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SIOUXLAND ATHLETES OF YEAR

SIOUXLAND FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Ashtyn Veerbeek was a cut above rest in two sports

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Siouxland athlete of the year Ashtyn Veerbeek

Ashtyn Veerbeek, a basketball and volleyball standout at Western Christian High School in Hull, Iowa is the Journal's 2018 Siouxland female athlete of the year. 

HULL, Iowa – Although her senior season in each of her sports ended in disappointment, Hull Western Christian’s Ashtyn Veerbeek simply stood out among the rest.

The 6-foot-2 Veerbeek, a dominating force on both the volleyball and basketball courts, is honored today as the Sioux City Journal Siouxland Female Athlete of the Year.

It’s difficult to compare Veerbeek to her peers in either sport. The numbers speak for themselves, 550 kills and 133 blocks in volleyball and 619 points and 346 rebounds during her senior season alone.

The University of Nebraska women’s basketball recruit ranked first in Iowa Class 2A in both kills and blocks, while her 25.8 points-per-game scoring average in basketball ranked first and the 14.4 boards per contest was second-best statewide.

Western Christian finished as state runner-up in Class 2A volleyball last fall, but Veerbeek played on two state championship teams for her mother, Tammi Veerbeek, who has guided the Wolfpack to 829 wins and 10 state titles.

In basketball, Western lost in a regional final on a last-second heave that banked in, denying Veerbeek a fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament. However, she was also part of a state championship team in that sport.

“She grew up around the game of volleyball being a coach’s kid,” Tammi Veerbeek said. “I always felt like she had a lot of knowledge about the game. As a coach you hoped one day that she would grow to love it and I always hoped she would be good at it one day.

“It was an awesome experience having her those four years in high school and she even exceeded my expectations in that she developed into a fantastic hitter and blocker for us. Every year that went on her leadership and her responsibility grew and you could really see that her senior year.”

The ultra-talented Veerbeek could have easily chosen volleyball as a collegiate sport so when it came time to make a decision, it was extremely difficult.

“People recognize her because of basketball and everybody knew she was going to go to Nebraska so that’s what they focused on,” Tammi Veerbeek said. “What they didn’t know is she probably could have gone a lot of different places for volleyball, too, and we kind of kept that to ourselves.

“I supported her basketball hopes and dreams but she could have been a heck of a volleyball player, too.”

In fact, Ashtyn, who has spent the summer at Nebraska taking classes and working out with the Husker basketball team, has become friends with some of the Nebraska volleyball players.

“She peeks in their gym and today they were having camps there so some people recognized her,” Tammi Veerbeek said. “Mikaela Foecke, an amazing volleyball player at Nebraska, asked Ashtyn if she missed it and Ashtyn said ‘totally.’ She's excited to be at a great volleyball school and can’t wait to go to the games, it’s still in her blood. She wishes she could do both but that’s not how it works at the D-I level.”

Veerbeek was previously honored as The Journal’s Player of the Year in both volleyball and girls basketball.

Ron and Tammi Veerbeek’s 18-year-old daughter set school records with 1,871 points and 1,122 rebounds and played on Western Christian basketball teams that compiled an eye-popping 91-13 record over the past four seasons.

“More than the records, numbers and accolades, it was just her character and passion for the game, her drive to be as good as she can be,” Western Christian girls basketball coach Justin Negen said. “It’s what made her an elite player and great teammate and that’s why Western Christian has had so much success in both sports over the last four seasons.”

Tammi Veerbeek, of course, has to straddle the thin line between coach and parent but there is no hiding the fact that she’s proud of her daughter’s accomplishments.

“It was really neat to see her grow from her freshman year when she was shy and trying to make her way in the sports at Western, which are very competitive, to watch her blossom into a leader to the younger girls and a role model,” Tammi Veerbeek said. “She helps at camps and is always around the young kids and is someone they really look up to. We’re proud of who she became in sports at Western. It helped build that character and mold her into the person she is today.”

VOLLEYBALL: The 6-2 senior hammered 550 kills and registered 133 blocks, which ranked first in Class 2A in both categories. She led the Wolfpack to a state runner-up finish after playing on two state championship teams for her mother, longtime Western Coach Tammi Veerbeek.

BASKETBALL: The University of Nebraska recruit averaged 25.8 points per game to rank first in Class 2A and 14.4 rebounds, which was second second-best statewide. She set school career records in scoring (1,871 points) and rebounding (1,122) and played on teams that compiled a 91-13 record over the past four seasons.

SIOUXLAND FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

1981 Lois Groen (Sioux Center)

1982 Amy Allard (Jefferson, S.D.)

1983 Vonda Broek (Unity Christian)

1984 Vonda Velgersdyk (Hull WC)

1985 Cara Coughenour (Kingsley-Pierson)

1986 Vicki Rahbusch (Sutherland)

1987 Ann Halsne (Spencer)

1988 Kathy Halligan (West Sioux)

1989 Alisa Nonneman (Hartley HMS)

1990 Nikki Newberg (Hinton)

1991 Amy Schuver (Cherokee)

1992 Barb Zoet (Boyden-Hull)

1993 Missy Lange (Boyden-Hull)

1994 Lisa Reitsma (Hull WC)

1995 Peggy Bakalyar (MVAO)

1996 Tammy Blackstone (Cherokee)

1997 Nancy Meendering (Hull WC)

1998 Darci Bouma (Unity Christian)

1999 Allison Kruger (South O’Brien)

2000 Katie Lokken (Denison-Schleswig)

2001 Mikkell Korver (MOC-Floyd Valley)

2002 Katy Grady (Le Mars)

2003 Deb Remmerde (Rock Valley)

2004 Amanda Eekhoff (Hull WC)

2005 Ramsey Kavan (Yankton, S.D.)

2006 Kala Kuhlmann (Charter Oak-Ute)

2007 Amber Hegge (Crofton, Neb.)

2008 Alicia Brown (Vermillion, S.D.)

2009 Kendra DeJong (Unity Christian)

2010 Slone Masters (Storm Lake)

2011 Kayla Gesink (Hull WC)

2012 Stephanie Rohe (Gehlen)

2013 Brooke Wolterstorff (Hull WC)

2014 Alexis Conaway (MOC-FV)

2015 Jamie Gesink (Hull WC)

2016 Anna Kiel (Unity Christian)

2017 Jessica Harald (Sioux Center)

2018 Ashtyn Veerbeek (Hull WC)

Selected by The Sioux City Journal

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