Feb. 6, 2013
This story appeared in Wednesday's edition of K-State Sports Extra
By Mark Janssen
Heidi Brown lists her favorite Bible verse as being: “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like angels, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
For Brown, and her teammate Kendra Spresser, they have waited, and now their time has come on the Kansas State women’s basketball team.
“When you talk about what Kansas State basketball players are all about, these two epitomize that,” said head coach Deb Patterson. “They’re two players that joined us and worked extremely hard without playing many minutes, but they prepared for their opportunity, and now it’s come.”
Projected as players who would get few minutes of action here and there, Brown and Spresser are now the sixth and seventh players on the Wildcat team of seven and expected to get 20 to 30 minutes of combined court time per game the rest of the season.
“I didn’t want anything to be handed to me, and I’m sorry that my time has come because of injuries to others, but I’ve prepared for this opportunity,” said Brown, a 5-foot-11 sophomore. “I’ve worked hard on the little things and I’ve kept my head up. Now that my time has come I need to work twice as hard to do whatever I can to help my team.”
Spresser is a 5-5 guard and echoes the comments of her teammate.
“It’s been a blessing to come back and play,” said Spresser. “It feels good to be able to take something head-on again.”
There are a handful of similarities with Brown and Spresser.
Both are Kansans, from just spots on the road in western Kansas.
Spresser is from Dresden … “population 40 … a gas station and an elevator … that’s about it” ... in northwest Kansas about a dozen miles from Hoxie where she attended high school.
Brown is from Plains and starred in athletics at Southwestern Heights High School in southwest Kansas.
Both had dreams of being that next Kendra Wecker, that next Laurie Koehn, that next Nicole Ohlde.
“I attended a camp here and just fell in love with how genuine Coach P was and how passionate she was for basketball,” said Brown of her head coach. “I was going to go to Kansas or Wichita State to throw the javelin, but my heart was set on basketball.”
As a junior, Brown won the Class 3A state javelin championship getting guidance in the sport from her father, L.H., who held a world ranking when he was competing.
As a prepster at Southwestern Heights, Brown scored 1,040 points with a 51 percent field goal percentage and 81 percent from the foul line. She helped her club to the Class 3A state title in 2009 as a sophomore, and scored 19 points per game as a senior.
“It was definitely worth the time,” Brown said of her freshman year of practicing, but seldom playing. “I never gave up because I knew that God had a plan and my time would come if I worked hard.”
In particular, Brown’s time came on Jan. 23 against Oklahoma State in Bramlage Coliseum just two days after teammates Ashia Woods and Ashlynn Knoll went down with season-ending injuries.
Down to seven uniformed players, Brown, who had scored just 16 points all season, netted 10 against the Cowgirls, plus grabbed a pivotal late rebound in a 76-70 overtime victory.
“That was an amazing high,” she admitted. “Everyone on the team just played to a different level. We were so much on the same page. Coach P said if you have an open shot, take it. They just happened to be going in.”
No one was more proud than Spresser, her fellow teammate and Wildcat substitute, who had gone through a right hip injury, two left knee surgeries, and at one time thought her career was over.
The hip injury started in high school where she posted a four-year basketball record of 87-15, was all-state in volleyball, and a two-time state champion in track.
She was a tough “play through the pain” farm girl, so it wasn’t until after her freshman season at Seward County that she had to have hip surgery.
A year later and during the off-season, she tore her ACL and became just a normal student when she transferred to K-State in 2011-12.
“I went to the Baylor game last year. It was the only game I went to all year and I just thought, ‘I think I can play here,’” reflected Spresser.
She called back home to her prep coach, who in turn called K-State assistant Shalee Lehning to see if there would be an interest.
“I found myself in a pickup game of some boys and a handful of girls,” said Spresser. “That was a nervous time with coach Lehning and coach (Kelly) Moylan watching, but I guess I was good enough.”
While standing only 5-5, Spresser quips, “When I want to feel taller, I put my hair in a bun and I look 5-7.”
THIS WEEK: K-State (12-9, 3-6) will entertain Oklahoma (16-5, 6-3) tonight in a 7 p.m. start, and then travel to Iowa State (15-5, 6-4) for a 1 p.m. tipoff on Saturday.
In looking toward the rest of the season, coach Deb Patterson says the goal of the team is just as it was going into the season.
“Our goals don’t change. We’re competing to get into postseason play,” said the Wildcat coach. “That has always been our goal and that continues to be our goal. Right now we only have a win the next game attitude.”
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at email@example.com.