National championship-winning basketball team to be inducted into M State Hall of Fame

November 28, 2023
The 2001 Lady Spartans basketball team, NJCAA Division III national champions.
The Spartans Women's Basketball team in 2001, NJCAA Division III national champions. Pictured are, front row, left to right: Gina Schaefer, Julie Hemker, Jess Draper, Naomi Moerke and Heidi Malone. Back row: Assistant Coach Brenda Johnson, Amanda Rinke, Anita Follingstad, Amy Schoeck, Kelly Martin and Coach Ann Williams. Seated in front is team mascot Emily Johnson.

The 2000-2001 Spartan Women’s Basketball Team will be inducted into the M State Legends Hall of Fame on Saturday, Dec. 2, along with then-coaches Ann Williams (head coach) and Brenda Johnson (assistant coach). The team won the NJCAA Division III national championship in 2001.

“This team is the only Spartan women’s team to win a national championship,” says Spartan Boosters President Stuart Klovstad. “Truly, they were a once-in-a-lifetime team.”

Williams says the best thing she remembers about the 2000-2001 season is “how committed the players were to the team and what they wanted to accomplish. They fell short just a bit the year before, and they wanted to make up for it. They knew they could do it.”

The team was small but mighty. Team members included Alayna Follingstad, Amy Schoeck, Jeana Schaefer, Jessica Draper, Julie Hemker, Heidi Malone, Naomi Moerke, Kelly Martin and Amanda Rinke.

Klovstad remembers watching them in action that season, recalling, “Their edge was, they worked hard, played great defense, embraced pressure situations and played up to competition. They were well coached, not just by Ann and Brenda but also by their high schools.”

As noted by Johnson, “Coach (Williams) had a way to see a talent in her players and develop it. The team had a great work ethic and court sense. They made each other better.”

Williams also credits the support of the parents and practice players, who greatly helped the team improve.

“It was magical, and I am blessed to have been part of it,” says Johnson.

The public is invited to attend the induction ceremony at M State’s Fergus Falls campus. A women’s basketball game will begin at 1 p.m., followed by a men’s game at 3 p.m. and the ceremony immediately after the conclusion of the men’s game. The induction will take place in the gym, with a reception afterward in the Fireplace Lounge.

The event is being sponsored by the Spartan Boosters and Lake Area Docks & Lifts.