Ross Douma, director of athletics at Dordt University, has been named President of Avail Academy, a K-12 Christian school with locations in the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Given Dordt’s strong relationship with Avail Academy, a fall timeline for a leadership transition will be developed that works for Douma, for Dordt, and for Avail Academy. A search process will commence immediately for the role of Director of Athletics at Dordt.
Douma has been at Dordt since 2009, where he served as men’s basketball coach for nine seasons. He later became associate athletic director for nearly three years before taking on the role of director of athletics in June 2017.
“It has been a privilege to serve at Dordt University for the past 14 years,” says Douma. “I am grateful the Lord has allowed me the opportunity to be part of an authentic Christian learning community that strives daily to prepare and equip young people for kingdom service. I am indebted to the Dordt campus community, the Sioux Center community, and Defender Nation for graciously supporting me during my tenure at Dordt.”
Douma’s influence on Dordt athletics has been substantial and will continue to be felt for decades to come, says Dr. Erik Hoekstra, president of Dordt University. “The upgrades in facilities and the improvement in our winning percentages are certainly marks of Ross’ leadership, but more important to me is the Christian character of our program and the Christ-centered manner that our teams have competed. Our Dordt athletes have been developed in accordance with ‘The Defender Way’ during Ross’ time at Dordt.”
While Douma served as director of athletics, Dordt adopted and championed The Defender Way, four principles based on Romans 12:1 that summarize Defender athletics’ commitment and approach to competitive athletics. This philosophy has led to success both on the field and in the classroom, especially in the 2022-23 athletic season. Dordt was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) All-Sports Trophy champion; it was the first time in institutional history that Dordt took home the All-Sports Trophy. Dordt men’s cross country claimed the 2022 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championship in November. The Defenders won six total conference championships in men’s cross country, women’s cross country, women’s basketball, men’s basketball, men’s indoor track & field, and men’s outdoor track & field. Dordt also had 12 teams in the top four of the GPAC standings, and Dordt coaches received seven GPAC Coach of the Year awards. All this was accomplished while the varsity teams’ GPAs were over 3.0, which meant that all teams achieved NAIA Scholar status; the athletic department saw a total varsity GPA of 3.52.
Douma was selected as the 2021-22 Hauff Mid-America Sports/Great Plains Athletic Conference Athletic Director of the Year.
Douma has been instrumental in establishing the Defender Gold Club, which was established to promote interest and support for Dordt athletics while providing an enriching experience for student-athletes.
Director of Athletic Communication Mike Byker says that Douma gave coaches and staff the space to take ownership of their programs and the student-athletes in their care. “He pushed us to sharpen and refine our skills while challenging us to grow as Christians and to view athletics as a vehicle to further God’s kingdom. I am sad I won’t be working directly with him moving forward, but I’m excited to see God’s redemptive work done through him at Avail Academy.”
“Ross has done an awesome job of keeping The Defender Way in front of us coaches and holding us accountable,” says Bill Harmsen, women’s basketball coach. “We have had a direct line of communication with Ross; he’s been more than willing to help and encourage us. He also knows our athletes well. It’s been wonderful to have leadership that provides a vision and helps support the execution of that vision.”
“The coaches and staff in Dordt’s athletic department are exemplary and have been a joy to partner with,” adds Douma. “I will miss them dearly. Their intentional efforts to passionately impact Defender student-athletes are motivating and inspiring. Dordt University is a special place with special people.”
About Dordt University
As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.