Dave Ribbens spent 23 years with Trinity’s athletics department, serving as the athletics director and the head coach of four different sports teams. As athletics director, he guided the program in growth from four to 12 sports. He served as the CCAC commissioner and as an NCCAA board member for eight years and president for two years. He was inducted into the Trinity Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007 and is also a member of the CCAC, IBCA, and NCCAA halls of fame.
Ribbens coached men's soccer for 21 years, posting a career mark of 177-209-12. As the coach of the women's basketball team, he built a record of 113-83 in the seventh season and took the team to the NCCAA national tournament four times. He also spent five years as softball coach and one season as the women's soccer coach.
In working with young people, Ribbens hopes the impression he leaves with them is that he values his relationship with Christ and his family and values his players as people. “Wins are great, but the relationships with team members are the best,” he said.
Reflecting on his time at Trinity, Ribbens has a fond memory of his team’s roadtrip candle ceremonies, during which a candle was passed among players as they shared their testimonies. While he played an instrumental role in the growth of the athletics program, he said that “being part of the Trinity family is the best memory” of his time with the College.
For the past six years, Ribbens has worked as the athletics director for the University of Chicago Lab Schools. A Holland, Michigan, native, he currently resides in Tinley Park, Illinois, with his wife Debbie, who teaches physical education at the lab schools. Daughter Elizabeth is a physical education major at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and son Matt has plans to attend the University of Rhode Island and play soccer.
Anita Visser was looking for a full-time job after her children were grown and found out about a position at Trinity through a friend at church who worked at the College. That friend, Lois Thomson, has been her co-worker since 1994.
“I’ve found my niche here at Trinity, and not many people can say that about their jobs,” she said.
For Anita, that niche has meant 15 years of dedicated service in the accounts receivable area of Trinity’s business office, performing myriad duties including processing tuition payments. “I take their money, and the students still like me,” she quipped.
According to Anita, one of the best aspects of working in the “loving and caring atmosphere” of Trinity is being part of a community where she knows people by name, including the students.
“I can remember every kid’s name,” she said. But knowing their names is only part of the relationship she develops with students. While strong bonds often form between students and their professors, this is not uncommon among students and staff members at Trinity. Anita said that she enjoys seeing students’ names in newspapers, hearing about their accomplishments, and being part of their Trinity experience.
Being selected as an honorary alumna moved her deeply. “It really hit home that this award came from alumni who years later still associate me with their college,” she said. “It is a privilege.”
Anita was born and raised in Roseland, a community on the far south side of Chicago. After graduating from Chicago Christian High School, she married Maynard; they have three children and eight grandchildren.
Steve and Kathy Westra
Waupun, Wisconsin, natives Steve and Kathy Westra were classmates and friends from first through 12th grade and married in 1971. Steve is the vice president of WDS Construction, started by his son Ben, a 1999 graduate of Trinity. Kathy received her nursing diploma and taught pre-natal classes for 15 years before staying home to raise their three children. She later continued her education and now works as a medical transcriptionist.
Two of their children graduated from Trinity: Ben ’99, whose wife Julie is a ’97 alumna; and Helen ’04, whose husband Bob Kooima also attended the College. Daughter Annie, married to Matt Syens, graduated from Calvin.
“I’ve been impressed by the quality of education at Trinity,” said Steve, “but it’s the feeling of community that has had the most impact on us.”
While at Trinity, Ben and Helen both played soccer all four years. Steve and Kathy have enjoyed seeing the women’s soccer program grow under the leadership of Coach Josh Lenarz ’98 and others from the early days of not having enough players to field a team to the 2008 team playing at the national championship.
But the Westras involvement has reached far beyond being the parents of Trinity students. Through the former family company Westra Construction, Steve was involved in project management during the building of West Hall, the Heritage Science Center, the Ozinga Chapel, and the Jennie Huizenga Memorial Library. He also served one term on the Board of Trustees.
Speaking of their honorary alumni award, Kathy said, “It is very humbling to be recognized by an institution we treasure so much.”
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