By Jessica Syburg
Purdue sports information student assistant
Oct. 30, 2007
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
Former Purdue women's basketball star, Erika Valek is playing with Athletes In Action (AIA) this fall. The women's tour began Oct. 25 at Cedarville University and the team will continue to challenge colleges in the U.S and Canada through the beginning of November.
Valek's basketball talent and love for the sport was always apparent to Boilermaker fans. The gritty point guard was an asset to the Purdue team beginning her freshman year, when she started all 33 games in which she played. In fact, every game appearance of her career was a start, for a total of 131 career starts, which is still a Purdue record. As a freshman, Valek, a native of Colombia, finished ranked in the top 10 for steals, assists and three-point field goals on the Purdue freshman records list.
Valek overcame a knee injury that cut her freshman season short. She tore her ACL in the NCAA Mideast Regional semifinal vs. No. 13 Texas Tech, but was back at the start of her sophomore season in the fall of 2001. As a junior, Valek averaged 14 points per game and was chosen as 2003 first team All-Big Ten by the coaches. Following her senior year, Valek was awarded the 2004 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the best NCAA Division I basketball player 5-foot-8 or under.
After graduating in 2004, Valek played basketball overseas. She played the 2004-05 season in Kastoria, Greece, before moving to Columbia, South America, to play for her national team in the summer of 2005. She then played in Adona, Turkey for the 2005-06 season. After playing in Columbia again in summer 2006, Valek began to suffer from severe heel pain and was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. She moved back home to Zionsville, Ind., to recover.
Valek recently began training again and is pleased to be competing with AIA. Since recovering from her injuries, Valek has been hoping to find a way to use her skills on the court to share her faith with college students. Along with other former college basketball players, the tour with AIA is allowing her to do just that.
AIA is the sports ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. AIA uses the common ground found in basketball to establish a connection to both opponents and fans. The players use this platform to help people around the world with questions of faith. As of 2006, AIA has a ministry presence in 85 countries. Every summer, AIA sends teams of former college athletes in multiple sports to play overseas and spread the faith.
Valek hopes to find another opportunity to play overseas at the conclusion of the AIA fall tour.
This fall, Valek and the AIA women's basketball team will continue their tour at Boston University on Oct. 31. The remainder of the tour is as follows:
· Nov. 1 - Boston College
· Nov. 2 - Massachusetts
· Nov. 3 - Marist
· Nov. 5 - Richmond
· Nov. 6 - Old Dominion
· Nov. 7 - Virginia Tech
· Nov. 8 - Liberty