Miette Veldman leaves a legacy of success at LB

Five state championships, six all-state first team selections

When Lord Botetourt High School senior Miette Veldman is presented her high school diploma, wherever and whenever that may be, the Cavaliers will be losing one of their all-time best athletes.

Veldman studies a free throw in this year’s state basketball tournament.

Some might say Miette is the best ever, male or female. You can make a case for multi-sport standouts like Bobby Prince and Sara Moore, or major college recruits like Elton Toliver and Nicci Moats. However, when you combine versatility with accolades and accomplishments there is no one who holds a candle to Miette.

In four years at LB Miette has earned first team all-state honors six times, three in volleyball and three in basketball. She led her team to a state championship five times in the past three years while breaking school individual records in both volleyball and basketball. And, all the while, she’s done it with a humble, “team first,” attitude.

“Miette has meant so much to the Lord Botetourt athletic program,” said LB athletic director Chuck Pound, who was also Miette’s basketball coach for three years. “Obviously being a big part of five state championships and being named first team all-state in two sports multiple times stands out.  But the way she goes about her business makes her special.  She is very humble.  While I am sure she enjoys the accolades and records, she is very quiet, almost shy about them.”

The third of three Veldman girls, Miette was born in Glasgow, Kentucky. Her oldest sister, Elnet, is 21 and studying to be a nurse after graduating from the University of Virginia. Lara, 19, is a sophomore at UVA.

Miette’s parents, Gerhard and Linda Veldman, are originally from South Africa and that’s how Miette got her distinctive name.

“They speak Afrikaans and they wanted a name that sounded the same in both languages,” said Miette, who can also carry on a conversation in Afrikaans.

Miette hammers a spike.

The Veldmans moved to Botetourt County when Miette was in the first grade. Gerhard took a job in Virginia, and after about a year he changed jobs to work for the Yokohama Tire Company in Salem. Last year he was transferred to Charlotte, North Carolina but, luckily for Lord Botetourt High, Miette decided to finish high school in Daleville while the move transitioned. She had been the “new kid” once before at Greenfield Elementary when her family moved here.

“Coming in the middle of the year, it took a little time to adjust,” she said. “But I made some good friends and it wasn’t long before I felt right at home. One of the first friends I made was Kenleigh Gunter and she’s been a good friend all the way through school.”

Veldman played basketball, softball and soccer in the Botetourt County recreation leagues but the sport she would come to love the most, volleyball, was not offered by the county. She had to learn that from her sisters.

“I didn’t play on a(volleyball) team until middle school,” said Miette. “I loved watching my sisters play and couldn’t wait to get out there myself.”

She also gravitated to basketball, where she was a standout from a young age. The Read Mountain Middle School team was undefeated during Miette’s seventh grade season.

“Coach Favaro(LB varsity coach Renee, then an assistant to Pound) and I went to watch Jenna Alam and Brooklyn Shelton at a Read Mountain Middle School game because we had heard how great they were,” said Pound. “When the game started, both of us immediately asked each other ‘who is that girl?’ referring to Miette.  I remember making the comment ‘that’s Scottie Pippen.’  She was doing everything, and so athletic.”

“She also has a competitive ‘it’ factor that just can’t be taught,” added Favaro. “It’s something I noticed from the first time I saw her when she was in the seventh grade. It’s a mixture of that leadership, raw athleticism and ability to read the defense. When the game is on the line, she rises to the challenge. Coach Pound and I have always said, the bigger the game, the bigger Miette seems to play.”

Veldman celebrates a point with teammates.

The Read Mountain volleyball team lost just once during Miette’s seventh grade season, and when she moved on to eighth grade it was decided she should play on the jayvee team. By the time she hit high school she was ready to jump right into the varsity lineup in both sports.

Her first taste of high school varsity competition was with the 2016 LB volleyball team. The Cavaliers finished 21-5 but Hidden Valley was a nemesis for the Cavs. The Titans eliminated Botetourt, with both Lara and Miette on the team, in the region tournament.

Miette was Blue Ridge District co-Player of the Year as a freshman and both Miette and Lara were first team selections. Miette was named second team all-state that year but Hidden Valley left a bad taste in her mouth.

“Volleyball was all we talked about at home,” said Miette. “Any time we played Hidden Valley it was a big game. The following year we felt like we had a chance to win a state championship and that was the goal we set.”

The following season, Lara’s senior year, the Cavaliers won the state in dominating fashion. Lord Botetourt went undefeated, beating Warren County in the championship match, 25-14, 25-12 and 25-17. It was the first of five state championships Miette would be a part of, but it will always be special.

