Michael Vandahl will transfer to Western State this season, where he’ll sit out a year before wrapping up his senior season with the Mountaineers.

Photo by John F. Russell

Michael Vandahl will transfer to Western State this season, where he’ll sit out a year before wrapping up his senior season with the Mountaineers.

Former Steamboat basketball star to rejoin coach at Western State

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— Kelly Meek and Michael Vandahl had done it twice.

The former Steamboat Springs High School basketball coach and 2008 Steamboat Springs High School graduate were on opposite sides of the court on two occasions when Vandahl, a guard at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, faced Western State College, for which Meek is an assistant coach.

A third time just didn’t seem right.

The two have shared a unique and special bond since Meek started putting Vandahl through early morning workouts as a Sailor freshman.

Four years of sweat, endless on-court sessions and like minds have a way of doing that.

And when both said farewell to Steamboat following the 2008 season, and Meek had accepted a job as an assistant with his son-in-law Mike Moskowitz, it looked as if their relationship might continue.

Western State offered Vandahl a scholarship. Instead he walked on at the University of Denver. Vandahl looked to transfer after a year. Western State offered again.

Vandahl went to Kearney.

But when Vandahl again decided he wanted to transfer, there was no question where he would end up.

Vandahl will transfer to Western State this season, where he’ll sit out a year before taking to the court for his senior season.

“It is coming full circle,” Vandahl said last week. “Looking back, if I could go back in time, I probably would have signed with Western, but I’m glad for the experience I’ve had.”

Meek and Moskowitz couldn’t be happier.

Vandahl spent the last season with the Lopers playing in 26 of the team’s 27 games, and starting 17 of them. He averaged 15.9 minutes a game to go along with 3.7 points. He averaged 6.7 points a game the year before.

“When he told me he wanted to transfer, I think my smile went from ear to ear,” Meek said. “Instead of competing against him, I get to think about the ability to coach and work with him again.”

Vandahl said he isn’t worried about having to sit out a year. With an anticipated double degree in environmental studies and business administration, Vandahl said he probably needs two years to graduate.

Vandahl’s biggest asset next season will be what he can provide in practice in terms of competitiveness. More than likely he will go head-to-head in practice with returning second-team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference point guard Weylan Towns.

“I think one of the things Mike never compromises is how hard he works,” Moskowitz said. “This is a great year for him to build relationships. With the way he practices, he’s going to bring something to our program.”

Vandahl’s motivation for transferring also has to do with his future plans. Vandahl said he would like to eventually get into coaching and said he thinks Meek and Moskowitz can help him get there.

Despite missing out on Vandahl the first two times, each coach knows what he’s found the third time.

“Mike knows this. There are kids more athletic than him,” Meek said. “There are kids more athletic and faster. But I haven’t coached anybody that has Mike’s heart.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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