HULL, Iowa – Players like Ashtyn Veerbeek don’t come around very often. In fact, the Hull Western Christian senior can best be described as a once-in-a-generation performer.
You simply can’t teach some of the skills the 6-foot-2 athlete possesses, skills that helped her set school records with 1,871 points and 1,122 rebounds and play on teams that compiled an astounding 91-13 record over the past four seasons.
Veerbeek, named the Sioux City Journal Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second straight season, put together a banner senior campaign before heading off to the University of Nebraska.
“She had a tremendous senior campaign and that’s just a culmination of four years of a whole lot of work on her end,” said Justin Negen, who was fortunate enough to coach Veerbeek the last two seasons. “To see her continue to develop as a player and this year, especially, as a senior, a captain and a leader, was just really fun to watch as a coach.”
Veerbeek ranked third statewide in scoring with a 25.8 average and second in rebounding at 14.4 per contest. She scored 619 points and pulled down 346 rebounds in her final prep season.
A three-time first team all-stater, Veerbeek played in three state tournaments, winning one. This year’s team came within a miracle shot by North Union of advancing to a fourth consecutive state tourney.
“This year was a lot different, we graduated a lot of great seniors last year so sophomores had to step up and fill those roles,” Veerbeek said. “I knew I would have to take on the spot as the leader and lead the other kids and help them fill their roles and be positive with them.
“The season went really well, we were undefeated before Christmas and I think a lot of people doubted what we could do. Even though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to I think we accomplished good things and really started playing together as a team.”
Negen said he and his superstar had several discussions over the course of her career, but even more this year because they had such a young team.
“A lot of our discussions this year were good players can score and rebound but great players make everybody else around them better,” said the Wolfpack boss. “That was really something she worked at, to get her teammates involved. She sees the floor so well, can play inside and outside and can make passes from all of those positions. It was fun to watch her develop that part of her game as well.
“The old adage is records are made to be broken, but when you look at her going over 1,800 points and 1,100 rebounds, it’s going to be a long time before somebody at Western touches those again."
Veerbeek burst onto the scene as a freshman under Coach Bill Harmsen, who guided the Wolfpack to three state championships. She averaged 9.1 points as a freshman, 15.7 as a sophomore and 22.8 as a junior when the Wolfpack won the 2A state title.
Veerbeek was also an all-stater in volleyball, playing for her mother, Tammi Veerbeek, one of the most highly successful coaches in state history. She decided last season, though, that basketball would be the route she would take in college and committed early to Nebraska.
And, her future coach, Amy Williams, couldn’t be happier. Williams first recruited Veerbeek when she was coaching at South Dakota and just finished her second season at Nebraska.
“The No. 1 thing is, she’s a winner,” Williams said. “She’s competitive and versatile but just wants to win and has brought a lot of winning to Western Christian. To watch her AAU team this past season make it all the way to the championship game of the Nike circuit was incredible.
“One of the things we’re so excited about is that she’s very versatile, which fits into our system very nicely. She can score in a lot of different ways. I think the thing I’m maybe the most excited about right now is she’s a fantastic rebounder. That’s an underrated skill in my opinion, but so critical and vital.”