“That one was special because Lara and I played together,” she said. “The first two years, playing with her, were especially fun.”

Miette was named state Class 3 Player of the Year as just a sophomore, the first of three straight Player of the Year Awards she would win. The 2017 season began a run of unmatched excellence in the history of LB sports as the Cavaliers compiled a three year record of 94-1. In Miette’s senior year the Cavaliers didn’t even lose a set, playing 31 matches and winning all 188 sets.

Miette has been such an important part of the volleyball program for the past four years,” said LB coach Julie Conner. “She is an exceptional volleyball player and athlete. She was an outstanding leader on the court and raised the level of play of all those around her.”

For her volleyball career at LB Miette set a school record with 1,729 kills. She finished with 180 blocks, 1,096 digs, 72 assists and a serving percentage of 93 percent with 171 aces.

Miette Veldman(center) answers questions from the press following the 2019 state volleyball championship along with coach Julie Conner(left) and fellow senior Jordyn Kepler.

“The thing I enjoyed the most about coaching Miette is how she played with such a passion and love for the game,” said Conner. “She is a competitor that stayed level headed and positive no matter the situation. She truly loves the game and her teammates. 

“I have a lot of memories of Miette, but one that sticks out is our state semifinal match against Hidden Valley her junior year. I was so confident as she took the floor in the fifth and deciding set just by the look on her face. She took control and completely dominated the set and it was one of her many top performances.”

Her basketball accomplishments aren’t far behind, even though she almost didn’t play her sophomore year.

“I knew my junior year of volleyball would be a big recruiting year so I considered not playing basketball,” she said. “But I loved my teammates and didn’t want to miss it, so I decided to play.”

It was a good decision as LB won the state basketball championship that year with a 24-6 record. Veldman, who was Blue Ridge District Player of the Year, had 12 points and 13 rebounds in the 53-45 win over Hopewell in the championship game, arriving in Richmond from a travel volleyball tournament to play in the game. Miette was named first team All-State for the first of three selections.

The Cavaliers followed with a 27-2 record in Veldman’s junior year, losing to Spotswood in the state semifinal. This year they were 25-3 and preparing to play Spotswood for the championship when the coronavirus cancelled the final. LB and Spotswood were declared co-champs, giving Miette her fifth state championship ring in three years.

Miette is recognized on “Senior Night” with sister Lara and parents Linda and Gerhard. (Photos: Brian Hoffman)

Veldman’s basketball stats may be even better than her volleyball ones. She scored a school record 1,834 points with 271 assists, which is fourth on the all-time LB list behind three point guards. She set single season records for points with 633 and rebounds with 378, including 21 double-doubles her senior year with five of those being games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. In addition to her three first team All-State awards she was the region Player of the Year twice, and this season she was a nominee for the prestigious McDonald’s All-American team.

“Historically and statistically, Miette will go down as the greatest player to ever wear a Lady Cavs jersey,” said Favaro. “To finish at the top in scoring and rebounding is such a feat. To finish top four in assists shows all you need to know about her.

“She is extremely humble and unselfish,” Renee continued. “She’s a natural leader who lifts up her teammates and wants them to succeed and it shows. Her ability to make people around her believe in themselves is what makes her who she is. She gets so excited for others and consistently brings positivity to every situation. She is one of the happiest, go-lucky type kids. I think that shows on the floor in how much fun she has out there.”

Also a good student, Miette chose to continue her education at James Madison University and play volleyball for the Dukes. Volleyball was always her first choice, and JMU offered everything she was looking for.

“I really like the coaches,” said Miette. “They’re so down to earth, and they really care about the players. They even came to see me play basketball.

“When I visited I met the players and I knew they were people I could get along with. Plus, they have their own facility and it’s a cool atmosphere, and it’s also a good balance of athletics and academics. I want to major in business and they have a new business school opening this year.”

Miette is always quick to point out how much her coaches and teammates have meant to her. She played on travel volleyball teams with Gunter, Ryanna Clark, Taylor Robertson and Jordyn Kepler.

“I’ll always remember hugging and crying with Ryanna after this year’s championship,” said Veldman. “It was somewhat bittersweet because we knew it was over.”

Ending the basketball season was difficult as well. When the Cavaliers heard the news that the championship game would be cancelled they held one final practice, and there were more tears. It was a tough way to end a truly outstanding high school career.

“It was sad that we didn’t get to play in the championship game, but there was a good reason,” she said. “This has been a tough time for a lot of people.”

Veldman leaves a legacy of winning at LB that may not be matched for a long time.

“I will remember her as the greatest, most humble athlete that I ever had the pleasure to coach,” said Pound. “She is a once in a lifetime player.”

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