MVP For BC: CeeCee Van Pelt
At the start of the season, CeeCee Van Pelt did not even know she had a chance.
Her coach at Duchesne Academy of The Sacred Heart in Houston, Texas, Alye Inman, had to tell her she was on track.
A few months later CeeCee Van Pelt was playing in her final high school basketball game, just five points away from the program record for career points.
Nothing could possibly get in the way of that milestone — except a broken nose.
She rushed to the bathroom as her nose started bleeding and even that would never stop Van Pelt from competing. Her athletic trainer cleared her, but needed a go ahead from Van Pelt’s mother, Amanda.
With Mom's encouragement, Van Pelt went out and set the record, totaling 1,511 points for her high school career.
That’s just the type of player and person that Van Pelt — now a mainstay and the MVP of national champion Boston College women’s club basketball — is.
“She’s got a very friendly, outgoing, easy-going personality,” Van Pelt’s father, Bill, said. “But when it comes to athletics she is tenacious and very competitive.”
Van Pelt’s family has been important to her becoming the caliber player she is now and molding how she goes from fierce competitor to ever-positive teammate.
Van Pelt began playing basketball in second grade, first with her friends from school in a church league. Her father was the one to really introduce her to the sport and she took to it early.
Bill coached Van Pelt for years as her love of basketball continued to grow.
When it came to middle school, Van Pelt had to decide whether to play soccer or basketball at Duchesne and opted for basketball, her first commitment to the game she loved.
Once in high school, she began competing on the AAU circuit and in city leagues. Although advancing and getting better were always positive aspects of playing, it was a true passion that kept her involved.
“I don't really think of it as an obligation,” Van Pelt said. “It's more something that I want to do and have fun with, meet fun people and just play basketball.”
She was a versatile player for Duchesne as one of the taller players on the court at 5-foot-10, and a talented perimeter shooter. However, what she remembers most is the close-knit group she played with, including her best friend, Meta Sapien.
The Van Pelts at BC
It was almost a given that Van Pelt would head to Boston College. Her father and older sister, Eva, both attended Boston College. And after a weekend stay visiting her sister, Van Pelt knew she wanted to go.
Knowing it was the school she wanted to attend, she applied for early admission, forgoing any potential basketball opportunities elsewhere.
“My dad really liked that I was going to BC, regardless if I was playing basketball,” Van Pelt said. “He told my sister and something similar to me ‘You can go to any school you want, as long as it's in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.’”
It seems that fatherly advice made its way to Van Pelt's younger siblings as well. Billy and Delaney are pursuing athletic careers of their own for the BC Eagles as a football and soccer player, respectively.
Sports certainly runs in the family. And with that came plenty of competition. Whether it was playing HORSE on their basketball hoop or an intense game of Risk, they all helped each other get better and more competitive.
“As a family we try to work hard at whatever we’re doing,” Bill said.
Van Pelt was accepted to the school and planned to try and walk on to the D-I women’s basketball team, but once the pandemic hit, it became difficult to keep up with training her freshman year.
As a sophomore, Van Pelt became a manager for the women’s basketball team, getting the chance to learn from the coaches and other players on the team.
“My dad has always said watching other people play basketball is a great way to improve your own game,” Van Pelt said. “So I think I've used that with watching the women's team.”
But, it also introduced Van Pelt to club basketball. One of the head managers for the Eagles was also a member of the club team, and she encouraged Van Pelt to get involved.
Once she did, she was unstoppable.
Van Pelt was brought onto the team as a sophomore, and it was easy to see how much of an impact she could have. Teammate Lindsay Kinum was trying out for the team at the same time, and she said she knew that Van Pelt would make the team instantly.
“CeeCee is a leader who brings great passion to our team,” Kinum said. “She plays extremely hard, and her desire to win is contagious. Her tenacity in turn motivates others on the court to match her energy.”
Boston College ran through its competition during her first season on the team, going 21-2 before reaching the National Club Basketball Association national championship as New England Regional champions.
The school takes great pride in its club sports, sending both the men’s and women’s teams to the national tournament. Even support from the D-I women’s team followed the club squad throughout the season. And the players love to put on a show for their counterparts.
“I feel like when they're there, we're all running a little harder, like working a little smarter,” Van Pelt said.
The Eagles’ championship run was by no means easy-going with narrow wins over SUNY Cortland, SIUe and the eventual 45-44 championship win over Ohio State. But it was Van Pelt who led the way, averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists during the tournament run.
She delivered a championship-level performance, earning MVP honors for the tournament. Her father was in attendance at Mercyhurst University for the tournament. And seeing his daughter garner another accomplishment was exciting.
“She’s a very quiet, unassuming, humble person,” Bill said. “It’s kind of interesting to reflect on her success because she’s very low key, doesn’t draw attention to herself.”
What strikes a person about Van Pelt, already proven as a fierce competitor, is how she rarely stops smiling. Friends and family have seen both sides of her.
She’s someone that loves what she is involved in and getting to share those experiences with others, but never gives up a chance to compete for something.
“CeeCee brings such positive energy to every practice and embraces every opportunity she has to play,” Kinum said. “Some of us were kind of nervous for the first game, I remember CeeCee being really excited. Seeing her excitement was helpful in calming our nerves. CeeCee plays basketball for all of the right reasons — because of the joy it brings her.”
Van Pelt is the perfect match for club basketball. Most club players aren’t playing for a scholarship or a future career.
“It’s a sport where all the participants are there because they love the game and want to be there,” Bill said. “The purity of the play is exciting.”
And with two more years to play for Boston College, Van Pelt isn’t done yet. She was recently elected Vice President of the organization and already has her eyes on another title.
When asked about striking the balance between competition and positivity, she owes it to doing the things she enjoys the most.
“I’m driven,” Van Pelt said, “but I participate in things that I have fun with and I compete in things that I have fun with.”
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