HUTCHINSON, Minn. (KMSP) - There's already at least one community in Minnesota that has no doubt Minnesota Lynx star Lindsay Whalen will be successful in her new position as University of Minnesota women's basketball head coach.
In her hometown of Hutchinson, many residents have followed Whalen’s hardwood exploits from the high school gyms to the University of Minnesota to the Olympics and of course her championship glory with the Minnesota Lynx.
Tucked into the office of Hutchinson School Administrator Bill Carlson are several pairs of Lindsay Whalen high tops. Her marching orders to Carlson are simple: make sure the sneakers land on the feet of some children who might otherwise go without.
“All she wants to do is get them to kids who need them,” said Carlson. “She doesn’t want anyone making a big deal of it. And that’s the other thing. She’s a relationship builder, even though, seems quiet or whatever, she knows how to build relationships.”
That relationship between hometown and hero remains rock solid. A large, colorful mural of Whalen driving to the hoop greets motorists coming into downtown Hutchinson. No one will ever forget the special moment when the high school framed her 13 jersey, retiring the number of the Tiger legend.
Senior Kenzie Rensch captained the basketball team this past winter.
“She’s such a role model for every person that plays basketball and even people that don’t play basketball,” said Rensch. “It’s just cool to have someone to look up to that went here.”
With Whalen’s triumphant return to the maroon and gold, her biggest fans are predicting even more success even as a first-time coach trying to pull off a unique feat by also continuing to play professionally.
“She’s always directed traffic,” said Ralph Johnson, a Hutchinson schoolteacher. “That’s the way I look at it. She directs other players what to do. I think she got it in herself to be a pretty good coach.”
“What amazes me about her is how hard she words,” said Carlson. “She has God given ability, but I tell you what she knows how to work. So if you got a kid who wants to play at the next level, I’d be sending them to Lindsay because she knows how to do it.”