Basketball player Michaela VanderKlugt living out her collegiate dreams

The Concordia Courier

VanderKlugt in action

By Jenna Hoffman | 4/8/2022

Graduate student and basketball player Michaela VanderKlugt has been named first team all-American and DII CAA west regional player of the year. That’s not all, though. VanderKlugt is also the all-time leading rebounder in school history, and in the PacWest she is conference player of the year, and she has scored over 2000 points in her collegiate career. The list goes on for VanderKlugt. 

When asked what her biggest motivation is, VanderKlugt said, “I feel like my biggest motivation is just to be better than last season's version of myself. I never want to be predictable or repetitive in my movements. Due to this, I am always adding new things to my game and pushing myself to be better than the old version of myself.”

VanderKlugt has grown and matured in many ways over her collegiate career but believes she has grown the most in her communication. She said, “Over the years, I have had to learn how to communicate with teammates, coaches, and any other staff about difficult topics and smooth ones as well.” She added, “When I was younger, I used to be quite emotional, whereas, the older me can take certain emotions and turn them into energy or drive for the next play.” 

As a leader and high achiever, VanderKlugt has many strengths. She said, “I think some of my strengths as a teammate is that I am very solution oriented. I will help you out find a solution to your problem or if I do not have the answers, I will direct you in the direction of someone who might. I think another strength I have as a teammate is, I am always ready to compete.” VanderKlugt added, “Every time I stepped onto the court, I was ready to compete and leave my heart out there.” 

VanderKlugt hopes to continue her career on the court by playing professional basketball overseas. She added, “I am currently in the process of looking for an agent and then from there hopefully will get picked up by a team and leave in September.”

When asked about the honors she’s received, VanderKlugt said, “It's been hard to put into words just how I feel. I feel grateful, excited, worthy, humbled and happy to just name a few. All the extra hours of training I have put in when I did not have to were all finally paying off.” 

Head coach Christine Collins-Kiernan spoke highly of VanderKlugt. She said, “Michaela's consistency and resilience has been something I have marveled at over the last five years. She has not missed one practice, one game.” Collins-Kiernan added, “Every day she showed up and competed like it mattered more to her than anyone and fostered that same environment to her teammates, she raised the level of competition every day.”

Collins-Kiernan continued, “Very few athletes work like she works. She takes every bit of her development and that of our programs seriously. Michaela does the extra reps, treats every drill like it will be the game winner, and schedules basketball development into her day.”

“My first thought was, "Wow what a great story this will be... the kid who had so few offers, so few who saw her magic, and how she so greatly manifested a career on sheer work ethic and incredibly strong will,” Collins-Kiernan said, concluding, “She found her place, found the people who believed in her and got to work building and being a part of something bigger than herself, and in the end, she got more than she even thought possible.”

Tags: women's athletics, game

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