NWC announces annual athletic award winners

May 16, 2022 11:34am

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ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Northwestern College athletic department has announced the winners of the four annual Red Raider athletic awards for the 2021-22 academic year. The awards were voted on by the NWC coaching staff, athletic department staff, and the Raider Athletics Advancement Board (RAAB).


Dual sport athlete, Emily Strasser (Sr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) was voted the female recipient for the Vander Stoep Award. She has made tremendous impacts on both the NWC softball and volleyball teams, being a four-year starting libero and a four-year starting second baseman.

On the softball diamond, she only missed four games in her entire career, being a staple at second base. She was tabbed a 2021 Second Team All-Conference performer. She currently sits tied for ninth all-time in program history in doubles (34).

“Emily loves to compete and does an amazing job with prioritizing her time management so she can excel in all areas of her life,” said softball head coach Shane Bouman.

On the court, she earned Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Honorable Mention All-Conference honors all four years in a Red Raider uniform. She has been a three-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Scholar-Athlete (2020, 2021, 2022).

This past season, she was sixth in the GPAC in digs/set averaging 4.72 digs/set, notching a grand total of 549 digs on the season. She averaged .31 aces/set, which ranked top-15 in the GPAC (11th).

“Emily has been a staple in our backrow for the last 4 years. She is a hard worker and balances her time well with being a two-sport student athlete. Emily takes great pride in being a great teammate as it shows by the respect she has from her teammates,” notes head volleyball coach Kyle Van Den Bosch. “Excelling in one sport in college is not easy to do and she has excelled in two sports with the Spring of 2021 doing both the volleyball postseason play and softball at the same time.”


Northwestern football’s all-time passing leader Tyson Kooima (Sr., Hull, Iowa) has been voted the male recipient of the Vander Stoep Award. The four-year starter at quarterback led the Red Raiders to four straight NAIA Football Championship Series (FCS) appearances, including the quarterfinals in 2018, semifinals in 2021, and the National Championship game in 2020. The National Championship game run marked NWC’s first appearance since 1984.

“There have been many outstanding players to put on a Red Raider football uniform. Tyson is right up there with the best to ever play at Northwestern,” commented head football coach Matt McCarty. “He made an immediate impact as a freshman, and shattered every record possible during his playing career. He was an elite competitor who fueled the belief that we could win every time we stepped on the field.”

Additionally, Kooima was named the NAIA Player of the Year in 2020, as well as the GPAC Player of the Year. As the Raider starting quarterback, the Hull, Iowa native won more games than any other player in Northwestern football history.

Statistically, he nearly doubled Lee Mckinstrey’s old career passing record of 7,673 yards with a whopping 14,598 yards. He’s the only Red Raider in program history to notch 100+ touchdown passes in a career (123), and has 400+ more completions (951) than Dave Bloemendaal’s old mark of 509.


The oldest of all the athletic awards presented at Northwestern College, the Vander Stoep Award began in 1946 by Arie Vander Stoep, a former business manager at the college. In 1978 Don Vander Stoep joined Arie in sponsoring the award. One award was presented annually to a male athlete until 1978-79 when a second award was added for women.

The award, which can be won by juniors and seniors, takes into consideration attitude and sportsmanship on and off the playing field and comparative contribution made to the success of the team.

To be eligible, the athletes must have attended Northwestern College for four consecutive semesters. He or she must also have participated in one or two major sports for at least two years, while earning a minimum of two varsity letters in one or more sports.


Blake Pomajzl (Sedalia, Mo./Smith-Cotton) was a four-year letter winner on the Northwestern College wrestling team. He was the 2021 Wrestling Champion of Character for the program, while earning the program’s “The Raider” award this past year (the award given to the wrestling program’s most valuable wrestler).

For three-straight years he was named an NAIA Scholar-Athlete for his performance in the classroom, while also leading a team Bible study on Monday nights.

“Blake has been a leader on the wrestling team since his sophomore year when he asked to fill in for a captain who was studying abroad,” notes heads wrestling coach Rik Dahl. “Despite being young for the position, Blake immediately showed himself to be an invaluable part of the wrestling team’s leadership.”

While at Northwestern, Pomajzl was instrumental in organizing and facilitating team events, all while excelling in the classroom as an Exercise Science major. He has taken to heart the definition of the Dunlop Award and lived it out. He is set to begin Physical Therapy school this month at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.


The George Dunlop Sportsmanship Award was originated in 1968 by Mike Eischeid in memory of his late grandfather. Eischeid was a punter in the Super Bowl for both the Oakland Raiders and the Minnesota Vikings. The award is given to the man who best typifies what sportsmanship meant to George Dunlop, a former resident of Orange City. The recipient does not have to be a senior but preference is given to seniors.

The winner of the award must be an active participant - in some capacity - in athletics at Northwestern. Athletic ability is not the determining factor. To win, one must represent the finest in character and sportsmanship, not only on the athletic field, but off the field, in classroom activities and his everyday life and relationship with others. He must do his best at all times, regardless of the job or position he is asked to hold or play. He must be known as one who never quits, working always for the good of his team and his school. His character and sportsmanship must be an inspiration to those around him, doing what is right in the sight of God and man.


Volleyball student-athlete Jadeyn Schutt (Jr., Orange City, Iowa) has been voted the Altena Christian Women’s Award winner. She is constantly found involved in different projects and events that help others. She has taken a college-sponsored service project trip every spring break she has been at Northwestern.

“Jadeyn demonstrates her servant heart and leadership by following what Jesus explains from Matthew 20:16, “so the last shall be first, and the first last,” said Van Den Bosch. “She is very respected by her coaches and is looked up to by her peers. She was a captain this past season and was a great example to our younger players of what a servant leader looks like!”

This past summer Schutt spent time in Haiti serving the people. Over Christmas break she was busy visiting people in prison sharing the gospel with inmates, while also helping with ticketing and concessions at NWC athletic events as a way to give back to the athletic department.


The Carl Ver Steeg family, whose daughter is Mary Ver Steeg, established the Christian Women's Award in 1982. Mary was instrumental in the development of varsity women's sports programs at Northwestern College. She coached women's basketball for six years and volleyball for four years. In 2006, the name of the award was changed to the Heidi (Jeltema) Altena Christian Woman Athlete Award in memory of Heidi, who demonstrated a sincere Christian faith and servant heart as well as being an outstanding athlete.

The winner of this award must demonstrate a lifestyle and conduct that reflects her faith and commitment to Jesus Christ while participating in athletics. She must also demonstrate qualities of leadership on and off the court or field.