Five moments that led to Lindsay Whalen’s Hall of Fame career


Lindsay Whalen spent Tuesday in her workplace on the College of Minnesota, surrounded by medals, championship rings and mementos.

She was a day away from flying East to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. An indication on her desk learn: “It is a good day to have a superb day,” and Whalen was in excessive spirits, wanting ahead to spending the week with family and friends, and to being launched on the Hall of Fame by legends Daybreak Staley and Charles Barkley on Saturday.

Her profession highlights are memorable and indelible however had been hardly preordained. Requested to supply 5 moments that formed her profession, Whalen relived 5 pivotal conversations and epiphanies.

Childhood

Whalen’s old flame as a toddler in Hutchinson was hockey.

“There was no ladies varsity hockey and my Mother was anxious about checking, regardless that I might have in all probability held my very own.

“I used to be a sports activities fanatic, and I needed to play one thing, so I attempted basketball. First recreation I ever performed, in center faculty, I scored eight factors, and made a shot from behind the backboard. This was in Litchfield, Minnesota, and I bear in mind listening to the gang gasp, and pondering, ‘Oh, I like that. I may be onto one thing right here. That is good.’ That was my first basketball reminiscence, feeling like there weren’t many individuals within the gymnasium who might do what I simply did.”

Hutchinson Excessive

Legendary Hutchinson soccer coach Andy Rostberg additionally coached ladies basketball.

“Andy would open the gym all summer, Monday through Thursday, 8 to noon. We’d just show up and pick teams, boys and girls playing together, and play the whole time. I’d hop on my bike, stop on my way at Super America for a bear claw, if I had the Cash. Having that entry was large for me.

“Andy was there on a regular basis. He gave up his summers so we might have a spot to play. So after I bought to Minnesota and we did not have summer time observe, we would do what we did with Andy and go discover a rec heart and play all day.”

College of Minnesota

Gopher ladies’s basketball had received one NCAA event recreation earlier than Whalen arrived. She would win seven, main the Gophers to their solely Closing 4 look in 2004.

Her freshman season, she performed for Cheryl Littlejohn, who was dismissed after going 29-81 at Minnesota. Her sophomore season, she performed for Brenda Frese (then Oldfield), earlier than Frese left for Maryland and Pam Borton changed her.

“My sophomore year, we were pretty good. That was Brenda’s one year here. We come back from the holiday break in January and the floor of the Pavilion is flooded. The promotional department starts saying that we’re going to “Experience The Wave” to Williams Area.

“The Pav is a lovely facility, however Williams Area is Williams Area. And we by no means went again to the Pavilion.

“My sophomore yr, we had been drawing 2,000 folks to the Pavilion. As a freshman, it was 500. We have now Hometown Day at Williams, and youngsters from Hutchinson are coming in busloads from the rec heart. We have now 11,000 for a recreation. And we had been like, OK, we all know we’re fairly good, however we would higher actually play now. That recreation, we shoot like 20 % within the first half, however we recover from our nerves and kick their rears within the second half. Then we’ve got Purdue on the town and we’ve got 8,000 folks and I rating 41.

“At that time, I am like, ‘We have got this. We’re actually good.’

“You recognize the saying, ‘Go away it higher than you discovered it?’ Now there is a ladies’s locker room in Williams, and a movie room. None of that was right here after I performed right here. That staff, we did that. We produced bodily modifications in this system.”

Minnesota Lynx

The Connecticut Solar selected Whalen with the fourth choose within the 2004 draft, making her the highest-drafted participant ever from the Huge Ten. She took the Solar to the WNBA finals in her first two seasons.

In 2010, the Lynx, with new coach Cheryl Reeve, traded for Whalen. They might win 4 WNBA titles collectively.

“In 2010, we were terrible,” Whalen said. “We began out like 2-11 [actually 2-9]. She had a dialog with me that I in all probability did not need to have. She sat me down after the Fourth of July break. She texted me, saying, ‘Hey, let’s meet.’ So I am going all the way down to the outdated Goal Heart places of work and it is me and Cheryl and coach Shelley [Patterson]. I used to be taking pictures 33 % from the ground, and I do not suppose I had a terrific assist-to-turnover ratio.

“Cheryl was prepared to have a dialog with me that was in all probability onerous for her on the time, saying, ‘You have to actually residence in in your health and vitamin.’ I used to be in my seventh yr within the league. I had been runner-up for MVP. I had performed in two finals, and made first staff All-WNBA. I used to be already good-slash-great. She needed to know if I needed to be great-slash-elite.

“From that time on, I misplaced 10 kilos in the course of the season, and began working further earlier than and after observe, and my taking pictures proportion went up. She made me uncomfortable, in the proper means. We missed the playoffs that yr, however from that time on, I made Staff USA and received a championship — WNBA, nationwide staff, in Europe — yearly by way of 2017.”

Staff USA

Whalen has referred to as Reeve and UConn legend Geno Auriemma the 2 greatest coaches in ladies’s basketball. When Whalen devoted herself to creating Staff USA and taking part in within the Olympics, she knew she needed to impress Auriemma, then this system’s coach.

“To get to the world championships and Olympics, I first had to make the team in 2010,” Whalen said. “So we [the Lynx] miss the playoffs, which means I can attend the entire Staff USA camp. It was in D.C. So I fly on the market and the evening earlier than observe my sister and I am going out and I’ve a few glasses of wine, which isn’t one thing I often did.

“The next day, I’m probably a little looser than I would have been in other situations, joking in the layup line, that sort of thing. I know that if I get cut, I can go play in Europe and make a lot of Cash, and have an extended trip. So I am not all that severe.

“Geno is so good. He knows exactly what to say. He asked me at practice, ‘Do you want to make this team?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ but my heart dropped. He’s like, “Effectively, that is good to say. I actually suppose you may have an opportunity to make this staff. However you need to consider you may make this staff.’ “

Impressed and chastened, Whalen determined to show herself to Auriemma. She made the staff and received two Olympic gold medals.

A youth recreation in Litchfield. An open gymnasium in Hutchinson. A flooded court docket on campus. A pre-practice assembly in Goal Heart. An on-court dialog in D.C.

Due to these moments, Whalen by no means regretted hanging up her skates.

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