APPLETON – Danny Vanden Boom has no idea what the future holds for the quarterback position at the University of Wisconsin, but he’s going to do everything he can to make sure he is part of the conversation.
The former Kimberly High School standout got brief playing time for the Badgers in three games last fall and threw his first touchdown pass as a collegian, and when spring practice starts in March the 6-foot-5 signal caller is hoping to take the next step.
“Being able to play a little bit, that was fun,” Vanden Boom said while attending the Red Smith Sports Award Banquet last week. “The biggest thing, I think, for me was just starting to get some more reps in practice, especially as Alex (Hornibrook) missed a little time. I became the two for a while. So I picked up some valuable reps there. It’s a matter of continuing to get in the film and battling the reps that I do get and just controlling what I can control and letting the rest take care of itself.”
One of the biggest questions for head coach Paul Chryst to answer this spring and heading into fall camp is at quarterback. As Hornibrook dealt with concussion issues last season, Vanden Boom and Jack Coan received more playing time in practice and games. The Badgers also welcome Graham Mertz, one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation who signed early, is already enrolled in Madison and many think could win the starting job as a true freshman.
“I feel like there’s a lot to be learned in the next couple of months,” Vanden Boom said. “It’s cool that he will be here for the spring. It will be good to see him and meet him. I guess just get after it with him and start working. I think this spring will be big for us to learn kind of where we’re all at. We’ll all get some reps and figure out what’s going on really.”
Vanden Boom, who completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Taj Mustapha against New Mexico in his only attempt of the season, said he’s gained close to 20 pounds since arriving at Wisconsin and weighs around 215. He added that he would like to play around 225 pounds.
The Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year his senior season at Kimberly who quarterbacked the Papermakers to back-to-back state titles in 2015 and 2016, Vanden Boom says Mertz’s highly-anticipated arrival at Wisconsin doesn’t alter his approach.
“You always bring guys in to replace you. You want the best recruits coming in, because it challenges you and brings the best out of you,” he said. “It’s that competition aspect that brings the best out of the team and what’s real important is that we put a good quarterback on the field every Saturday, somebody who’s ready to play and puts us in a good position, and I think he’ll help us to do that.”
Menasha High School honored
Menasha High School was recently named a Safe Sports School by the National Athletic Trainers Association.
“We’re the only school in the Fox Valley that has this recognition of a Safe Sports School, so I think that is really neat and something to be proud of,” said Anna Linstedt, a licensed athletic trainer with ThedaCare at Menasha High School. “We’ve taken steps to make sure our athletes are safe. We’ve also taken time to develop specific plans with school leadership, which is important for improving safety for all.”
Linstedt has been with Menasha High School for 11 years. She is part of a program involving Licensed Athletic Trainers. ThedaCare provides LAT services at more than a dozen schools in Northeast and Central Wisconsin.
Boots on watch list
UW-Oshkosh senior guard Ben Boots is among 100 players on the watch list for the 2019 Bevo Francis Award, which recognizes the player who has had the best overall season within small college basketball.
Boots, a Kimberly graduate, is the lone player from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to collect recognition from the organization the past two years.
A total of 25 players from NCAA Division III were selected to the watch list this year, which also includes players from NCAA Division II, the NAIA, the USCAA and the NCCAA. UW-Stevens Point’s Nate Dodge also made this year’s list.
Red Smith Scholarships awarded: Six high school students were honored at the 54th annual Red Smith Sports Award Banquet last week in Appleton.
Jed Leisner of Appleton East High School, Sydney Squier of Appleton North and Lauren Vande Walle of Appleton West received a scholarship funded by SECURA Insurance. Jakob Ulman of Fox Valley Lutheran and Emma Vosters of Xavier received scholarships funded by J.J. Keller Foundation, and Tobias Kern of Appleton West received the Danny Ornstein Memorial Scholarship.
Dechant nominated: Kimberly senior basketball standout Shea Dechant was one of more than 800 male and female high school seniors nominated to play in the 2019 McDonald’s All-American Game. Four other girls players from Wisconsin were nominated – Tori DePerry of Shawano, Sydnee Roby of Milwaukee King, Schemera Williams of Milwaukee Academy of Science and McKenna Warnock of Monona Grove.
Levy paces Panthers: Former Appleton North basketball standout Sydney Levy scored a collegiate career-high 23 points in UW-Milwaukee’s 62-44 win over Detroit Mercy on Sunday. Levy, a freshman, shot 8-for-13 from the floor and made a career-best seven 3-pointers in 21 minutes. The seven 3-pointers in a game was the third-most in UWM program history.