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Four-year player adjusts to changing roles
By Jeff Febus

Brook Van EckWhen looking back at Brook Van Eck’s four-year career as a student-athlete at Calvin College, two enduring traits stand out above the rest. First, Van Eck never backed down from a challenge and secondly, Van Eck always did what she could for the good of her teammates.

“There is no question in my mind that those are the two things that stand out the most to me about Brook Van Eck,” said Calvin women’s basketball coach John Ross. “At 5-9 she was a little undersized to play in the post but she never backed down and always stepped up to the challenge. If you look at her four years in our program, we also asked her to do something different each year and she never complained. Her main focus was always on what she could do to help her teammates win games. As a coach, you can’t put a price tag on an attitude like that.”

Van Eck most likely would have never arrived at Calvin had Ross not noticed her while playing against another Calvin recruit at Lowell High School (Mich.). “It’s kind of funny when I look back on it,” said Van Eck. “I had lived in the Grand Rapids area for my entire life, but I did not know Calvin even existed. I did pretty well in a game that Coach Ross was at and he came up to talk to me after the game. I came over to campus for a visit and the rest as they say is history. It all worked out pretty well.”

A two-time first team All-MIAA selection, Van Eck is one of only seven players in Calvin women’s basketball history to score more than 1,000 points and record more than 500 rebounds. She’s 12th on the Calvin career-scoring list with 1,001 points and sixth on the Calvin careerrebound list with 555 rebounds. As a senior, she was named the Most Valuable Player of the Wilmington (Ohio) Tip-Off Tournament and landed a spot on the Olivet Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament team. A special education major, Van Eck has also excelled in the classroom, consistently earning a spot on the Calvin Dean’s List and MIAA Academic Honor Roll and landing a berth on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District third team. Brook Van Eck headshot

On the court, Van Eck has faced different challenges in each of her four years on the varsity. As a freshman Van Eck played a valuable role off the bench, averaging 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds a game. At the conclusion of the regular season, Calvin received a bid to the NCAA III Tournament but entered the tournament without the services of key players Kristi Brummel and Marcia Harris who were injured the week before. As a result, Van Eck was asked to play more minutes, and she responded, averaging nine points and five rebounds a game off the bench as the Knights advanced to the national quarterfinals before finishing 28-3. “Everyone had to pick up the slack,” said Van Eck. “Our tournament run that year was pretty amazing because of how everyone pulled together.”

As a sophomore, Van Eck moved into a starting role at power forward, averaging eight points and six rebounds a game. She remained at power forward as a junior but had to make a sudden adjustment as starting center and leading scorer Marcia Harris was injured once again, leaving the focal point of the offense centered around Van Eck. She responded by averaging 15.1 points a game in league play, missing the MIAA scoring title by just five points. As a senior, Van Eck was not called upon to score with as much frequency. Nevertheless, she continued to lead in a variety of ways, averaging 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. Compiling a 24-5 record, the Knights advanced to the NCAA III Tournament for the first time since Van Eck’s freshman year. “Getting back to the tournament was awesome, “said Van Eck. “It was such a great experience for me as a freshman and I wanted our young players to have that same experience too.”

Van Eck will return to Calvin in the fall to begin her student teaching assignments. During the fall semester, she will student teach in an elementary school. During the spring, she will receive her special education student teaching assignment. Her future vocational goals are to teach at an urban school and to coach basketball, perhaps at a high school level. “Calvin has done a wonderful job of preparing me for the future,” said Van Eck. “I can’t say enough about my professors, particularly my education advisor Dr. (Tom) Hoeksema. Whenever I have had struggles, he has been there to help me. He has helped me learn more about myself and who I want to be as an educator.”