The Tulsa Rampage is pleased to announce that two year veteran defenseman, Kris Vandenberg will advance to college. The Tinley Park native will return to his home state to play with the Illinois State University Redbirds hockey program beginning in the fall.
Vandenberg was recruited from the Chicago Huskies of the Central States League after winning both a league and a state championship with that organization. As a player with a smaller build, the jump to the Junior level is often a difficult one but Vandenberg was determined not to let that deter him from his goals. “Vandy is not a big kid, which put him at a bit of a disadvantage on the ice,” General Manager Julie Wilson said “but within moments it was clear that he wasn’t going to let that stop him. What he lacked in physical size, he made up for with absolute heart and work ethic.”
After completing his first season with the Rampage, he was determined to begin the second on an equal playing field. Once again demonstrating the work ethic that gained him rave reviews from management, Vandenberg hired a personal trainer and focused his summer break on weight training and nutrition specifically intent on building muscle. He packed on 35 pounds of muscle and returned to Tulsa ready to make an impact. “We were shocked when we saw the difference in Vandy both from appearance and in ability on the ice,” Wilson said. His hard work paid off as Vandenberg became one of the team’s solid defenseman both at regular strength and in special teams situations. “Vandy was an asset to our team in both seasons,” Wilson said “in the first season he did alright on the ice but his impact had more to do with his character and off ice contribution. In second season, his strength on the ice made a huge difference in his play and he was an absolute impact in games.”
His off ice character was evident to many as Vandenberg utilized his time away from the team both to work and to assist in numerous community service activities. While he participated in a variety of service events it was his work with younger hockey players that he enjoyed the most. Vandenberg assisted the PeeWee team each week as they made their run, gaining the championship for their level. “If I could have a roster full of Vandys every year, I couldn’t go wrong,” Wilson said “his character and integrity are outstanding, his work ethic is truly impressive, and he has more heart that you can imagine. We’re definitely going to miss him but are thrilled that he’ll get to play for Illinois State.”
Vandenberg is continuing his off season training until he begins at Illinois State. He will pursue a physical education major with the intent of teaching at the high school level in the future.