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Athlete of the week: Dakota Christian's Brooklyn Vander Pol

NEW HOLLAND — After playing point guard in her first two seasons, Dakota Christian’s Brooklyn Vander Pol has quickly adapted to playing in front court this season.

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The 5-foot-9 junior forward led the Cadets to wins in two of three games last week, nearly averaging a double-double along the way.

“Everybody looks up to her and she always wants the ball in her hands when the game is on the line,” Dakota Christian coach Shane Niewenhuis said. “Every coach wants to have a player like that on their team.”

She started her week off with a 19-point, nine-rebound performance against Gregory on Dec. 17, and followed that up with 16 points in a loss to Ethan on Thursday.

The Cadets, now 4-1 on the season, quickly bounced back Saturday on the strength of 24 points and 11 rebounds from Vander Pol in a 67-53 win over Wagner in New Holland.

For her efforts, Vander Pol has been named The Daily Republic’s athlete of the week, an award voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff.

Vander Pol is a third-year starter for Dakota Christian and fills up the stat sheet on a nightly basis for the Cadets.

Through five games this season, she is averaging 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“Over the last three years, she has matured a lot in terms of her overall basketball skills,” Niewenhuis said. “Her leadership has really come a long way.”

The leadership on the court is something that Vander Pol embraces as a veteran for the Cadets.

“I have to be a leader on the court and be there for my team,” Vander Pol said. “As a team we are getting comfortable playing together and it’s great.”

Vander Pol also plays volleyball and is on the track & field team for Dakota Christian. She is a hitter on the volleyball team and throws discus and shot put for track and field. But basketball is her No. 1 sport.

“I like that it’s a more physical and hands on sport,” Vander Pol said of playing basketball.

This season, Brooklyn shares the court with two of her cousins — fresh- man Ahna Vander Pol and sophomore Shayla Vander Pol.

“It’s great to play with them and I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” Brooklyn said of having her cousins on the team with her. “We are always trying to see who is better and improve together.”

The Cadets are off until a matchup with Mount Vernon/Plankinton on Jan. 2 in Plankinton.