The clock tells the anxious fans that there’s 3.9 seconds to go. Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard calls a time out. The Pirates are down 72-74 against undefeated St. John’s. Eastern Christian’s alumni Jonathan Veenstra sits eagerly at the edge of his student manager seat next to the team bench and waits for the coach’s next move. Willard decides on a down screen by their power forward to create a diversion, leaving Sandro Mamukelashvili open.
“Then Sandro passes it to Shavar [Reynolds] behind the three point line. Shavar, you’re gonna shoot it and you’re gonna make it,” Willard tells his players. The coach’s confidence pays off as the play is run to perfection and the team tackles Reynolds as the buzzer sounds.
Jonathan Veenstra, Eastern Christian 2016 Alumni, reflects on his time from walking the halls of the high school to returning as the 2020 JV Boys’ Basketball coach.
During his time here at EC, Jonathan enjoyed being able to participate in the things he loved like soccer, basketball, and baseball while being challenged intellectually in the classroom. He especially liked the personal connection with the teachers which helped personalize his learning experience.
“I often think about the way Mr. Beverly challenged students to be serious, educated, and open-minded. I think about the way Mr. Zacharias and Mrs. Genuario made learning a collaborative effort and actively talked to and listened to their students,” he says. Jon admires the way his teachers created a great foundation for his future learning.
After graduating, Jon headed to Seton Hall in the fall of 2016. He graduated in May of 2020 with a Sports Management Degree and minors in Legal Studies and Sports Media.
While attending, Jon became a student manager of the Men’s Seton Hall Basketball team. His job on the team was full of “unexciting work like wiping sweat off the floor, packing suitcases for road trips, doing laundry, and making sure jerseys didn’t have wrinkles.”
Despite this work, Jon enjoyed the amazing experience of taking private planes to games, sitting on the bench for historic games, and learning more about what goes into a basketball team.
After graduating, Jon “started working with BPA Hoops as a Basketball Scouting Intern last October and was promoted to Scout this summer.” He also works in retail. In the future, Jon hopes to resume building his network at college games “in hopes of finding a basketball scouting job with a larger platform.”
About a month ago, Mr. Barry Veenstra contacted Jon in the hopes of having him return to coach JV basketball. Having regretfully declined before due to unavailability, he was excited to accept and is ready for the great opportunity.
Jonathan is grateful for the chance to return to EC and teach the next generation what he was so passionate about: basketball. “Growing is a continual process that never ends,” he says, “but having consistency throughout some of the most formative years of life was a privilege that so many people aren’t granted.”