Organ Transplant Recipient
Leads Team to Victory By Richard Kagan
Brittney Kroon is quite a young woman. Kroon, a 6’ 4” senior starts at the center position for the Seattle Pacific University women’s basketball team. She has excelled at that position for nearly four years, and is currently ranked fourth all-time for career blocked shots in Division II Competition.
Kroon, 21, holds the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) record for blocked shots in a career, which changes with every game she plays. And she averages 8.2 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and has an impressive 4.7 blocks per game. She is one of the four co-captains of the Falcons, who are second in the conference with a 13-1 record.
What is all the more remarkable about Kroon’s accomplishments is that she the only the second athlete ever to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association who has had a liver transplant. Kroon was just 16 when she learned that she had auto-immune hepatitis and needed a liver transplant operation. She was playing in her native Alaska’s high school basketball championship tournament when the call came that a liver was available. She underwent a successful operation in 2002.
Coach van Beek, new head coach, admires what Kroon deals with on a day-to-day basis. Kroon takes 11 pills daily to make sure her liver is working properly. “She has to take medication that suppresses the immune system,” said van Beek. “She has to live a life different from most college kids.”
She spends a lot of time in the gym, practicing either free-throws or just shooting the ball. All the practices and the pain of getting in shape has paid off for Kroon and her teammates. The team has 107 wins and just 9 losses in the almost 4 years that Kroon and the returning seniors have played together. Kroon’s hopes that this season will have a special ending have come true. Seattle Pacific University went to the Division II Regionals where they won their first two games, including defeating rival Western Washington by 20 points. Kroon led the Falcons with 20 points and 7 rebounds in that game. The Falcons lost to Chico State (CA.) in the Regional Finals and finished the season with a 24-6 record. Kroon averaged 9 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and had 119 blocks for the season.
Kroon plans to graduate in June. Her great joy in playing basketball will always be with her as she thinks of pursuing an internship in the Department of Athletics at the University of Anchorage.#