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Girls Basketball: Willmar hires a new girls hoop coach

Brendan Hedtke, who coached the ninth-grade boys team, takes over the Cardinals

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Willmar eighth-grader Brielle Ogdahl (3) looks to make a shot in the post against Redwood Valley's Kendall Huhnerkoch during a first-round game of the WildCard Tournament Monday, Dec. 27, 2021 at New London.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Brendan Hedtke is a huge basketball fan.
He is a blogger for canishoopus.com, which is a site for serious Minnesota Timberwolves fans. He also does a regular podcast with former Timberwolf Doug West to talk about the NBA team.
"It's a fun thing to do on the side," he said.
The 2017 Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City High School graduate also coached the Willmar ninth-grade boys basketball team this past season.
The love of hoops has made him decide to become the new head coach for Willmar's varsity girls basketball team, pending school board approval.

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Brendan Hedtke
Submitted photo

"I think it's a great step for me in my career because that's something I've always wanted to do is coach at a high level," Hedtke said.
Hedtke, 23, received his elementary education degree at Southwest Minnesota State. He's a second-grade teacher at Lakeland Elementary School in Willmar.
"It's a natural progression for me because of how much I enjoy being around the game of basketball," Hedtke said. "I think this is a logical next step for me, knowing that I can't play at a high level, but I can still show my passion for the sport by coaching."
Hedtke said he was approached by Willmar activities director Ryan Blahosky after Dustin Carlson resigned. Carlson led the program for 11 seasons, finishing with a 174-100 career record that included a second-place finish this season in Section 8AAA.
The 19-9 Cardinals were senior dominated, led by Sammy Christoffer, Jada Reiman and Ella Shinn. But there is a good foundation for the future.
Eighth-graders Brielle Ogdahl and Telilie Lange were both in the varsity rotation and there are others expected to contribute heavily next season.

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Willmar eighth-grader Telilie Lange, 2, puts up a shot in the post during a Central Lakes Conference game against Rocori on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Hedtke said that Carlson has been helpful in the transition.
"For sure, he's been great so far," Hedtke said. "He's been open to doing whatever I've needed."
Whether it's doing podcasts with a former NBA player, coaching ninth-grade boys or moving into the varsity girls' program, Hedtke isn't concerned about the level or the gender of the players.
"To me, basketball is basketball," he said. "Whether it's boys or girls, you have to get the ball to the hoop and find a way to get it in there."
He hasn't met with the players yet and is just starting to get together a summer practice and tournament schedule.
"It's all kind of happened kind of fast," he said. "I'm just getting going. It was a week ago (Thursday) when I was approached by Ryan."

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