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The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

Van Gelder makes his way to varsity

Joey Gerard
Van Gelder with his parents on senior night.

Westside senior basketball player John Van Gelder has seen it all throughout his highschool career. Van Gelder has battled through the Westside program, and has proven to the coaches on why he deserves a spot on the team.

“It’s a battle,” Van Gelder said. “Every day you have to show up ready to play. If you have a couple bad days in a row, or you don’t really feel like doing anything, the coaches see that. They get the sense that you don’t want to be here anymore, and the next year, you’re let go.”

It’s this hardworking character that Van Gelder is known for from other players and coaches that has solidified his spot as leader on the varsity team, despite a minimal role on the team. Van Gelder’s been able to show his coaches why he’s earned his spot through four years of battling up the ranks.

“It’s definitely really hard,” Van Gelder said. “That’s why you don’t see a lot of people doing it. A lot of people can’t stand the test of time. You have to go to every lift, all the morning workouts, all the ones in the summer, and everything after school. It’s a lot, it’s hard on your body. But I enjoy it, and I’ve embraced being the guy that’s moved up the ranks.”

Van Gelder’s basketball career started the way most kids started. He grew up on the game, and started playing in first grade. His father, who played in high school, introduced him to the game at a young age. Through his young career, he grew as a player, and when a lot of his friends quit playing, he kept going.

“Like most kids, my dad played in high school, so I was always around it. He asked me if I wanted to play, and I said sure. He signed me up, and I joined a team from Oakdale, where I went to school, and my friends were playing on that YMCA team. I enjoyed playing. It was a learning curve. It’s a tough game to figure out,” Van Gelder said.

Westside’s system is full of talented players, and a deep roster, making it hard for players who haven’t played varsity to prove their status on the team.

“You have to put a lot of work in to get that little bit of reward. People say hard work brings good things, but they don’t tell you what you actually have to do,” Van Gelder said.

Going into his senior year, Van Gelder questioned his future as a Warrior. He knew his status as an end of bench guy, but to him, it’s much more than a game. 

“I had questioned it this year. I knew it was going to be a lot. If I wasn’t a part of it, I’d be kicking myself the rest of my life. I had to go for it,” Van Gelder said.

Van Gelder’s role has been known throughout the season, and he has been a fan favorite when he’s on the floor. 

“It’s an awesome experience. Everyone started to figure out what my story was, and had become. They’ve all embraced it, and now have respect for it. It’s really cool to feel it.”

In a blowout win against Omaha South, Van Gelder came in to close out the game, and with minutes left in the 4th quarter, Van Gelder hit a highlight 3-pointer.

“That was unbelievable. I’ve been dreaming about it for a while, being an underdog and end of bench guy. It felt good to have that go through,” Van Gelder said.

The energy was electric at Westside. With the crowd’s explosion, you would have thought that westside hit a game-winner. This shows what Warrior Basketball means to John Van Gelder. As a player who has battled through the ranks, it shows how much this game can impact someone’s life.

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About the Contributors
Ben Kaufman
Ben Kaufman, Sports J Writer
Hi, my name is Ben Kaufman! I'm a writer for Sports Journalism this year. I'm a senior and this is my third year in Sports Journalism. My favorite food is steak.
Joey Gerard
Hello, my name is Joey Gerard and I am a freshman sports photographer in sports Journalism. I like gummy bears and Smoothies.
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