Dordt University was always a potential landing spot for Ripon Christian senior Elle Van Wyngarden, but not exactly her first choice.
“It was off and on for a few years, but I never thought I would actually go there,” she said.
All it took was one visit to the Sioux Center, Iowa campus in March to change her mind. Two weeks ago, she affirmed her commitment to the Dordt women’s soccer team during a signing ceremony at Ripon Christian. She’ll study environmental engineering.
“It was really cool. I got to scrimmage with some of the team and everyone was really nice,” Van Wyngarden said. “The whole community at Dordt is really friendly and the campus is really gorgeous. The way it is set up is convenient.
“I liked how skilled everyone is on the team,” she added. “They were very friendly. I was only there for a short time but they were already trying to help me out and improve.”
The wing forward joins a Defenders team that went 5-5-2 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and 6-8-2 overall under first-year head coach Alex Durbin. Dordt is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
After applying to Dordt, Van Wyngarden reached out to Durbin and sent game film. He responded with a scholarship offer.
The Defenders are getting all-around athlete in Van Wyngarden, who also participated in cross country (three years), volleyball (two years) and tennis (two years) while at Ripon Christian. She qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championships as a freshman.
On the pitch, the Knights have benefitted from her speed and high work rate. In the 2019-20 season, she led the team with 20 goals and nine assists en route to earning a spot on the All-Southern Athletic League team. Ripon Christian won the league title that year with a 13-0-1 record and finished 17-5-2 overall.
This season as a bit different for the Knights, because of the state’s coronavirus guidelines. Ripon Christian, one of the smallest schools in the Sac-Joaquin Section, accepted an invitation to compete the bigger schools of the Valley Oak League, which has long been a powerhouse for girls soccer. The experience gave Van Wyngarden a sneak peek into the type of athletes she’ll be seeing at the next level.
“It was really challenging,” Van Wyngarden said. “We only won one or two games but we were just happy to still be working together. It prepared me because the high school level is obviously easier, especially in the Southern League where we did well. The VOL is more like the college level.”