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For Adeline Mulder, Illiana Christian is family

Adeline Mulder is no longer affectionately referred to as “The Transfer” at Illiana Christian.

The junior outfielder is a cohesive part of the Vikings, adding to the family dynamic. Standout senior middle infielder Maya Wondaal is Mulder’s first cousin. Coach Nicole Terpstra-Wondaal, Wondaal’s mother, is Adeline Mulder’s aunt.

Adeline Mulder, who attended West Lafayette Harrison for two years, lives with her grandmother Donna Terpstra-Verduin. Her parents remained in West Lafayette.

“We just prayed about it a lot,” Adeline Mulder said. “I’m moving an hour and a half away from my parents, so it definitely was a leap of faith. But we felt like the Lord was calling me to come here, and it’s definitely been a great fit.

“It’s just been really good. It’s been good having Maya with me because we’ve been really good friends growing up. But all of the girls have been super welcoming. They all helped me fit right in. If I’m ever unsure of anything because I’m new to drills, they just help me along. They’re just all so encouraging.”

The feeling is mutual, according to Wondaal.

“She is so fun and carefree,” Wondaal said of Mulder. “She brings such a positive energy every single time at practice. You could never tell she’s down. She’s always smiling, always cracking jokes and keeping us laughing. She gives a lot of encouragement.

“She’s a great asset. She’s great at putting the ball in play. I feel like she’s going to really help our small-ball game. She has a great IQ for the game, and that’s something that’s always going to benefit the team. And she’s very vocal, which every team needs.”

Adeline Mulder actually sees her mother, Desiree, quite often. Desiree Mulder is an assistant for the Vikings, working around her career as a speech pathologist to get to games and most practices.

“We try to come up and see her when we can,” Desiree Mulder said. “It’s been an adjustment for all of us, but hardest on her, clearly, and hard on us to let our youngest go.

“But it’s working out. We’re just grateful for the community around here. She has her aunt, and all of our family is up here. It’s nice to have that support system. It’s fun.”

Indeed, it has been a homecoming of sorts. Of the four siblings in their family, Terpstra-Wondaal said Desiree Mulder is the only one who moved out of the area for “an extended period.”

Desiree Mulder is a 1994 Illiana Christian graduate who was an all-state shortstop before playing at Elmhurst. Terpstra-Wondaal, a 1995 Illiana Christian graduate, led the softball team to the Illinois Class A state quarterfinals in 1993 and pitched DePaul to third place in the 1999 Women’s College World Series. Younger brother John Ryan was an all-state basketball and soccer player, and youngest sister Shaina was an all-state first baseman.

Terpstra-Wondaal repeatedly expressed how “grateful” she is to be surrounded by family.

“We love having Adeline here, and because she’s here, I get to coach with my sister for the first time, which is a blast,” Terpstra-Wondaal said. “Adeline seems super happy here. She looks good, she’s smiling. What more can you ask for?”

“It’s been a big change. It’s been quite an adjustment. But, selfishly, we love seeing her and her mom all the time.”

During Illiana Christian’s come-from-behind win against Wheeler to open the season on Monday, Terpstra-Wondaal was struck by the interaction between her daughter and Adeline Mulder.

“To see them walk out of the dugout together, to see them walk in from the field together, it was fun,” Terpstra-Wondaal said. “It was just a lot of fun. I’m really happy to see it.”

Desiree Mulder said Wondaal made Adeline Mulder’s transition easier and took on the task without being asked.

“Maya picked up Adeline the first couple of weeks of school and brought her here and just helped her assimilate,” Desiree Mulder said. “That cemented their friendship, even beyond their cousinship. For Adeline to feel the love of somebody to do that for her and check on her periodically to make sure she was OK at a new school, it was really fun to see.

“Maya was just a big instrument in helping that process happen and just making sure she knew how to get into the school and where her locker was and her classes, things you just don’t think about as the new kid. Being a junior, that’s tough. Friend groups are established. But the whole school community has just been really welcoming to her.”

Adeline Mulder said joining the cross country team, a sport in which she hadn’t previously competed, also was a factor.

“There’s summer practices, and I was able to meet a lot of people through that,” she said. “I loved it. I enjoyed it a lot. It was really fun. It was something new, and I stuck with it. It was so fun to try something new and see what I could do. All the girls were super nice there too.”

Desiree Mulder noted the nickname her daughter was given.

“During cross country, she was ‘The Transfer,’ ‘The Transfer,’ ‘The Transfer,’” Desiree Mulder said. “But she’s lost that title now. Now she’s just Adeline. She was like, ‘It’s kind of fun just being Adeline now.’”

Adeline Mulder played on the junior varsity softball team at Harrison during the past two seasons. Harrison was the Class 4A state runner-up in 2022 and reached the semistate semifinals last year.

She said she hopes to be a key component of similar success at Illiana Christian this season.

“This team is different from other teams I’ve been on,” Adeline Mulder said. “The passion we have, not only for the game and for winning, but just for each other. We’re just so excited for each other, and we want someone else to do as well as much as you want yourself to do well, if not more.

“This whole team, we’ve really bonded right away from the beginning. I just remember a moment from (Monday) night. After scoring, I come into the dugout, and everyone is screaming and clapping for me and patting me on the back. Everyone is just super encouraging.”

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