Elizabeth “Biz” Van Tiflin and some of the kids she worked with through the YMCA's Healthy U program.
While she’s a lifetime basketball player, Elizabeth “Biz” Van Tiflin, ’12, greatly admired Mia Hamm and the way she led the U.S. women’s soccer team to the World Cup championship in 1999.
“She was my role model,” said Van Tiflin, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. “She and the others on that team sparked an interest in young girls and let them know they can play sports and be on the world stage, too.”
Van Tiflin got a taste of what it’s like to be someone’s role model when she helped coach the girls’ freshmen basketball team at West Catholic High School and the track team at Rockford High School. “To be with the basketball team for an entire year and go through the adversity as well as successes with them, that was very special,” she said.
Van Tiflin started at guard for the Laker basketball team in 2010-2011, ending a four-year career in which she consistently led the team in rebounds. Hanging up a basketball uniform for the last time was difficult, she said.
“It didn’t hit me until a few days after our last game, I thought, ‘I’ve been doing this since I was five years old,’” she said.
However, the competitive spirit lingered. Van Tiflin said she thought about joining Grand Valley’s track team for a season, but opted to concentrate on her student teaching assignments. She does play recreational basketball and spent the summer training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon.
Last summer she also worked for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids’ “Healthy U” program. Van Tiflin and other staff members taught K-12 students about nutrition and fitness by keeping them moving with fun activities and games.
Her summer job mirrored the research Van Tiflin and her classmates presented at a state educators’ conference. “We found different ways to measure fitness, like Zumba, rather than traditional exercises,” she said. “It went over well. People sent emails saying that they were trying it out in their classes and their students loved it.”
While at Grand Valley, Van Tiflin served as president of the Physical Education Club and was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. Eventually, she would like to enroll in graduate school and earn a master’s degree in adaptive physical education.