Walseth to be next head coach
FARGO — Before Maren Walseth became a successful assistant coach at Penn State, she was one of the greatest high school players to ever come out of the state of Minnesota. North Dakota State is hoping that legacy of excellence carries over to its women’s basketball bench.
The Bison hired the Lady Lions assistant to take over their program on Monday afternoon and will formally introduce her on Thursday. One by one, the connections to the area started to add up on Monday.
Her sister, Annika Walseth, played one year for NDSU in 2007-08. But if she needs a vein to reach out to former Bison players, Erin (Ditty) Ahneman is a good start. They, along with former Fargo Shanley standout Angie (Welle) Edinger, played on a North Tartan AAU team with Walseth that won a national championship in 1997.
“I could not have hand-picked a better person to come in and turn this program around,” said Ahneman, who works at Sanford Health in Fargo. “I would have been so upset if they had not offered her the job. I’ve been communicating with a lot of older and younger (former) players and telling them what I know about her. I said I know she’ll be phenomenal.”
They’ve known each other since eighth grade, said Ahneman, from Hastings, Minn. Walseth grew up in Bloomington, Minn., and Ahneman said she would sometimes stay at the Walseth home during AAU season. Their families got to know each other.
That North Tartan team was loaded with the likes of twins Coco and Kelly Miller, who went to Georgia, center Carolyn Moos, who went to Stanford, and forward Kelley Siemon, who went to Notre Dame. The list went on and on.
“Talk about intimidating, I was playing with girls going to Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin,” Edinger said. “What a great experience.”
She said she considered going to Penn State. Walseth, who is a year older from Bloomington, Minn., was Edinger’s host on her recruiting trip. Asked what kind of a player Walseth was, Edinger pointed to her aggressive nature.
“She wore knee pads if that tells you the type of player she was,” said Edinger, now living in Bismarck. “Defense was one of her strongest suits so I’m assuming she’ll bring some of that tenacity when she has her own team. Fargo snagged a good one.”
Walseth was named to the inaugural Bloomington Jefferson Hall of Fame class in 2006 along with NHL players Mark Parrish and Ben Clymer and former NBA player Kevin Lynch. A 6-foot-2 forward, she helped Penn State reach the NCAA Final Four in 2000.
“She was tough,” Ahneman said. “She never shied away from contact. She was hard-nosed and smart. And so smart in school, too. The balance she’ll bring will be awesome.”