Campus Life

Getting back in the win column

Kim Veldman only knew winning as a southern Alberta high school basketball player. Now, in her third year as a member of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women's basketball team, she is getting reacquainted with that feeling.

Veldman and the Pronghorns have fashioned a 5-5 start to the 2012-13 Canada West season and are in the thick of the race for a playoff position. After seasons in which the Horns won just four and six games respectively, it's a welcome light at the end of a two-year tunnel.

Kim Veldman has taken on a leadership role with the Pronghorns.

"It feels good to put in the effort and to see some results, it's almost a weird feeling to be winning again," says Veldman, a product of Lethbridge's Immanuel Christian High School and a three-time provincial 2A champion. "It was different being on the losing end, but it teaches you some lessons you might otherwise not learn. When I played at Immanuel Christian, I went into a team that was consistently good and expected to win. When I came to this level, I had to learn to really push myself to try and be better than the rest and it was a big change."

Veldman has played a key role in the Horns' resurgence this season. As a returning starter, she is averaging more than 31 minutes per game and is the team's leading rebounder. Moved from a strictly post position to that of a swing forward, she has flourished with the added responsibility of playing both an inside and outside game.

"Being a starter now and having that responsibility of playing more minutes has meant a lot to me and changed the way I approach the game," says Veldman. "I have to be focused all the time because the team needs me now, especially given that I need to play a lot of minutes because we don't have the depth in numbers that other teams might have."

First-year head coach Erin McAleenan has leaned on Veldman as one of her key performers and has been impressed by her progression.

"Being able to use her as both an inside and outside threat has helped us," says McAleenan. "We don't have a lot of depth, so we've really tried to run some sets that highlight our best players and give them opportunities to succeed. I think Kim's improved a lot over the course of the season and responded well to that challenge."

A third-year nursing student, Veldman has always succeeded in the classroom, even when the Horns had trouble finding success on the court. She has been an Academic All-Canadian in her first two seasons and continues to strike the balance between student and athlete.

"I've always been blessed with the talent of time management," she says. "I'll admit I am a procrastinator but I think basketball really helps me with that because it forces me to get down and do my work."

As a nursing student, Veldman is taxed with completing practicum rotations amidst a busy practice schedule.

"It's tough some days to come to practice after working a shift from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., then you need to find the time to eat and get to practice by 4 p.m. and be focused and ready to go," she says. "But I love it. I just did my rural acute rotation out in Taber and it was great. I think I'll really love it as a career once I finish school."

While she admits she has room to grow as a team leader, her coach says the work she puts in leads by example and hints at things to come.

"I think she's done a really good job in terms of managing her time as both a strong student and good athlete, and she not only balances them well but excels in both, and that sets a great example for her teammates," says McAleenan. "She's a quiet personality and not a real vocal leader or take-charge player with her teammates but I don't know if she's been asked to do that before. I think developing more confidence in her own role will help with that, because you have to be able to lead yourself before you lead others."

As the second half of the season and Veldman's career tip off simultaneously, it is intriguing to think of the opportunities ahead.

"I'm excited to see what happens. There are some tough teams we're going to face but I think we're ready for the challenge," says Veldman. "I feel like we still need to get more comfortable with having success and learn more about how to finish off games but we've really come a long way."


· Veldman takes to nursing naturally. Her mother Heidi is an intensive care unit nurse and her younger sister Jenae is training to become a Licensed Practical Nurse

· She has three older brothers, Ryan, Daniel and Douglas, who all played basketball and still work out with her to improve her post moves

· Veldman had a season-high 20-point effort in one of the Horns' key victories this season, a 72-66 win at the University of Victoria

· Veldman enjoys working in rural hospitals, giving her the chance to work in surgery and medicine

This story first appeared in the January 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the entire issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.