Van Dyken Enjoying Life a Long Way From Home
April 7, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. – It’s a long way from Lana Van Dyken’s hometown of Puyallup, Wash., to NC State University -- exactly 2,852.6 miles.
The Wolfpack sophomore third baseman on coach Shawn Rychcik’s softball team wanted it that way after graduating from Rogers High School.
“I wanted to see this side of the country,” she noted recently. “I wanted to see what life was like near the east coast and wanted a broader aspect of the United States.”
After 33 games this season, she owns the fourth-best batting average on the squad with a .310 clip, just behind team leaders Renada Davis (.340), Kirsty Grant (.338) and Leah Jones (.321). Van Dyken has produced 26 hits in 84 at-bats, including two doubles and 16 runs scored.
Van Dyken, a former ball girl for the Seattle Mariners, played high school softball, volleyball and basketball and was tired of the rainy seasons in Puyallup – a small suburb between Seattle and Tacoma.
She was also a member of a travel softball team – a significant piece in her recruitment at State.
“My travel ball team played all over the country and that’s how the previous (coaching) staff saw me.”
Even though Van Dyken was keen on the idea of playing on the other side of the country, convincing her parents was another matter.
“It was my first time going away from home and (NC State) being that far away, it worried them,” she reflected.
Her Dad, Paul, is sales manager for a lumber company and her mother, Katie, is a surgical technician. She has an older brother, Justin.
Following in her mom’s footsteps, Van Dyken is majoring in human biology.
Her grade point average (GPA) was a 4.0 entering the second semester, but she says it took her a whole semester in to obtain the right balance between academics and athletics.
Van Dyken played shortstop in high school and on the travel ball team. However, playing third base is where she’s most comfortable and has the most fun.
“I like fielding the (ground) balls and bunts,” Van Dyken emphasized. “Playing the hot corner position gives her special satisfaction at “reacting” to ground balls and line shots.”
Van Dyken worked off the field to improve her hitting this season.
“We’ve had to be more positive. It’s the mental aspect. You have to have short term memory (after a previous unsuccessful at-bat). And you have to focus in the field.”
“The coaching staff is absolutely amazing. They are so positive. It’s so fun to play this game.”
Winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title last season was one of Van Dyken’s favorite memories to date. Another one was last season’s home victory over North Carolina.
“I don’t know yet what I’m going to do, but I hope to explore P.A. or Dental School.”
And after getting to know the eastern side of the country, Van Dyken hopes to return to her roots.
“That’s where all of my family is, so I hope to head back to Washington or Oregon. Last summer I got back for two weeks. I won’t get back this summer as I will be here -- taking some hard classes to lighten my load (for her junior year).”
By George Cox