Heather Van Wieren - Working on History

Heather Van Wieren
Women's Basketball
Fifth Year

Some day Heather Van Wieren wants to be a history teacher. For now, she's getting a chance to be a teacher on a Spartans team that's making history. Being the only fifth year player on a young and promising Trinity Western women's basketball team, Heather has taken on a leadership role, and she's leading by example.

"Leading by example is a huge thing, and on a team where there's not one superstar you have to do everything your best," the Walnut Gove, B.C. native said. "It's just great being in that leadership role because you know you have that responsibility, and I really do enjoy that. You can show (the younger players) what you want them to be like, and they have someone to look up to."

The Spartans notched their fifth Canada West victory in just their eighth game, which gives them the best start in the program's CIS history. Heather has lost a lot of games in her career, so the opportunity she has this season is certainly not lost on her.

"It's been a lot of fun because the girls are really willing to work hard," Heather says. "I am glad that I've had the four years before, because you learn to appreciate it and work through the tough times when they do come. Coming out strong this season has been a great experience."

Her presence on the team is not lost on first year Head Coach Kerby Court either.

"I have been both surprised and incredibly pleased by the way that Heather has really taken hold of this team and made it her own," Court said. "As our only fifth year player, we needed that. She has a mild manner, but is not afraid to tell it like it is. She holds her teammates accountable to what they say they want to do, when actions don't match up with talk."

If Heather's going to make sure her teammates action match up with their talk, then naturally the same rules apply to her. That's meant accepting the position she's been given, which is to do a little of everything. Coach Court believes in a team of unselfish players that puts the needs of the team ahead of their own. Some seniors might scoff at the idea of being asked to do the dirty work instead of getting all the glory as the go-to scorer. But not Heather.

"We talk about that a lot with this team: give your best effort every night," said Heather. "Attention to detail, set the screen, get the rebound, play good defense. For me, leading that way is really important."

It certainly shows. She's third on the team in points (6.5 per game), second in rebounds (6.4 per game), third in minutes played (21.1 per night), and is one of the top free throw shooters in the conference at 84%. That kind of all-around productivity is exactly what her coach is looking for.

"She is the consummate team player, and does everything I ask to the best of her ability," Coach Court says. "She has really stepped up this year and lead both on the court and off. She is both a friend and a mentor to gals on the team. She has even stepped up and done some class tutoring when a few of her teammates have needed help in the classroom as well."

There again is her passion for helping those and being a positive role model. For Heather, she wants to teach because of the huge impact her teachers have had on her.

"When I was in high school I had a lot of great teachers," the future high school history professor remembers. "In high school you're at an age where you're easily influenced, and it's really important to have some strong figures that you can model yourself after, and can encourage you to be the person you're going to be. I want to make high school fun and a good experience."

She's also learned from her experiences, and can pass that wisdom on. Heather didn't play much her first two years, so when she sees some of her younger teammates who aren't getting the minutes they want, she knows exactly how that feels: "I've been through that, so I'm able to encourage the younger girls that aren't playing or getting as many minutes to keep working hard and that there's more good things ahead."

There certainly looks to be more good things ahead for the Spartans as they battle for playoff positioning in the Canada West conference. Heather will be leading the way, and leading by example.

Last Updated: 2008-01-10
Author: Jeff Kilpatrick