News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

April 14, 2007

Given to Fly: Near end of her senior year, Maenpaa a big reason for ISU’s play

TERRE HAUTE — The mutual respect between Coach Jim Wiedie and his only senior women’s basketball player was what gleamed through more than any of the bright basketball plays made by the Sycamores on Sunday in Hulman Center.

Following ISU’s 86-50 trouncing of Bradley, Wiedie, Rachel Maenpaa and four-year manager Ashley Layman spoke to the crowd of 4,265 fans in Hulman Center. Maenpaa had 11 points and eight rebounds, while junior Laura Rudolphi led four players in double figures with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Maenpaa thanked Wiedie for yelling at her and pushing her to her potential. Wiedie acknowledged that he’s been pretty tough on her.

“I get on Ra and yell at her a lot,” Wiedie said. “The thing is she never loses eye contact. The kid will look you dead in the eye.”

Wiedie and Maenpaa’s relationship didn’t get off to the greatest of starts back when the ISU coach began recruiting her. Wiedie said he shared e-mails with Tom Maenpaa, Rachel’s father, and thought things were going well.

Then he went to make the first phone call to Rachel.

“She said ‘coach I’ve narrowed my list and you’re not on it,’” Wiedie recalled. And that was that. The following summer, Wiedie got a call from Tom Maenpaa asking if they could get back into the mix.

“That’s one of the best calls I’ve ever received,” Wiedie said.

Maenpaa knew she was going to play Division I basketball in the sixth grade, her father said Sunday. He remembered a note Rachel brought home from a University of Wisconsin camp from the coach at Western Illinois that read “Rachel possesses the ability, the talent and determination to play Division I ball.”

Tom Maenpaa coached his daughter from fourth grade up until her freshman year. Then Rachel became a varsity starter at Lakeside Lutheran in Watertown, Wis. She led Lutheran to a state title her sophomore year, scoring 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the state championship game.

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