In addition to seven new members of the Central Lakes College Raiders Hall of Fame, there were three other distinguished guests at Saturday's men's basketball game between Fergus Falls and CLC.
University of Minnesota Gopher women's basketball players Lindsay Whalen, Lindsay Lieser and Kim Nelson were also in attendance.
The three Gopher players were in Brainerd visiting CLC men's assistant coach Chris Costello, who's a close friend.
"We've wanted to get up here for a while and check out a game," Whalen said. "Chris has come down to a lot of our games and he's a big supporter of us. He's one of our really good friends."
Whalen, a junior guard from Hutchinson, was last year's Big Ten Player of the Year and led the Gophers to the Sweet 16. She leads the Gophers in scoring, averaging 21.8 points a game.
Lieser, a senior guard from New London, holds every three-point field goal record in Minnesota history and has played a big role in the Gophers' success the last two years.
Nelson, a junior from Fridley, is a reserve guard.
The Gophers are 18-4 overall and ranked 18th in the nation due in large part to Whalen, Lieser and Nelson. The three want nothing more than to top last year's NCAA tournament success. To do that, they'll have to first get through their Big Ten schedule.
"We ran into some road games where we lost four out of five," said Whalen. "Now we finally got a couple of road wins. We'll just keep trying to get better and keep moving up. One of our goals is to win the Big Ten championship and try to go farther in the NCAA tournament."
At the end of the CLC-Fergus Falls game, the three Gophers were surrounded by autograph seekers. Whalen looked at the attention as a positive.
"It shows that people are interested, that they care and that we make an impact," said Whalen. "It's fun to see. It's good to get out, meet some people and see some faces. Minnesota is a great sports state and it always backs its athletes."
Whalen should know. After her breakout performance last year, she's been a recognizable figure all over the state and a role model for many girls' basketball players.
The pressure of being a role model can get to the best and biggest athletes. Remember Charles Barkley's stance on athletes as role models?
Whalen is the opposite. She looks at it as a positive.
"I really don't think it's any pressure," Whalen said. "It's all a part of the situation and being a college athlete at the University of Minnesota. If I can impact younger people in a positive way I'll continue to do that."
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