For as long as first-time Viking Brett Kingma can remember, he has loved the game of basketball.
Kingma is using his talents on the court to pursue a degree in finance after struggling to figure out his life path.
Back in 2010, he signed to play for the University of Oregon after many college programs battled for his commitment.
What Kingma didn’t choose was to lose his love for basketball when he got there.
He played sparingly as a true freshman at Oregon and felt the lack of progress he saw from himself on the court would make people think less of him.
“I had really high expectations [entering Oregon], and that hurt my pride as always being successful in basketball,” Kingma said. “It was kind of like, ‘Do people think I suck?'”
He grew up with siblings who all played sports, mainly basketball, and his parents were both decorated athletes.
His father was an All-American on the Seattle Pacific University basketball team, and his mother qualified four times for the Olympic marathon trials.
With that in mind, it was almost a given that Kingma would go on to do big things in whatever he pursued. Basketball is what he wanted to do, and he did it well.
“I just kind of grew up around the game,” Kingma said. “I loved basketball so much I focused on that.”
That focus led to high school dominance for Kingma, as he was named Washington’s 4A player of the year in 2011 for Jackson High School.
When playing for Oregon didn’t pan out the way he wanted, Kingma transferred to Washington State University in an attempt to gain control of his life. Unfortunately, basketball continued to make Kingma feel powerless.
“Basketball had always been so fun for me that when it became a chore and a job I kind of had to take a step back and decide what I wanted to do,” Kingma said. “By the end of my year at WSU it was just like, ‘I don’t know if I want to play basketball again.'”
Kingma then decided to go back home to Mill Creek and work. While he liked working, it made him realize that basketball and school wouldn’t always be waiting.
After dedicating so much time to basketball, and having his family be a supportive unit, Kingma felt he owed it to his family and himself to get back in the game.
“[I needed to] finish on a positive note and make sure that I didn’t have any regrets in the future,” Kingma said.
After months of being down, Kingma realized he could be happy without basketball. It was then he found his love again.
In April of 2014, Kingma signed to play basketball once again. This time he would be a Western Viking.
“He’s doing phenomenal in school, being a leader on our team. I’m blessed that he’s here,” head coach Tony Dominguez said. “I’m proud of where he’s at now but I think he’s going to continue to grow even more.”
Kingma is in his first season competing as a Viking, and those closest to him are proud of his self-reflective journey getting there.
“I know all of his experiences have done nothing but better him in the long run,” Kelli Kingma said. “I could not be prouder to be Brett Kingma’s sister.”
Kingma’s second lease on his basketball life gave way to a second lease on academics as well. At Oregon and Washington State, he remembers former NBA players stressing the importance of a degree. After stepping away from the court, that point was solidified in his mind.
“I felt like basketball had been using me, so it was like I wanted to use basketball to do what I wanted to do,” Kingma said. “I want to use basketball to get this degree.”
In addition to studying finance, he is thinking about adding a second major. Kingma also hopes to potentially get his master’s degree. Playing basketball has taught him many lessons, which in turn has helped him to maintain his level-headed perspective.
“Things are going to happen to you,” Kingma said. “You can’t let the good things bring you up too much and you can’t let the bad things bring you down. You have to keep everything in perspective and keep a balance.”