Jana Van Gytenbeek solidifies backcourt role

Senior guard Jana Van Gytenbeek has led the team in assists nine times so far this season, as well as scoring in double figures seven times. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Tyler White | Sports Writer

Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.

That’s what senior guard Jana Van Gytenbeek has done for Baylor women’s basketball, as the veteran backcourt player saw her time on the court take a massive leap.

Whether she’s hitting threes or dishing it out to open teammates on the perimeter, Van Gytenbeek has given the Bears a lethal option off the bench.

Transferring from Stanford after her sophomore year (2021-22), she said she has felt supported by the team as she has established herself at Baylor. Although she said she is grateful for her time at Stanford, she said she is even more thankful for her time at Baylor.

“My teammates and even the whole environment and whole community has just welcomed me with open arms and always supports me, and that feels really great,” Van Gytenbeek said.

Van Gytenbeek said she is proud of herself for how she has been able to stay composed as a player off the bench and continue to maintain her consistency on the court. Although she said it’s difficult to stay focused, head coach Nicki Collen has been able to keep her ready.

“It’s hard to stay locked in and still believe in yourself when you don’t feel like you’re contributing in games,” Van Gytenbeek said. “Obviously, you’re contributing in practice and lift and outside activities every single day, so to get a reward of playing and being able to play with my teammates has been really nice.”

Senior guard Sarah Andrews said she has been proud of how Van Gytenbeek has stepped into a larger role on the team. Andrews said the Greenwood Village, Colo., native has patience and has been able to develop into a great player.

“Now she’s taking on an even bigger role that she’s just blossomed into,” Andrews said. “But I think she’s the real definition of ‘when the opportunity is presented, take advantage of it and just wait your turn.’”

Sophomore forward Darianna Littlepage-Buggs said she is happy that everyone gets to see how much hard work Van Gytenbeek has been putting in throughout the season. Littlepage-Buggs said it means a lot to know that players like her and Andrews get to show off their talents.

“They work hard all the time, so just for them to be able to put it on display and help us out, it means a lot to us,” Littlepage-Buggs said.

To remain consistent and positive, Van Gytenbeek said she always puts her team at the forefront and follows its goal of making the hard look easy. She said the team puts in the work to push through the difficult times.

“My mindset when it comes to helping my team is just to always do it,” Van Gytenbeek said. “I want to be positive, and I want to be trusted by everybody — to know that I’m going to show up and be the same kind of person and do what I need to do for everybody else and always try to be unselfish.”

Moving into the chaos of March Madness, the 5-foot-6-inch guard said the team is pushing through and knows there are better things on the other side. She said her mindset is that it’s March, which means the women need to work hard to succeed down the stretch.

“Win or go home, and there’s a lot of beauty in that,” Van Gytenbeek said. “I love this time of year. I think a lot of people do. It applies pressure, but it’s what basketball season is made for.

“I think if we just continue to work hard, have good energy and execution every single day, we’re going to do great things and be pretty successful.”

Tyler White is a senior Journalism major from Yorba Linda, California, with minors in religion and philosophy. He is most looking forward to developing his writing and reporting craft in the Lariat and to work alongside other writers. As a member of the Baylor Coed Cheer team, he enjoys supporting all Baylor sports. After graduation, he plans on going to grad school and eventually working in publication for the music industry.