Lady Jays celebrate basketball season at Minnesota West
"There are years where you have a lot of talent, and there are years where you have great kids and good team chemistry. But when they collide – we are here today and we have a trophy like that."
WORTHINGTON — Minnesota West Community and Technical College hosted a reception for its Lady Jays Wednesday evening in Worthington to celebrate the team's 30-5 record and runner-up title in the NJCAA DIII national women’s basketball tournament.
The Lady Jays were a dynamic team this past season, averaging 84.2 points per game.
Coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka spent the duration of her speech focusing on what each of her players brought to the team.
“I know you guys know them and a lot of you watched them play, but the things that they did this year, I think each one of them deserves their time in the sun,” she said. “The longer you coach, the more you treasure years like this. Because there are years where you have a lot of talent, and there are years where you have great kids and good team chemistry. But when they collide — we are here today and we have a trophy like that, and this will go down as one of the favorite seasons of my entire coaching career. Not just because you win, but because of the people I got to hang out with.”
“Many of you got to watch Brooklyn in high school and saw the things that she could do in high school,” said Hayenga-Hostikka of the former point guard at Worthington High School. “She definitely did not disappoint when she came here to Minnesota West. She made the MCAC all-defensive team, she drove other teams absolutely crazy — both on offense and defense. She was second in the nation in assists this year — she is already 10th all time in assists at Minnesota West.”
“I am a little worried about that record. I don’t know who holds it, but I would worry for that person,” said Haynega-Hostikka with a smile. “She is already sixth all time in steals. … The problem with Brooklyn is we just got to get her to believe it and we have to get her to be a little more selfish. There is nobody in our league that can guard Brooklyn and we kind of got on her case and yelled at her, ‘take it to the basket.' She is the epitome of a point guard. I had coaches come up to me at the national tournament. … They were just blown away by Brooklyn. … They just loved how Brooklyn controlled a basketball game. They were so impressed by her being a true-true point guard.”
“Sometimes I think Hattie was maybe our most overlooked player,” Hayenga-Hostikka shared. “The things that Hattie did for us never showed up in the scorebook or in the paper. … Hattie did a lot of dirty work. We called her ‘Hacking Hattie’ sometimes because she would come in and take care of business when we needed her too. Hattie is probably one of the smartest basketball players I have coached. She knew every position on the floor, offensively and defensively. She knew the plays, she knew what the other teams did. I never had to worry about Hattie not understanding what was going on.”
“I think Wiconi had the hardest role on the team this year. Because Wiconi did not get to play very much some games,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “We are so thankful that she came out and decided to be a part of the team. Wiconi showed up at practice all the time, did everything that we asked her to do. I never heard Wiconi complain — not one time. She was a real team player; she got stuck on the scout team some days when we didn’t have enough players. That is not a fun role, but I hope she knows how important she was to the team — how important that role is even when it is not glamorous and sometimes it is not fun. I know her teammates appreciated Wiconi and all that she did. Wiconi came into the regional semifinal game and scored 13 points, she came in and played huge minutes in the first game of the national tournament — we got ourselves into foul trouble and Wiconi stepped in and played big minutes.”
“It is an understatement to say that there is no dull moments on or off the court when you are hanging out with Audrey,” Hayenga-Hostikka shared. “Audrey sees the floor as well as anyone I have ever coached. Some of the passes that she made are just incredible. I remember telling the team at the beginning of the year, ‘Either have your hands up or you are going to get hit right in the face.” Audrey is never looking at you when she passes the ball. .. It is great to have a kid that can see the floor like that. Sometimes I think Audrey is such a pass-first kind of person — a little bit like Brooklyn in that matter — but Audrey is very capable of scoring. She had multiple double-digit games, in the region semifinal she had 24 points. She can fill it up too, and so she is a very dynamic player. … If you haven’t watched Audrey play, come out next year and watch her — she will not disappoint.”
“Olivia Hayenga had a pretty amazing freshman year. She was named MCAC Southern Division player of the year. I don't think we have ever had that before. She was all region first team, she was actually just recently named to the WBCA All American team,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “The WBCA is not DIII junior college, it is junior college. She was the only DIII juco player to make that team — she was honorable mention. She led the nation in points scored, she is in the top 15 in the nation in assists, steals, blocks. She is 20th all time (at Minnesota West) in scoring, third all time in steals already. I do have to tell you, her entire life I am not sure that I missed very many games that she ever played from when she was little. … Having seen almost every game that kid has ever played, I have to tell you I am not surprised what she did this year. I know what she is capable of and I probably should have complimented her a little bit more. … I do have to tell you very selfishly to share this journey with her — being my niece and a part of my life, my whole life — I feel pretty special. I feel very, very lucky.”
