In the left hand corner of his office, behind an accent chair, there’s a framed photo of Dr. Kalthoff shooting a basketball in the Final Four as a freshman player for Hillsdale College in 1981. His two sons, Peter and Noah, sit across from each other while lounging in his office, all three basketball players — one retired, one junior, and one freshman — together in one room.
Mark Kalthoff, professor and chairman of history, attended Hillsdale College as an undergrad from 1979 – 1984. He played on an outstanding basketball team at Fairmont East High School his senior year, which helped him get recruited by many different colleges. West Point wanted him, a couple of Division I schools talked to him, and other colleges came to watch him at basketball summer camp.
“I was playing in high school with people who later played for the Chicago Bulls,” Mark Kalthoff said. “I was very fortunate to have that kind of exposure.”
But Bill Morse, the head basketball coach for Hillsdale College at the time, called Mark Kalthoff and mentioned the large amount of scholarships they provided and even offered him a paid visit. The team needed a big man and Morse wanted to see how well Kalthoff could play.
“I love Michigan. We used to go to Michigan for vacation and had family friends up there,” Mark Kalthoff said. “So my dad and I drove up. I had to play one-on-one against a senior starting center and played a lot of full court.”
Within a week, he received a scholarship offer. In the meantime, he received a tour of campus and met faculty who offered to sit down with him in their office — providing him great personal attention. With all these factors, Mark Kalthoff signed the letter of intent and came to Hillsdale. He joined the basketball team in 1981, which was the best team the college has had, with a record of 28 – 7.
“We won the GLIAC, went to the national tournament, and made it to the Final Four in the country.” Mark Kalthoff said. “So back-to-back, I was on the best team for my highschool and the best team for my college.”
Noah Kalthoff, junior at Hillsdale College and the eldest son of Mark Kalthoff, shares a strong background in basketball like his father. Similar to his father’s decision, Noah chose Hillsdale because it had the best academics and basketball out of all his potential choices.
“The combination of those and it being local with my family made it the right option and decision at the time,” Noah said. “From a very little age, it was the highlight of my week where I could go to the 8 o’clock tip-off basketball games for the college.”
Growing up cheering on his favorite players every year, Noah has fond memories of Hillsdale basketball, and it was a dream of his to play at the same school where his father and his favorite players did.
“My dad played there, someday I’m going to play here.” Noah said of his thought process. “It’s fun when the opportunity presented itself my senior year. I had a conversation with [head coach] John Tharp, and it became areality that I was going to be on the team — very fun and very exciting.”
Noah considered smaller, Division III schools before settling on Hillsdale, but he decided that if he were to continue with basketball, Hillsdale was his only option.
“I came from a small school, the [Hillsdale] Academy. I had a lot to learn in basketball because I only played a couple of years — get bigger, get stronger. Learn how to play at a level where I wasn’t the biggest guy on the court,” Noah said. “That’s what the first year is aimed at. The second, third year, and so on you have that chance to step and catch up.”
For Peter Kalthoff, a freshman at Hillsdale College and the youngest son of Mark Kalthoff, Hillsdale was always a known option for him. However, he was torn between choosing Hillsdale or the University of Michigan for its violin program.
He always had an interest in music growing up, and spends plenty of time studying violin with a music teacher at Michigan. Yet, he chose Hillsdale because of the community and to maintain his passion for violin as a hobby instead of committing to a career in violin.
“I knew that I would enjoy playing basketball, and I like keeping myself in shape. It gave me a couple of chances to play with my brother and to be part of that basketball family at Hillsdale,” Peter said. “We’ve only had one practice, and so far, there have been no fights.”
Peter and Noah don’t actually fight at all, but Peter said he’s grateful to share some of his basketball years with his older brother.
“It’s been really great to have an older brother on the team. There have been less unknowns and I’m already familiar with the program and what’s going on,” Peter said. “I also have dad and other older siblings who have gone here, so I’m doubly familiar with the program.”
With three older sisters and a mother as Hillsdale graduates, the Kalthoffs have a strong legacy with the college. Mark Kalthoff and his wife were both collegiate athletes, Mrs. Kalthoff was a two-sport athlete in track and volleyball, and met as undergrads. They both returned to Hillsdale after Mrs. Kalthoff was hired to be the director of admissions and gave birth to their first child during Dr. Kalthoff’s doctoral studies.
“I needed to get a job because she couldn’t be director of admissions and have a new baby. So she quit and I started teaching here the day my daughter, their oldest sister, was born.” said Dr. Kalthoff. “Their whole life has been part of the Hillsdale family.”
Noah values the college community he created separate from the town he grew up in because he believes the two communities are very distinct from each other. But now, the college community that he’s formed over the past three and a half years is shared with his father, brother, and the rest of his family, making it all the more cherishable.
“It’s cool to have those two communities,” Noah said. “Now the best two communities in my life are overlapping: my family and school.”
The Kalthoffs hold a strong relationship with Hillsdale, and the connection is familial. Choosing the college seemed natural and familiar for Noah and Peter, and they look forward to the years they will be playing basketball together.
After their parents and sisters, Peter and Noah continue their family’s legacy on campus and on the court — supporting each other as brothers, students, and teammates.