Jeremy VanKlompenburg just spent most of the past seven months in Norway.
The former SMSU basketball standout played 24 games over that span for the Osker Aliens, a team in the BLNO (Basketball League Norway).
Most people wouldn’t consider that fun. But when you want to keep playing basketball like the Canby native does, you’ll do just about anything.
“You’re pretty much on your own in the middle of nowhere,” VanKlompenburg said earlier this week. “It’s a lot different not having your family or your friends close.”
VanKlompenburg averaged 10.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a game during his last season at SMSU where he helped lead the Mustangs to a 20-10 record.
After last year ended, VanKlompenburg’s choices to keep playing basketball were limited. That’s when the Osker opportunity came up.
“I think most of my family thought it was a neat opportunity to go over there,” VanKlompenburg said. “For the most part, I think they’re glad I did it. I know my mom was disappointed, though.”
The Aliens had a very disoriented schedule. That’s obvious when you play 24 games in seven months. That allowed a lot of down time for VanKlompenburg. The good thing was most Norwegians he encountered spoke English. He roomed with former Kansas University player Brett Olson. The two were the lone Americans on the Aliens’ roster.
“We were roommates and we definitely bonded,” VanKlompenburg admitted. “We both had gone on Athletes in Action tours. It was great to have him around.”
VanKlompenburg left for Norway on Sept. 2 and didn’t come back until he had a two-week break over Christmas. The team’s first game wasn’t until Oct. 7 and their second one was on Oct. 25.
“It was the worst set-up schedule they could’ve had,” he said. “There were a few weeks there where we didn’t even have any games. I was so used to playing at least two games a week having played at Southwest.”
VanKlompenburg made a respectable $1,500 a month during his time in Osker, which is about 50 miles from Oslo. He didn’t have to pay rent and the only thing he really had to buy was food.
VanKlompenburg said he averaged about eight points and five rebounds a game for Osker, which had 12 players on its roster. The team ended up winning the league championship.
“It was a little different getting used to the international rules,” he said. “But once you do, it’s just like playing over here. We had a good team that was easy to play for.”
VanKlompenburg doesn’t know if he’ll be invited back next year. He’s keeping his eyes open on different opportunities.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to find anything other than this,” he said. “My ultimate goal would be to find something over here. But the thing about going overseas is you have to worry about a lot of these places not being financially stable. You have to deal with not getting paid all the time in a lot of places. I was lucky this year.
“The situation with Osker is still up in the air. They’ll contact me within a month to see where I stand.”
VanKlompenburg kept up on his old college team throughout the winter on Web sites. SMSU Sports Information Director Kelly Loft wondered to VanKlompenburg in a conversation recently where all the hits in Norway came from. Those 600 or so hits throughout the winter on SMSU’s site belonged to VanKlompenburg.
“Kelly said, ‘we wondered why anyone in Norway would keep up with Southwest. Then, we figured out it was you.’ I tried to keep up with them all the time,” VanKlompenburg said.
VanKlompenburg has two classes left to finish his degree. After he finishes that this summer, he’s looking for another opportunity to keep playing the sport he loves. But that opportunity could be anywhere.
“This was a great experience for me this year,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect at all. It really turned out great. I’m definitely going to try and pursue it again. I want to keep playing as long as I can.”