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Lasell’s Kevin Vanderhorst battles through off-court adversity to reach 1,000 career points

Lasell’s Kevin Vanderhorst battles through off-court adversity to reach 1,000 career points
Lasell senior forward Kevin Vanderhorst spots up a three pointer. (Photo: Nico Manganiello)

Nico Manganiello - BVM Sports Contributor

NEWTON, Mass. (BVM) – In October 2018, Kevin Vanderhorst was diagnosed with cancer. On Feb. 3 this year, he scored his 1,000th collegiate point against Elms College. 

“It was a great feeling [getting 1,000 points]. It is always good to accomplish something like that,” Vanderhorst said.

Vanderhorst started his collegiate career at Mount Ida College, where he scored 26 points in his first season. In his second season at Mount Ida he took on a bigger role and racked up 298 points along with 200 rebounds. 

Vanderhorst then transferred to Lasell the following year and missed the season after being diagnosed with cancer.

 “I was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, which was my first year at Lasell. Went under chemotherapy for three to four months then surgery after that,” Vanderhorst said. “The recovery time was about six-eight months, so the following summer I was able to get back on the court.” 

Lasell men’s basketball head coach Aaron Galletta was there with Kevin at urgent care when he got the unexpected news. 

“It turned into a scenario where it was, is he going to survive? Is he going to have a full life,” Galletta said. “When I found out I was just trying to do what I could to support Kevin and his family.”

For Vanderhorst he was never worried. 

“I like to look at life in a positive way and since the first day I was told I had cancer I knew I was going to win that battle,” Vanderhorst said. “Then I knew I was going to go on to the next thing. I wasn’t really worried.”

Vanderhorst’s positive attitude was something that Coach Galletta praised. 

“His positivity was inspiring to everyone around him,” Galletta said.

Vanderhorst credited the support of his teammates, coaches, and trainers as helping keep his positivity. 

“It was a crazy moment in my life. Best decision I made was to stay at Lasell and be around the team which was very good for me and my mental health. They helped me a lot,” Vanderhorst said.

The team and Coach Galletta did their best to support Vanderhorst, but Galletta admitted, “It was hard to see him go through the chemo treatments.”

Watching Vanderhorst get his 1,000th career point earlier this month brought much joy to Galletta.

“I was excited for him to be able to achieve that milestone. Anytime one of your players is able to achieve a milestone you are really happy for them,” Galletta said. “You know how they got there and the work they put into it.”

Getting 1,000 career points was a goal for Vanderhorst coming into college, but after the pandemic canceled his senior season after two games, he thought that goal was unreachable. 

Vanderhorst did not originally plan to come back for a graduate season due to the uncertainty surrounding everything with the COVID-19 pandemic. However he gave Coach Galletta a call in the early fall to tell him he wanted to play one final season.

Vanderhorst now balances the Lasell University Graduate program, a job as a property accountant and basketball. 

“Once you get into a set schedule it’s a little easier. Sometimes it is stressful but I see basketball as a way out of it,” the graduate student said. 

Despite a busy schedule, Vanderhorst has been effective for the Lasers all year. 

“He has been a consistent force for us all year, and his positive attitude has been a key component to that and our success,” Galletta said.

Lasell rebounding leader Vanderhorst fights for rebounding positioning. (Photo: Nico Manganiello)

Coming back to Lasell has also given Vanderhorst the opportunity to put his name in the Lasell record books from 1,000 career points to the single game rebounding record for the school (27 rebounds), something his coach thinks he is going to enjoy for a long time. 

“I think he is more happy about breaking the rebounding record in a single game. He’s been talking about that since he got here,” Galletta joked. 

However Vandehorst’s main goal is bigger than any individual accolade, he and the rest of the team are chasing a championship. 

“We all have the same goal [of a championship], we are all working towards the same thing,” Vanderhorst said.