OSKALOOSA — This week’s featured baseball player is Oskaloosa senior Nik Dykstra. Dykstra is the son of Darren and Irina Dykstra.
Dysktra’s primary position on the baseball team is left field, but he also finds himself in the pitching rotation as well. Dykstra is number 18 on the team.
Dykstra was born in 2000 in Pella but has lived in Oskaloosa his whole life.
Dykstra’s baseball career started when he was eight years old when he played coach pitch, then moved his way up to the Oskaloosa traveling team, the Oskaloosa Hurricanes. His love for baseball can be traced back to the Hurricane days.
“I loved playing on the Hurricanes,” Dykstra said. “Being able to go to all the Hurricane’s tournaments out of town, staying in hotels, messing around in the pool and lobbies and playing pickup basketball was a lot of fun.”
When thinking about his favorite memory from high school baseball, it was a tough task for Dykstra. It seemed like he has enjoyed every minute of playing on the team throughout the years.
Dykstra mentioned a player he looks up to and has shaped his game around is Los Angeles first baseman and outfielder, Cody Bellinger.
“He is an amazing hitter and plays some really good outfield,” Dykstra said. “He’s a great utility player and hits bombs.”
Dykstra came into the 2019 season with some goals, which include hitting at least one home run and having an on-base percentage of .475.
Since being a senior on this year’s team, Dykstra has picked up experiences that a majority of the players have not. He wants to pass these experiences and knowledge onto the younger kids.
“I want to take the experiences that I have had over the past four years and try to guide the younger players and tell them what’s the best thing to do in certain situations,” Dykstra said. “I want to lead them in the right direction and tell them not to get down on themselves if they’re having a bad game. I’ve been there, I’ve learned it, I’ve made the mistakes they’re making and I want to make sure they don’t make those mistakes either.”
While Dysktra can handle his own weight, I still wanted to ask him whom he’d want by his side during a zombie apocalypse. His answer?
“Definitely Blake Van Veldhuizen,” Dykstra said. “He’s just the type of guy that would die for you. I feel like he knows how to kill some zombies… that’s for sure.”
Dykstra was very close friends with a lot of the seniors that graduated in 2018. While it was hard for him to decide on just one player to bring back for another season, he ended up with Tucker Nunnikhoven.
“We always had a lot of fun in the outfield and I felt like I had a good bond with him as a teammate,” Dykstra said. “We always talked and I also talked with his dad when he was yelling in the outfield for us. He’s a great teammate.”
Dykstra wanted to show some love with his current teammates as well, more specifically Will Schultz.
“Besides myself being the funniest kid on the team, I’d have to say it’s Will Schultz,” Dykstra said. “He’s a goofy kid and everything he does in just funny.”
As for Dykstra’s pregame rituals, he has created a Johnny Cash playlist, and no that’s not a typo. Dykstra said Johnny Cash helps chill him out and get focused. Dykstra said he doesn’t usually pack food for a pregame snack, but if he did he’d pack multiple packs of fruit snacks. If Dykstra does remember to pack something, he usually turns to one thing.
“Taco sunflower seeds… oh my,” Dykstra said. “Those are the best, I have to have those for the game.”
Dykstra loves playing in front of a sold-out crowd in Oskaloosa but says he also looks forward to playing at Pella Christian.
“Pella Christian has my favorite dugouts in the whole conference. They have a beautiful field which is also well kept year round,” Dykstra said. “Great atmosphere too, the stands are always packed and I like to think we’re pretty good rivals.”
Dykstra keeps himself busy nearly year round with sporting events as he played football, track and danced on the co-ed team.
Out of these three sports, Dykstra said his favorite to play is football.
“In football, you get really really close with your teammates and it feels like one big family,” Dykstra said. “It’s also fun to hit people with a bunch of your best friends. It’s especially fun when you win games, which is what we did.”
Dykstra was quick to recap his experience of winning a state title for co-ed dance.
“It was awesome. I had the best dance partner in Karson Swim,” Dykstra said. “We worked really hard for that competition. We started in September and the competition wasn’t until December. At the end of the day though it’s awesome being a state champion.”
Dykstra was also an avid swimmer when he was younger and has racked up a mountain of records, trophies, and ribbons.
“Swimming was tough, it was definitely a difficult individual sport,” Dykstra said. “It’s a lot of mind games and you battling against yourself.”
Dykstra got into the sport of swimming thanks to his dad.
“My dad asked me if I wanted to play basketball or swimming since they were in the same season,” Dykstra said. “And for some reason as a little kid, I chose swimming.”
Besides competitive sports, Dykstra likes to fish with his friends, Jackson Blyth, and Cole Henry. He also likes to play pickup basketball games, golf and play some cards, more specifically Blackjack.
When looking back at his time in Oskaloosa, Dykstra said his favorite memories occurred during the basketball seasons the past two years. He enjoyed being front row of the student section both years, screaming at the top of his lungs and drinking Monster Energy Drinks before every game.
Dykstra’s favorite subject in school was math.
“I like math because it’s easy for me,” Dykstra said. “I like how there’s only one right answer but there are a couple certain ways to get there. It’s very straight forward.”
It’s no surprise his favorite teacher is Mrs. Eveland, who helps with the math department.
“She’s an angel on Earth,” Dykstra said. “I love that lady.”
After his four years of high school, Dykstra shared the most important lesson that he learned.
“Sometimes dreams don’t come true, but it’s definitely okay for that. There’s always going to be a different way,” Dykstra said.
As for the future, Dykstra will be attending Iowa State University to double major in electrical engineering and cybersecurity engineering. Dykstra’s dream job is to own a multi-million dollar business.
“I’m excited for the football games in college, and hopefully beating the Iowa Hawkeyes,” Dykstra said. “I’m not really scared of anything… I’m more excited.”
To end the interview, Dykstra shared a quote he uses when times get tough. The quote goes, “seven times down, eight times up.”