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Calvin center makes adjustments off the court
By Abe Huyser-Honig
Mandy VanDenBosch - click photo to enlarge image
Mandy VanDenBosch stayed actively involved with her team despite her injuries

Injury may have kept junior Mandy VanDenBosch off the basketball court this year, but it couldn't keep her out of the game. Still recovering from surgery last May that required actually breaking and repositioning her heel bone, VanDenBosch crossed a line few athletes do and spent the past season seeing basketball from a coach's perspective.

The powerful center made Calvin's varsity squad her freshman year, and as a sophomore already proved to be a pillar of the team, starting in most games and serving as one of the team's tri-captains.

Off-court, though, she was already struggling with chronic pain in her right ankle. Several weeks into track practice (VanDenBosch set a Calvin record in the shot-put her freshman year), she says "it got to the point where I could barely walk." An appointment with the doctor confirmed that overuse had torn ligaments and tendons so badly that surgery would be necessary to repair them.

"It was really hard at first," VanDenBosch says of her transition from athlete to coaching staff. "I had never been on the sidelines and sat on the bench not in a uniform. But it turned out to be wonderful." After overcoming initial qualms about "coaching" her own peers, VanDenBosch found that a delightful relationship of mutual respect formed between herself and the players. Some of her favorite memories of the season are long road trips that fostered the team's camaraderie.

"I appreciated Mandy's willingness to stay actively involved with the women's basketball program and team despite being injured...she committed a lot of time to the team," says head coach Kim Gall. As student assistant, VanDenBosch helped with drills, ran errands, kept track of the play chart during games, acted as a go-between for the players and the coaches, and helped the coaches make decisions.

"This was a really good opportunity for me," says VanDenBosch, who is majoring in elementary education. "I realize I'm not always going to be able to play, so someday I'd like to coach my own team." It runs in the family: her dad has been coaching basketball for almost thirty years, including three years coaching his daughter at West Side Christian Middle School and Grand Rapids Christian High.

Though she's feeling stronger, the jury is still out on whether VanDenBosch's foot will be strong enough to get back on the court next season. For now, she's concentrating on track season, and trying to throw the shot a little farther…

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