in my on and off the field endeavors. I am looking forward to the next challenge in grad school."
Tim Schoonveld, Director of Athletics, and Mary VandeHoef, head softball coach, said Reitsma is an outstanding representative of Hope College and a worthy recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
"Hayley has earned this. She is a clear example of a Hope student-athlete who has lived out our mission of academic success, competitive excellence and transformational experiences," Schoonveld said. "We are so proud of her receiving this award and are confident it will be a springboard toward changing the lives of those around her. We could not be prouder of Hayley."
Added VandeHoef, "Hayley was an incredibly committed student during her time at Hope. I know she will bring the same diligence and work ethic she demonstrated in the classroom and on the field to her graduate work at Grand Valley."
Reitsma holds team career records with 169 games played, 169 games started and 526 at-bats. She batted .317 for her career with 25 home runs and 123 runs batted in.
As a senior, Reitsma was selected as one of 11 Google Cloud Softball First-Team Academic All-Americans, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). She batted a career-high .413 during the 2018 season and hit a school-record 13 home runs. She also set an MIAA record with 11 home runs during league games.
Reitsma helped the Flying Dutch win a team-record 34 games during the 2018 season along with claiming MIAA Tournament and NCAA Holland, Michigan regional titles. She was named co-recipient of the John Schouten Award as the top female student-athlete at Hope.
Reitsma said being a student-athlete at Hope College helped her decide she wanted to pursue physical therapy as a career.
"It was fun to go back through my college career and be able to reflect on how that brought me to the profession of physical therapy. I was able to connect with my letter writers and chat with them about my life, my career and how I felt they helped mentor me," Reitsma said. "There were times where it was challenging to not be 100 percent physically. That's kind of mentally draining. But in those times I was able to rely on our athletic training staff and some physical therapists I knew in Grand Rapids to help get my head in the right spot as well as rehabbing my body."
Reitsma recalls the inspirational and personal care she received while rehabbing a shoulder injury while playing for the Flying Dutch.
"There was a really good professional relationship, but also enough of a friendship where I felt very comfortable with our athletic training staff," Reitsma said. "I want to be that type of healthcare provider, where they know I have all the credentials, but I'm also able to walk alongside people and help them."