“She is such a great kid and I have to tell you I have enjoyed getting to know Dasia well this year, and I enjoy having Dasia around so much,” said Hayenga-Hostikka. “I think Dasia has just gotten better and better ... as the year has gone on. Her confidence has grown. … We have recently started calling her ‘Ice’ — she hit just about every big shot that we needed this year. … Early in the year, somebody got hurt and Dasia came off the bench cold and hit two huge free throws. … Then we played DI North Dakota College of Science and Dasia hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send us to overtime and we ended up winning that game. … Honestly, winning that game was one of those victories that put us over the edge to ensure that we got that at-large bid. Then maybe the biggest shot of the year … the record was 114; we had 112. There is five seconds left on the clock and Das jacks up a three and nails it. So, to ensure they don’t tie the record, they break the record.”
“Some of you had the pleasure of watching Madisyn play in high school and you can attest to what a basketball player she’s become. Somehow Madisyn has this uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time — sometimes it is a little unorthodox, sometimes she doesn’t always power the ball up after an offensive rebound as hard as she could,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Her ability to get rebounds, her ability to cut, and always be in the right place — you can’t teach that. Madisyn just knew how to do that. She was named to the all southern division team this year; she tied the record for best free throw percentage in a season at 84.3%. Madisyn is going to finish 10th all time in the history of Lady Jays basketball in scoring. She's a great shooter, I have to tell this story. … We implemented this drill this year where you had to shoot at five spots and you got to shoot there until you missed two in a row. When you missed two in a row, then you had to rotate. The goal was to make as many shots as you possibly could. Most of the team was in the 20s, the 30s, there was a couple 40s maybe — and I think Madisyn finished with like 60, 89 and 134. That’s amazing, but the funniest part of the story was that Tia was her partner. If you don’t know Tia — patience is not a virtue all the time. The day that Madisyn hit 134, I thought Tia was going to lose her mind. … Tia said, ‘We will not do that drill again this year. I am not rebounding for Madisyn again.’”
“What do I say about Tia? Another kid, I feel, that words won’t do justice for all that she’s done for Lady Jay basketball. Tia is going to leave her mark on many things. She set the single season rebounding record with 308, the old record was like 270. She has the single season blocks record with 96, she is eighth all time in scoring, 11th all time in rebounds, and second all time in blocks,” said Hayenga-Hostikka. “She was two-time all southern division, two time all-MCAC, two time in regions, region tournament MVP, and made a national tournament team two years in a row. Those are pretty impressive statistics when you look at what Tia has done on a basketball court.”
“As proud as I am of Tia as a player, I have to tell you I am about 1,000 times more proud of Tia for the person and the leader that she’s become. … Tia and I had some struggles the beginning of her freshman year, and the leader that Tia became I am just blown away. … She is another huge reason for why this team did what they did because Tia stepped up and did so many things to be such a great person and such a great leader. I am going to miss coaching her like crazy but I am so excited for what Tia is going to do.”
“It is my 27th year of coaching college basketball. Dannyn is the toughest kid I have ever coached, hands down. A lot of you probably don’t know that Dannyn had two major hip surgeries before she came to Minnesota West. She is facing a third major hip surgery and put it off so she can finish this basketball season,” said Hayenga-Hostikka. “Dannyn was in a lot of pain at times. She got plantar fasciitis in her foot, then of all things in the first game against Rochester she got thrown down and tore the labrum in her shoulder. My sister and Krek (Joel Krekelberg) — my sister being a seamstress and Krek being (the athletic) trainer concocted a brace and it helped Dannyn’s arm from popping out for the remainder of this season. Then the second time we played Rochester she had a pretty bad knee injury. … She hurt her elbow right before the national championship game — it was just gigantic.”
“The other thing is Dannyn has the all-time record — Dannyn took 33 charges this season. … That is just ludicrous. … When you get a kid that comes in and plays like that it is crazy. Dannyn is going to finish 17th all-time in scoring. This year Dannyn took on a little bit of a different role. She sacrificed for this team and didn’t score like she did her freshman year. That is hard for a kid, but Dannyn was out there doing a lot of dirty work that allowed us to be as good as we were.”
Avery Van Roekel
“Avery holds such a special place in my heart — former player, she has been my loyal assistant coach. When you have been in this business a long time and you know that you have a loyal assistant coach that believes in you, that believes in your program, that you can truly trust — then you are a lucky coach,” said Hayenga-Hostikka. “I feel very fortunate that Avery has done all that for me and has been by my side through all this. She is a huge part of it.”