|Veldhouse makes it four straight
By Bruce Van Baren
As a freshman, Caleb Veldhouse burst onto the scene for the Knights, offering last-second heroics in an upset win over Hope. It was a theme that would continue over the four-year starter’s career.
“He was a very good player for four years,” Coach Kevin Vande Streek said. “It’s just been a privilege to be able to coach him. In my 13 years we’ve only had three players start all four years. That pretty much sums up the impact he’s had.”
Veldhouse concluded his career seventh on the Calvin career scoring list with 1,627 points and second on the Calvin career three-point field goals list with 215.
“I want people to remember that I played the game right, that I loved the game and that I played hard,” he said. “First and foremost, though, that I was a good leader and an ambassador for the school and our Lord.”
A native of Sioux Falls, S.D., Veldhouse was a three-time all-state soccer player for Sioux Falls Christian. But burned out from what might be considered his primary sport, Veldhouse committed to play basketball at Calvin.
“I felt my best opportunity to succeed was to just focus on basketball,” said Veldhouse. “I don’t regret that decision at all.”
He also had the guidance of Vande Streek, a close family friend. Vande Streek moved from his native Wisconsin to South Dakota to coach at the University of Sioux Falls before coming to Calvin.
“It’s almost like coaching one of your sons,” Vande Streek said of Veldhouse. “We had four boys and they had four boys and we raised them all like our own.”
Veldhouse, whose three older brothers also graduated from Calvin, attributes his success to the demands of both his dad, during his high school career, and Vande Streek, during his collegiate career.
“My dad was pretty hard on me growing up, de-manding perfection and the right play at the right time,” he said. “That continued when I came to Calvin under Coach Vande Streek. He really emphasized composure.”
Veldhouse became known for his composure in clutch situations. As a freshman, he knocked down a game-winning jumper at Olivet. But his most memorable moment came towards the end of his inaugural MIAA season when Calvin upset rival Hope at the Fieldhouse.
Calvin trailed fourth-ranked Hope, which had defeated the Knights by double-digits earlier in the season, by two points with under 20 seconds to play. Vande Streek elected to put the ball in the hands of a relatively unknown freshman: “I’ll probably never forget the timeout before that shot saying, ‘Caleb step back, make the three and let’s get out of here.’ He delivered, and he became historic from that moment on.”
Veldhouse drained the shot, which still replays on the hanging scoreboard before each home game inside Van Noord Arena, with 1.7 seconds left to give the Knights a thrilling 59-58 upset win.
“It was just funny to me that no one in their right mind thought I was going to take that shot,” Veldhouse said. “I was just this ‘little tike’ coming in. I was excited that coach called my number.”
The three-year captain made last-second heroics a staple of his career. He hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to force overtime against Aquinas as a junior. As a senior, Veldhouse assisted Matt Veltema’s game winner against Hope in the inaugural rivalry game at Van Noord Arena.
“The biggest thing is to have composure,” Veldhouse said of his last second heroics. “You need to have confidence that you can make the play. If you have composure, confidence and focus in those last-second situations, the majority of the time it will work out in your favor.”
Last-second wins have been a highlight for Veldhouse but not his main focus.
“Obviously they have a great basketball tradition at Calvin, but the education, the community and how I’ve grown personally in my own faith are the biggest factors in me feeling that Calvin is the best place for me.”
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