Seventh-graders instructed by elite groupAmong the athletes in attendance were all three Spartan players to reach 1,000 career points and two members of the 1995 state-qualifying team.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Some of Superior High School’s most accomplished girls basketball players met at Superior Middle School Thursday morning to run a three-hour clinic for the Superior seventh-grade girls traveling team.
Among the athletes in attendance were all three Spartan players to reach 1,000 career points and two members of the 1995 state-qualifying team.
Christina Kintop, a member of the Superior School Board, organized the event. Her daughter Sophie plays for the seventh-grade team, and older daughter Natalie Kintop plays for the Spartans.
Natalie Kintop, a senior, and Jessica Lindstrom, a junior, agreed to help with the clinic first. Christina Kintop then reached out to SHS alumni, and over the course of a few days Lindsey Lindstrom, Sarah Haasis (Mattson) and Bethany Koehler Franz all signed on.
“My perspective is we have very talented people who come out of Superior, but you don’t realize it because they’re so humble,” Christina Kintop said. “These ladies are giving back to the youth and letting them know they were once in the same shoes as these young girls.”
Lindsey Lindstrom is the current all-time leading scorer at SHS with 1,312 career points. Haasis stands next in line with 1,093 points, and Jessica Lindstrom had 1,026 points as of Wednesday.
Haasis and Koehler Franz also played on the only SHS girls basketball team ever to qualify for the WIAA state tournament.
“It was amazing, a bunch of great girls; and Tom Mestelle was our coach — a wonderful, wonderful man,” Haasis said. “Nobody ever expected that a Superior girls basketball team could (make it to state).”
Haasis was a junior when the Spartan girls advanced to state in 1995. She played basketball at Cathedral School through ninth grade and then joined the Spartans in her sophomore year. In her three years playing for the Spartans Haasis scored 1,093 career points to become the first girls basketball player from SHS to surpass the 1,000-point milestone.
Koehler Franz moved to Superior with her family in the 1994-95 season and made the varsity cut as a freshman. She was the youngest player on the team, but Koehler Franz said teammates like Haasis and Greta Nelson went out of their way to make her feel welcome.
“It was such a great combination of strong leaders that were older and then players who played the bench, key players who were all about the team,” Koehler Franz said. “It didn’t really matter who scored. It was just a really neat group of girls.”
At SMS Thursday, the two former Spartans were hoping to teach the seventh-grade girls lessons they could use on and off the court.
“All the research shows that if girls are participating in sports they have higher self-esteem,” Koehler Franz said. “It’s just really good for girls, and I hope they can see the legacy of basketball in Superior and also that you can do all of these great things afterwards.”
Eight of the nine girls on the seventh-grade traveling team attended Thursday’s practice. Each girl had a chance to work closely with one of the guest athletes.
Sophie Kintop, 13, and Kaylea Holt, 12 worked with Natalie Kintop; Kallie Kimmes, 12, worked with Jessica Lindstrom; 13-year-olds Kayleigh Schuster, Hannah Saari and Alexis Jensen and worked with Haasis; Madison Massoglia, 12, worked with Koehler Franz; and Gabbie Wallace, 13, worked with Lindsey Lindstrom.
Kayleigh, whose older sister Tailor Schuster plays for the SHS junior varsity team, said she’d remember the lessons about boxing out best.
As part of the drill, the seventh-graders had to try to get to rebounds before the alumni.
“Sarah (Haasis) almost killed Kayleigh,” said Hannah, laughing.
The girls said Haasis helped them work on their shooting form and told them they couldn’t shy away from being physical in the post.
“When I box out I kind of feel bad if (an opponent) falls, but I need to get over it,” Madison said.
She added that it was a chore to get up early for the clinic during Christmas break, but the experience was well worth it.
For Sophie, the clinic gave her a chance to match up against her older sister. Sophie said she had no trouble keeping up with Natalie Kintop during defensive drills, despite her sister’s reputation as a hard-nosed and defender.
Kaylea also worked with the speedy senior and said it was a treat to learn from the older players.
She and the other seventh-graders had a chance to see the current Spartans in action when they played Duluth Denfeld on Dec. 18. Jessica Lindstrom scored her 1,000th career point during the game, and Kaylea said it was a moment she won’t forget.
“It was really cool how everybody supported her and passed her the ball so she could score,” Kaylea said.
That notion of teamwork is one of the most important lessons Haasis hoped the seventh-graders would take away from Thursday’s clinic.
If the girls want to reach the state tournament, Haasis said, teamwork is the key.
“They have to play together. If everybody does their job, if everybody does what they’re supposed to do, they’ll make it,” Haasis said. “That’s what our team did. If you looked at us on paper maybe we weren’t necessarily the powerhouse, but we won because we believed in each other and everybody knew their role.”
NOTES: Both Haasis and Koehler Franz played college basketball — Haasis for the University of Minnesota Duluth and Koehler Franz for the University of South Dakota. Koehler Franz transferred to Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.) following her freshman year and finished off her last three seasons of basketball there. … While at Carleton, Koehler Franz set the record for most 3-pointers made in one game in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). She made eight 3-pointers on Feb. 16, 2002 against St. Olaf College. The record stood for eight years, until Shannon Rene of Augsburg College made nine 3-pointers in a game against Carleton College in 2010. … Franz now teaches U.S. and world history at the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn. Haasis teaches high school English at Moose Lake High School, where she has taught for the past 12 years. … Lindsey Lindstrom, who graduated from SHS in 2007, is currently pursuing her master’s degree. … Bethany Koehler Franz scored 998 career points while at SHS.