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Robyn Veltkamp, the senior captain on Cornerstone University's women's basketball team, recently surpassed three significant milestones in her collegiate career, scoring more than 1500 points in conjunction with over 500 assists and more than 500 rebounds, all the while playing her first-ever season without her twin sister Melissa. In the Cornerstone record book, Veltkamp currently stands fifth in career points with 1660 points and second in career assists with 518 assists. On top of her Cornerstone records, Veltkamp has tallied conference and national records. Robyn was named 3rd team WHAC All-Conference (2008-09), 2nd team WHAC All-Conference (2009-10), 1st team WHAC All-Conference (2010-11) and honorable mention NAIA All-American (2010-11) during her career at Cornerstone.
On Wednesday night, Robyn Veltkamp will play her final home game at Cornerstone (5:30 tipoff against Indiana Tech) after an outstanding career. It is a career, though, that did not finish like she originally thought it would for her and Melissa.
During the summer before the 2011-12 season, Robyn suffered a hip injury that forced her to redshirt her senior season. Watching her sister finish her collegiate career while she sat on the bench was difficult for Robyn, because playing basketball together was something Robyn and Melissa had done from an early age.
"Our house was known as the house with the two blonde girls who were always outside playing basketball," recalled Robyn, adding that always having her sister there to rebound for her and doing likewise for her sister motivated both of them. The pair also received a lot of encouragement from their father, who would come home from work and ask them both how many free throws they had made that day.
The two moved from playing together in the driveway to playing together for Hudsonville High School, and it was there that they were first noticed by Carla Fles, Cornerstone's head coach at the time.
"[Coach Fles] came to a lot of our games," said Robyn. "Sometimes she'd bring some of her players along. That really showed us that Cornerstone wanted us there."
That presence, along with the desire to stay close to home and family, made Cornerstone University an easy choice for the twins.
Their freshman year, the pair helped the Golden Eagles qualify for a trip to the national tournament, and two years later they did it again. "[Those] are two of my favorite memories from Cornerstone," said Robyn. "National tournaments and beating Davenport [University] when they were ranked number one and we were unranked."
The two seemed inseparable. When Mel, as Robyn calls her, hit her 1000th point, it was Robyn who gave her the assist. When Robyn made her 1000th point a few games later, it was Mel who returned the favor.
"I'll keep that memory for the rest of my life," said Robyn.
Then came Robyn's injury and the ensuing season on the bench. That was hard for her and Mel but when the 2012-13 campaign began, the difficulty really hit her.
"Getting ready for this season and knowing I was going to be playing without Mel was one of the most difficult things I've faced," said Robyn. "I cried on media day when they asked me about it."
Adding to the difficulty was the retirement of veteran coach Carla Fles and the addition of not only new players but a new coach as well. Robyn pushed on – realizing that God had given her another year in college basketball to help lead the young players at Cornerstone and to play for former WNBA player Katie Mattera as her new head coach.
Robyn says that she has learned a lot during her time at Cornerstone, in the classroom, on the court, and, "just in general."
"I knew my professors cared. They always asked us about our games and how the season was going," she said.
On Wednesday night Robyn will suit up for her last home game at Cornerstone University. After that, she'll prepare for graduation in May before pursuing a career connected to sports in some way. Robyn says she really wants to coach someday.
"And I want to tell [everybody] to try your hardest," she says. "Because it will pay off someday."