What is a Raider? What distinguishes a Raider from the rest of the world? There are many different definitions of what a Raider may be, but at Northwestern, a Raider is: one who is fearless, confident and prepared to finish the task through discipline, sacrifice and the relentless pursuit of excellence.
Earl Woudstra is one of the many Raiders who has shown the working power of Jesus Christ. He has made God the main focus of all that he does on this earth, bringing a little bit of heaven here for us to witness.
It was the year of 1974 when young Earl Woudstra came to Northwestern where he got his bachelor’s degree four years later. He then received a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and finished his schooling at the University of Minnesota where he received his Ph.D.
At NW, Woudstra worked part-time as a junior varsity men’s basketball coach until 1984. He began his full-time position as a faculty member in the kinesiology department in 1989, while still coaching other sports like women’s tennis, and most notably, women’s basketball, in which he led the Raiders to four national titles and was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year in each of those years.
By the year 2004, Woudstra became NW’s assistant athletic director and has been the director of the athletic program since 2014. Under his leadership, he has brought many teams to national titles and has continuously made academics and Christianity a high priority in all the sports of NW.
“Earl Woudstra embodies Northwestern College. He is an incredible supporter of not just the wrestling program, but of all programs because he sees how each sport can be a light in a particular life,” said Coach Richard Dahl, head coach of the wrestling program for the past six years. “He is a respected man. He is known for his competitiveness, but he is respected because of his Christ-like qualities that he exhibits day in and day out.”
Not only has Woudstra been a coach and an Athletic Director, but he has also honorably served as a member of the President’s Cabinet as well. Raider Nation has not just won under his outstanding leadership as an Athletic Director, but they have excelled, winning the GPAC All-Sports Trophy in 2017-18, where that same year Woudstra was named the GPAC Athletic Director of the year.
“I have the privilege of working with an incredible group of coaches and staff in the athletic department,” Woudstra said.
He not only played a big part in and oversaw the renovations of the DeWitt Fitness Center in the Rowenhorst Student Center, but he also planned and constructed the Juffer Athletic Fieldhouse as well.
His most recent work done at NW is creating two new club sports – bowling and esports – which has already attracted recruits to campus.
“He lives a meaningful life because he is always pouring into the lives of others, and this is why he’ll be missed,” Dahl said.
Woudstra will now be serving as the city administrator for Orange City where he will have other opportunities to show God’s redeeming work to all sorts of people in the community.
“I am grateful for the opportunities I have had at Northwestern,” he said. “It is an amazing place with a compelling mission. My wife Karen and I will always be Red Raiders!”