Jan. 14, 2009

By Lara Boyko
Special to NCAA.com

Of all the advice that a women’s basketball player will get from family members on how to improve their game, 6-foot-5 sophomore center Krysten Boogaard of Kansas gets the kind of advice from two of her older brothers that can get her into trouble.

“My brothers say a lot of stuff, but they didn’t play basketball, they don’t really understand,” said Boogaard, who hails from Saskatchewan, Canada. “Also, they have a different role in hockey than I have in basketball as they are more of enforcers. The kind of information they give me is about me going out there to throw elbows or push girls down. They don’t understand that you can’t do this or else you will get called for a foul.”

The advice is made with love, but considering that Boogaard’s brotherly advice comes from Derek and Aaron who play in the NHL on the Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins respectively, it could make her a an even more dangerous presence in the paint.

Boogaard’s brothers may be the hockey stars in her family, but it wasn’t that long ago when Boogaard herself was developing her skills on the ice.

“Yes, I tried almost all of the ice sports as I was a figure skater for eight years and I played hockey for two years,” said Boogaard, who cited hockey as the sport her father wanted her to pursue. “I was either six or seven and played girls’ hockey for a year and then boys’ hockey for a year, but decided it really wasn’t my thing. At the same time I was playing hockey I was also figure skating and remember being in my figure skating outfit and having to change so I could go to hockey practice. I would go from being all nice and dainty to having to go try to hit people. It was interesting.”

Yet even though Boogaard briefly flirted with the idea of pursuing a sport on ice, it was the attraction of the sport that her mom wanted her to pursue that has helped her to become third on the Kansas team in scoring (9.4 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg) last year. This year she is living up to her accomplishments of her freshman season as she continues to be third on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg) and has improved to second in rebounding (5.7 rpg).

“When I was about 7, my mom was my first coach and I remember playing with all of my friends in a recreation gym that was really small,” said Boogaard. “The gym had a stage and was dark and gloomy.

“I went on my own path with basketball through my mom and now on my way to being successful. She is really excited about me playing basketball and wants me to wear 11 since that was her number when she played. Every team I was on, she always wanted me to wear lucky number 11. I wear 14 because it’s the number I wore when I first made the Canadian Junior National Team. It’s been a lucky number for me since then and has stuck with me.”

Along with her lucky number having some longevity with her, it has also be her long term love for a chilly sport that could make her see five for fighting if she listened to advice from her brothers.

“It’s a little bit of a culture shock (in the US where hockey is not as popular as in Canada) considering that I was pretty much born in a hockey rink and grew up with hockey all the time,” said Boogaard. “I can still see a little bit of my brother’s games and my older brother Derek who plays for Minnesota is only six hours away. His closest game to us is in Saint Louis and that is only four hours away. So if I had time off, I could go see one of their games. I still stay close to hockey even though it is not that big here.”