Volume 91, Issue 68

Thursday, January 29, 1998



Blaauboer stuffs adversity

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
I WONDER IF I CAN HIT THIS SHOT FROM HALF COURT. Tanneke Blaauboer [15], who underwent minor heart surgery on the weekend, has been tearing up the league this season. She hopes to be back in the lineup immediately.

By Ian Ross

Gazette Staff

Hearts were broken last season when the Western women's basketball team, ranked first in the nation for most of the season, fell just short in their bid for a Canadian championship. This season, fourth-year forward Tanneke Blaauboer has taken it upon herself to not only prevent another early emotional departure from their title bid, but at the same time, literally mend her own heart.

Diagnosed last season with an irregular heart rhythm called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, Blaauboer has refused to give into the fatigue, dizziness and pain she faces when competing on the court.

"Sometimes it has taken me right out of the game. I feel it coming on and it makes it difficult to get up the court and back," Blaauboer said. "But I never really thought [my basketball career] was over."

Taking full aim at recovering from her ailment, she underwent minor heart surgery during the summer break and again over the past weekend. But despite the mid-season surgery, Blaauboer is only missing Saturday's match-up against Windsor. She returned to the lineup last night to help Western defeat Brock 80-35.

Western head coach Bob Delaney watched her closely over the previous few days of practice and was confident she was healthy enough to safely rejoin her teammates in the starting lineup. "We have confidence that the problem has now been corrected," he said.

Ironically, Blaauboer's battles with surgery have coincided with her best season at the varsity level – something she refuses to believe has any relation.

"I have a different outlook this year," she said. "I now know what I want to do on the court."

Delaney agreed that Blaauboer's perception of the game has been the difference. "At some point between the end of last year and the beginning of this year, Tanneke must have said to herself that [her focus] had to be corrected. This has really gotten her to a place that she hasn't been."

Going into last night's game she was considered one of best defensive players in Ontario, also leading the league in blocked shots [4] and steals [3.75 per game], while settling for second in defensive rebounds per game with 15 boards in only four games.

"The biggest asset that she brings to the team on defence is that she is a great communicator," teammate and team co-captain Nadia Pezzolo said, adding that Tanneke has also developed into an offensive threat this season.

With opponents attempting to shut down Western by keying in on the Mustangs' perceived guard-based offence of Angela Nobes, Sonya Doherty and Jenn Haylor, Tanneke has flourished with more responsibility on the offensive attack. Stepping up to the challenge at the post position, she has poured in nearly 10 points a game with the skilled accuracy of a 48.5 field-goal percentage – good for a top-10 ranking in the Ontario West division.

"She has been playing smart defensively and wanting the ball on the offence," Delaney said. "I hope to see her continue to play at this level through the season. She has become a valuable asset at both ends of the floor."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998