Women’s basketball spotlight: Michaela Nieuwenhuizen
Nieuwenhuizen, a Canadian native, is the first player to be featured in The Eagle’s weekly women’s basketball player profiles.
Freshman forward Michaela Nieuwenhuizen took the court for the first time in her collegiate career on Tuesday night, and the Canada native looks forward to a season of continued improvement with the Eagles. Nieuwenhuizen spent most of her late high school career in the U.S. instead of her native Strathroy, Ontario and she said the experience of being away from home during high school prepared for a college lifestyle. Despite her U.S. ties, the 6-3 post player found success representing Canada on the international stage, playing for the Canadian U16 national team that placed second at the 2014 FIBA Americas tournament. The Eagle caught up with Nieuwenhuizen late this summer as she completed off-season training alongside her new teammates.
What made you choose AU?
I always knew I wanted to play in the States. The level of play is a lot higher here than it is in Canada. American was my only official visit, and I knew immediately that it was the place for me. I liked the campus and the coaches. Plus, a guy from my school [former guard George Langberg] went to American to play basketball. Even though I never really talked to him after he left for college, it did put American in my mind as an option.
What experiences do you bring to the table as an international athlete?
I went to high school in New Jersey for my junior and senior year, so I don’t really feel like an ‘international athlete.’ When I go home to Canada, I actually go through customs since I claim American on my passport information because I only live at home three months out of the year.
Do you feel like living away from home for the past two years has prepared you for college?
I definitely feel like it prepared me for the college experience. I would only go home for two weeks at a time during school breaks, so I’m used to it.
After representing Canada on the international level, could you see differences between playing at the international level and the high school level?
There are definitely differences between the two. There’s a lot more physical play on the international level, and the pace of the game is a lot faster. The referees also call less [fewer fouls] the higher level you play at.
What aspect of your game do you hope to improve this season?
I want to work on my positioning offensively and play more outside offense since our training this past summer has shown me I’ll be at more of a 4 (forward) position instead of the 5 (center) position.