Central Connecticut junior Kirsten Daamen will finish her finals on Monday and then turn her attention toward international competition. The Blue Devils' starting center will be spending the next two months playing with the Dutch National Team.
Daamen, who went to high school in Massachusetts, was born in the Netherlands and lived in the country for a few years as a child.
"I was born in Amersfoort and lived there until I was 6 years old," Daamen said. "My family and I moved to Massachusetts for my father's job at that time and I have been back a few times, but not since I started playing basketball."
As a junior at Central in 2011-12, Daamen became the school's all-time leader in blocked shots, while stepping into a fulltime starting role for the first time. She registered career-highs with 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Her career total of 140 blocks is already 26 more than the previous record holder. She also served as a team captain for the Blue Devils this past year.
Moving into international competition will bring new experiences and challenges on and off the court for Daamen, including a new position.
"I will be playing the four-position for the Dutch Team. At Central I have always played the five, that will most likely be the biggest difference. I will not be posting up as much and will have to be on the perimeter a lot more. I have watched a lot of film from the national team's past games, they don't run as many set plays and most of the time play with five players on the perimeter. The head coach has also said it is more of a physical game there."
Off the court, Daamen's father will help her readjust to living overseas.
"My dad will be flying with me and will help me become reacquainted with the area and language for the first week. I am sure my mom is nervous, but she thinks it is a great opportunity and that I will learn a lot from the whole experience."
Head women's basketball coach Beryl Piper spent time playing in Europe following her own career as a student-athlete at CCSU and is excited about the opportunity Daamen has earned.
"I am really excited that Kirsten has the chance to play for the Dutch National Team," Piper said. "What a great opportunity to travel to multiple countries and learn about different cultures as well as improve her basketball skills. This is something that will broaden Kirsten's college experience athletically and academically."
Both Piper and Daamen view this summer's competition as beneficial toward the player's development and the Blue Devils' success next season.
"I think that this will definitely help me going into my senior year. I will be playing competitive basketball for most of the summer and hopefully, after this summer I can play the four and five at Central. Also, the play in Europe is going to be more physical, I hope to become a little tougher and stronger."
"I hope to make the most out of this opportunity and I am ready to work hard every day. The experience I will gain from this will be what I am taking away from it, how it will prepare me for my senior year and possibly a future with basketball after graduation."
Dutch National Team Schedule
May 17-20: Practice and Games in Hungary
May: 25-27: Tournament in Italy (vs. Italy, Bulgaria and Greece)
June 1-2: Game against Puerto Rico (in Holland)
June 8-10: Games in Croatia (v Croatia, Argentina and Japan)
June 13: Game against Lithuania
June 20: Game against Slovenia
June 23: Game against Slovakia
June 27: Game against Belgium (in Holland)
June 30: Game against Lithuania (in Holland)
July 7: Game against Slovenia (in Holland)
July 11: Game against Slovakia (in Holland)
July 14: Game against Belgium (in Belgium)