ASHWAUBENON Janelle VandenPlas’ playing career ended earlier than she would have liked at the WIAA state girls basketball tournament two years ago.
But in hindsight, the knee problems that cost the former Luxemburg-Casco standout a chance at playing college basketball has helped her find a career to pursue.
Currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, VandenPlas was at the Resch Center on Thursday working on the stats crew for the Division 5 semifinal games.
It’s something she does for the UWGB women’s basketball game and it has allowed her to stay close to the game she loves while taking on a heavy course schedule as a Human Biology major in addition to pursuing a coaching certificate.
“I really like learning about how the body works,” VandenPlas said. “It might sound weird, but I’m in my anatomy and physiology classes right now and I love it. I like it because it makes sense later as to why things happen.”
Looking back at her play career, that certainly is true as well.
After earning a scholarship to play for Winona State (Minn.), the 6-foot-1 center had to change her college plans at the end of her senior year because her knees weren’t going to be able to withstand the workload at the next level.
VandenPlas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee as a freshman and then sustained the same injury to her left knee as a sophomore.
By her senior season with the Spartans, the effects of those injuries left her icing her knees each day just to practice.
Despite that, the two-time Bay Conference player of the year was able to lead L-C to state in 2011, where it finished as the Division 2 runner-up to New London.
With VandenPlas leading the way, L-C’s 41-26 victory against New London on Jan. 28, 2011 still remains as the Bulldogs’ last loss for the two-time defending D2 champion.
It was also a special season, as all three Kewaunee County teams were at state, including Algoma and Kewaunee who are at this year’s tournament.
“Looking back, it was a good experience even if we didn’t win. It’s an accomplishment just to get there and experience it,” she said.