WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - Valley Senior Grace Vander Weide is one of the best players in the entire state. The Tiger Shooting Guard can do it all, averaging 19 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists per game this year.
Off the court Grace has a story not many high school Seniors can match. Through her Kingdom Hoops AAU team (led by former Cyclone Jake Sullivan) Grace has already been on 4 mission trips to Africa. The mission trips are designed to help under privileged children in Ghana, Africa.
“It’s where my heart is. I’m playing basketball so that I can use this as a platform for what I want to do later in life,” says Vander Weide.
But her connection to Ghana stretches further than just mission trips. Her parents Doug and Dawn Vander Weide are also heavily involved in mission trips to Ghana and in 2012 they made their most important trip ever. When they returned, they had 3 new family members through adoption, Godwin (6), Angela (7), and Job (12).
“They’re something else, I couldn’t imagine my life without them. It’s cool what’s been built through the adoption process, they’re really like my biological siblings,” says Grace.
The Vander Weide’s are now a family of 8, and they love every minute of it.
“We tell people it’s the hardest thing we’ve done, clearly, but it’s also the best thing we’ve done, “ says Doug.
Grace, who also has an older sister Emma and younger brother JD, will continue her basketball career next year at Missouri State.