by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Four years of age separates brothers Evan and Kenton Veldman.
Known as "The Brothers", to their Kings University Eagles men's volleyball teammates, Evan is the rookie and Kenton the veteran, in his fifth and final season at the Edmonton-based school.
"I put the bug into his ear, in that it would be cool to play for a year but he had his eyes on U Sports," said Kenton, 24, in regards to his sibling. "Eventually, he said he was on board to play at least a year or two in the ACAC and then go to U Sports."
Evan concurs: "I had a couple of offers for volleyball for U Sports," said Evan, 18. "Obviously the big factor coming here was that Kenton was here and I thought it would be cool to play together for a year. I came to visit a couple of times and I also loved the Kings community."
With home base being Terrace, British Columbia, both the Veldman's were multi-sport athletes in high school.
Surprisingly the sport of volleyball was not their sport of choice.
"Originally I came to Kings (2013-2014) on a soccer scholarship," recalls Kenton, in which he played one season, suiting up for eight Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference games. "Soccer was my best sport in high school and it was also my favourite."
A walk-on for the Kings men's volleyball team that same 2013-2014 year, Kenton would pay his rookie dues, appearing in 12 sets with 9 kills, 3 blocks and 8 digs to his credit.
Playing both sports took their toll and Kenton soon had to make a decision.
"It was tough," recalls Kenton, who is enrolled in Environmental Science. "For about three weeks I was having soccer practice from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then volleyball practice from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. plus games and having to study.
"I sort of realized that I was just too busy and I had to drop something and it would be soccer. It was a tough decision and sometimes I wish I still played but I am happy with the decision.
"I started enjoying volleyball more and we had a new coach (Phil Dixon) who made it fun."
Kenton, a 6-foot-2 left side would come into his home on the hardwood with his stats improving subsequently: 152 and 148 kills in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 respectively followed by 41 and 20 service aces along with 125 and 104 digs.
Kings qualified for ACAC postseason the last three seasons with their best finish 5th in 2014-2015.
This year with two matches remaining, Kenton has amassed 99 kills, 7 service aces, 102 digs and 14 blocks.
Following graduation he plans to "continue playing in men's leagues as my knees are dying, so there won't be much competiveness left in me. Move back to B.C. and work for the Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a conversation officer."
Evan meanwhile is undecided to what career path he may take.
Evan's favourite sport in high school was not volleyball but basketball.
No doubt influenced by their father Edgar Veldman, who played post-secondary hoops at Dordt College in Sioux Centre, Iowa.
"We played a lot of hoops in the driveway growing up," recalls Kenton.
Of playing this season with his brother, Evan said: "Best thing being brothers, is that on the court those conversations you have..one's where you would be hesitant to have with teammates...you know you will be able to have those with your brother and be able to talk it out in the end."
Asked who was the better volleyball player?
Evan responded first: "Go look at the stats!"
And we did Evan.
The 6-foot-4 Evan, in 84 sets, has a team leading 256 kills, 24 service aces, 125 digs and is second in blocks with 29.