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Divine appointment

A sudden phone call set a course of success for TMC and Nanninga

Posted: December 17, 2008 8:49 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2008 4:55 a.m.

The Master's College senior forward Stacy Nanninga .

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When Stacy Nanninga leaves The Master's College, she'll be among the all-time leaders in rebounds, blocked shots and field goals made.

Those three categories represent her all-around contributions to the team, which have helped the Mustangs compile a 71-37 record during her time at the school.

More importantly, she has never let any of the success go to her head.

"She's one of the team just like anybody else," says first-year Mustangs head coach Dan Waldeck. "She doesn't carry any sense of pride or arrogance or an ‘I've arrived' mentality."

Four years ago, Nanninga almost didn't arrive at The Master's College, period.

As a prep standout at Ontario Christian High School in Chino, Nanninga started all four years and helped lead the Lady Knights to a pair of Christian League titles. She graduated as the program's all-time leading rebounder and shot-blocker and second in school history with 1,374 points.

She had several colleges in mind to further her career, and was leaning toward Biola University in La Mirada when she visited The Master's College campus.

"I didn't want to come here," Nanninga says. "I was crying on the way here, but once I met the coaches and teammates, I loved it. They wanted to get to know me as a person, not just a player."

The trip came about thanks to Nanninga's father, Peter, who took it upon himself to expand his daughter's pool of potential destinations.

"I looked on the Web site and saw that Master's had a pretty good women's basketball program," Peter says, "and more importantly, it was a solid school in terms of theological background."

Peter called then-recruiting coordinator Brian Holsinger and scheduled a workout for his daughter. Like Stacy, the coaches were skeptical about the situation - and similarly excited once she arrived.

"A lot of times when that happens, you're going to be significantly disappointed," says Waldeck, who was an assistant coach at the time. "Well, she comes up, and we were like, ‘Wow, she's exactly what we're looking for.'

"It was just like a God thing, where He just made it happen. We didn't really recruit her. We didn't go find her, she found us. But then once we saw each other, we pursued her really hard and she's been a fixture here."

Nanninga played in every game her freshman year as the Mustangs won the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament and advanced to the Final Four of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I national tournament.

Memories of that trip have inspired Nanninga during her senior season, and she believes the current Mustangs team is capable of going just as far.

"I feel like this team is different than any other team that I've been on, just because our chemistry is really good and we're really close-knit," she says. "We get along with each other really well."

Nanninga has grown fond of the Santa Clarita Valley for similar reasons.

"I love it, because we're close to L.A. and there's a lot of things to do in L.A.," she says. "It's a nice town, a very safe town. There are always things to do."

What Nanninga is doing right now is leading her team to more success. The Master's College is 7-4 and upset fifth-ranked Azusa Pacific last week.

Nanninga is averaging 15.4 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game, both of which lead the team.

A second-team all-American last season, Nanninga figures to contend for a first-team spot to finish out her career.

As long as the Mustangs keep winning, however, the individual accomplishments can wait.

"I think my leadership is just to set a good example and to work hard," Nanninga says. "I don't care if I don't get the most points every night. I just want to be able to work hard and do my best every night."

Waldeck is enjoying what Nanninga brings to the team in her final go-around with The Master's College.

"She's been so great at fulfilling the role on the court of being our go-to player," he says. "Then off the court she's our go-to person. She's able to facilitate relationships with other kids, but it's all about each other, and she's a fighter on the court."

And thanks to fascinating circumstances, she's fighting for the Mustangs.

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