Bridgetown resident Caleb Van De Griend offered full basketball scholarship to Minot State University

Melissa PedeltyManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Caleb Van De Griend in his Bridgetown Firetails uniform.
Camera IconCaleb Van De Griend in his Bridgetown Firetails uniform. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times/Melissa Pedelty

A Bridgetown basketballer with dreams of making it to the big leagues is set to jet across the globe to chase his goals after being picked up by a US college.

At just 19 years old, Caleb Van De Griend has been awarded a full basketball scholarship to Minot State University in North Dakota, where he will spend the next four years trying to crack the sport’s top level.

Van De Griend is no stranger to the US, having spent the first 11 years of his life in Los Banos, California before moving to a farm Kangaroo Gully, 5km from Bridgetown with his parents, Jocelyn and Mike, and four siblings, Ishmael, Seth, Elliana and Levi.

Not long after moving, the talented youngster’s love for the sport began with the Bridgetown Basketball Association, but this was only the beginning.

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Bridgetown Basketball Association members, 2022
Camera IconBridgetown Basketball Association members, 2022 Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times/Melissa Pedelty

His basketball career quickly grew, moving from the Bridgetown Firetails to playing in Bunbury for Tornadoes Red in the A-grade men’s division, where he was contracted at age 17. He started as a bench player but by his fourth game was already part of the starting squad.

Van De Griend, who will jet off to America next week, said that he was not originally looking for college and was actually aspiring for State or national basketball in Australia.

However, after a suggestion to contact an agent from a teammate’s father, the youngster has since spent the past month deciding which college he would like to attend.

“The coaches they talk to you, they FaceTime you, they all get very personal, they’re very nice guys, it’s just that it came down to, I picked the one that is going to improve my basketball the most,” he said.

Van De Griend said he could have chosen a college in Dordt, Iowa, where his grandparents currently live, but chose the one that would push him to his limit.

He said he would miss Bridgetown, his family and friends but said his upbringing in a country town had prepared him for his future.

“It’s regime, you’ve got to do it even if you don’t want to do it and that’s basically pretty much what college basketball is like,” he said.

“You’ve got to get up, do your practising, do your weightlifting if you wanna get better.”

“I’m excited to meet new people, be in a team, play at a high level . . . there’s always a little nerves but I know that I’ve just got to do it and that will eventually go away.

“It’s for Bridgetown, for my family. I wanna do this for them.”

Van De Griend said he was prepared to pull out all the stops to make it.

“I also just wanna work hard and do the right thing and I think that’s what, that’s kinda what makes me stand out sometimes, coaches see that.”

“I’ll do what I need to do, I will listen and I will put in the hard work, they don’t need to make me do that, I will do that, that means they don’t need to teach me how to work hard, they just need to teach me what I need to do.”

Bridgetown Basketball Committee member and coach Cameron Barker said his former player was the embodiment of the club’s principles to “enjoy, respect and grow.”

Caleb Van De Griend in his Bridgetown Firetails uniform.
Camera IconCaleb Van De Griend in his Bridgetown Firetails uniform. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times/Melissa Pedelty

“This is inspiration for the young players to dream big and work hard,” Barker said.

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