By Christina Alvarez
Like many other new students, Blaysen Varnadoe sometimes gets lost on campus, unable to find her classroom while she gets used to life in college. The 19-year-old enjoys hanging out at the beach, working out at the gym and filling orders at Nam Vietnamese Restaurant, where she works. But the 6-foot-1-inch kinesiology major isn’t your average student. In fact, Santa Ana College hasn’t had a student like her since 2002.
The Orange Empire Conference named Varnadoe its MVP, the first Don to win the award in 14 years.
“I have to say that I am extremely blessed to have received this award and it makes me feel like my hard work is paying off,” she began. “Being a freshman and receiving this award only makes me that much more excited for what is in store next year, not only for me but for my team.”
Varandoe finished the season averaging 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, and was named First Team All-OEC. She scored a season high of 34 points in back-to-back games in early January.
In a span of 15 games from Dec. 20 through Feb. 19, Varnadoe averaged about 13 rebounds per game with a season high of 19 at Cypress College on Jan. 22.
Her teammates are quick to acknowledge the recognition.
“Blaysen’s MVP honor is well-deserved. She put in the work and was awarded for doing so,” said teammate Taylor Ivicevic, who was named Second Team All-OEC.
Her teammates and coaches admire Vernadoe’s work ethic and high energy.
She worked hard and contributed as much as she could to help benefit the team, but it was the love she had for the players and making them proud that motivated her the most.
“Everybody sees her playing on the court. They look at the scoring, passing and all that,” Assistant Coach Tom Trokey said. “She’s really a good teammate off the court as well. Blaysen’s personality is a big part of this team.”
The basketball star was born in South Carolina. At 5-years-old, she moved to California and discovered her love for sports, playing everything from soccer to softball. She was a three-sport athlete at Foothill High School, but basketball stuck with her the most.
“I always had a close connection with basketball and it was without a doubt my favorite of all the sports,” Varnadoe said.
“At first I found it extremely challenging because I was new at it, but I learned to love practicing and getting better every day.”