Ohlde, Koehn To Continue Play Overseas

Laurie Koehn is still the NCAA's all-time leader in 3-point field goals.

June 29, 2011

By Mark Janssen

Careers in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) may be over for Nicole Ohlde and Laurie Koehn, but that doesn’t mean the two K-State basketball icons are finished playing.
While serving as celebrity camp coaches at the Deb Patterson Basketball Camp earlier this month, Ohlde said she intends to play in Italy when the European season opens in September, while Koehn said her plans are to return to Poland.
“I still have the capability to play and I still love playing,” said Koehn, who last year averaged 19 points for her Utex Row team in Poland.  “I plan to play until I can’t.  I still love playing.”
Ohlde retired at the end of the 2010-11 season in Tulsa ending a seven-year WNBA career.
“The European season doesn’t beat you up as much,” said Ohlde, whose WNBA resume includes a championship won with the Phoenix in 2009.  “There’s not as much travel, you only play one or maybe two games a week, and there aren’t as many big people who are banging on you every single night.”
A hamstring and broken foot slowed Ohlde in each of the last two seasons when her scoring average slipped from 11 points per game early in her career to six per game the last two seasons.
“Anytime you have an injury it is a low point in your career,” said Ohlde, who was the sixth overall WNBA draft pick out of K-State in 2004.  “As an athlete, you want to be able to be at your best and help your team win so when you are not able to do that you can feel helpless.”
Pausing, the 29-year-old Ohlde said, “Isn’t it crazy that it’s been seven years since K-State?  It’s been a dream playing professionally, and especially with that (championship) ring.”
But Ohlde quickly adds, the WNBA title does not trump the Big 12 titles and the 92 total games won while with K-State from 2001-04, which followed a stellar prep career at Clay Center High School.
“Nothing will take away from my K-State career.  It was just a wonderful experience,” said Ohlde, who ended her collegiate days with 2,241 points and 995 rebounds to rank second only to teammate Kendra Wecker in Wildcat history.  “I still love playing and playing professionally, but it has just been a different kind of thrill.”
Of playing in Italy last year, Ohlde said, “I loved it.  I like the country, the people are nice, and obviously the food is great.”
The money is also better than the WNBA where salaries max out at $100,000, while in Europe $60,000 is toward the minimum end.
Koehn left K-State as the Wildcats’ No. 4 all-time scorer, plus not only as the school record holder for 3-pointers, but also with an NCAA record of 392 long-range shots.
Koehn played initially as a free agent with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, plus had a tryout with Phoenix Mercury.  Internationally, she played for Turkiye Basketbol Federasyonu in 2008-09 and last year in Poland.
Of her future in the game, Koehn said, “My body is OK, but I can tell I’m getting older.  It sure takes longer to warm up.  I can’t go from 0 to 70 like I used to. (Pause) Well, for me, 0-15 like I used to.”
For now, helping her to stay young is working in Patterson’s basketball camps.
“It’s just an honor to do anything to be a part of coach Patterson’s program.  You know you’re going to be around good people who are about the right things,” said the former Moundridge High School product.  “This (camps) gives you a chance to give back a little bit.  I honestly think I get more out of these camps than I give just because of the people you’re around.”
She adds, “I want to play while I can, but I really, really hope that I can coach some day.”

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