WALKER VAN WEY | Reporter
The Lindenwood billiards team ended the fall semester with a 10-2 record despite sophomore Brandon Vanoverbeke being benched one semester because of academic ineligibility. The semester is closing out and the gates are open for Vanoverbeke, but how much better can things get?
During the restriction from tournament participation, Vanoverbeke still played a key role in team support, attending nearly every tournament, even when other athletes on the team chose not to.
“Brandon made a point to cheer all of us on during tournaments, despite not being able to play,” said senior teammate Carly Fristoe. “He also showed up for practice as well as spent extra time in the arena. He was very supportive and allowed for our more talented players to have genuine competition during practice in preparation for some of our more challenging tournaments.”
Head coach Mark Wilson also acknowledged the competition he brings to both practice and competition play, tagging him as a top-tier player.
“When he comes back, he’ll likely be right behind Landon and Andreas,” Wilson said.
Although the team is eager to see Vanoverbeke back in tournament form, the sophomore said last semester didn’t feel much different.
“It actually didn’t feel too different since I still got to go to practices and everything,” Vanoverbeke said. “The only thing I had to sit out was matches.”
Even though Wilson labeled him a top-three player on the team, with a 10-2 record including a 10-tournament winning streak, it’s not necessarily the firepower the Lions need from Vanoverbeke but his presence itself.
“His positive and welcoming attitude during tournaments will help us tremendously,” Fristoe said. “We want our reputation to be professional and provide competition, but also always have fun. Brandon does a great job of respecting the competition and being friendly to whoever walks through the arena doors.”
Vanoverbeke himself knows the effect his play and presence will mean to the team and looks forward to the intangible impression he is likely to make.
“I definitely think there’s an impact to be made,” Vanoverbeke said. “There might be better morale, might be a better score too. I don’t think having me back will make us unstoppable obviously, but I think it’ll raise everybody’s morale walking into matches.”
With the Lions stacking next year’s schedule now, little competition is known, but whomever coach Wilson brings in, Vanoverbeke is confident he’ll adjust accordingly.
“I don’t think I’ll have a problem,” Vanoverbeke said. “I think it’ll be just fine.”