Doesn’t make a difference

Watching Mindy Lindquist on the volleyball court this season, you might think she’s one of UAA’s veterans. The 6-footer is fourth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in blocks and celebrates each stuff with a smile and a pump of her fist.

But she’s not a seasoned volleyball veteran. In her first season, Lindquist, a middle blocker for the Seawolves, has looked right at home in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Lindquist should look comfortable on UAA’s home court. For the past two years, it was her home court when she was a scrappy, hard-nosed basketball standout for the Seawolves.

After two years of hoops at Snow College in Utah , she followed her friend Kamie Jo Massey to play for UAA in the fall of 2002. Seawolf basketball fans know her better as Mindy Mendenhall but she changed her name this year after marrying John Lindquist in August 2003.

Growing up in Utah , Lindquist played volleyball and basketball at Springville High School . She actually earned more varsity letters in volleyball (4) than she did playing basketball (3). But she excelled at both sports.

She wasn’t forced to choose between the two sports until she signed to play hoops at Snow.

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“The volleyball coach asked me to play for them,” Lindquist explained. “But when I talked to the basketball coach about playing both, I was told that it would limit my chances of making the basketball team.”

Because Lindquist knew more of the basketball players, she decided not to play volleyball for the Badgers.

After two solid seasons at Snow, Lindquist followed Massey to UAA.

Last season, UAA head coach Jody Hensen used Lindquist as both a center and a power forward. Lindquist said she loved playing for UAA, where she averaged 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds last season and helped the team to the 2003 Great Alaska Shootout Championship. Fans loved Lindquist for her bordering-on-reckless style of play, her vibrant personality and a beaming smile that couldn’t be missed from the stands.

But after her hoops career ended, Lindquist still craved competition and activity. She claims that she was the “biggest fan” at UAA volleyball games and missed the sport, so she was excited to play again after making the team via tryouts in the spring.

The biggest adjustment for Lindquist was playing volleyball competitively as opposed to for fun and she needed to improve her skills. Fortunately, she had head volleyball coach Kim Lauwers and her staff around to smooth the transition. Lindquist said because she was a new player, she got a lot of input and it was hard to apply what she was learning into her game at first. But then things started to click for the 22-year-old senior.

“Coach Lauwers says that it’s like I have a light bulb over my head and when it turns on its like ‘Oh, Mindy just got it!'” she said.

Lauwers says Lindquist has switched over so well that she’s more than just a basketball player who can play volleyball.

“She’s a very vocal player and is strong, athletic and jumps well,” Lauwers said. “Her number one priority is to block. She’s made that her mission and is now one of the top blockers.”

Lindquist’s volleyball teammates agree.

“She has come an incredibly long way,” said outside hitter Jenny Mitchell, UAA’s captain. “She’s fired up and picked it up quick.”

Lindquist says that although she misses basketball, during the volleyball season, she doesn’t play pick up basketball.

“It’s out of respect for the team,” Lindquist explained. “During basketball, I wouldn’t play volleyball for fun in case I got hurt, so I do the same for volleyball.”

One thing Lindquist doesn’t miss is the conditioning involved in basketball practices. She said the biggest difference between the two sports is the mindset of the athletes.

In basketball, going to the floor for a loose ball is a sign of hustle. Lindquist was known to hit the floor with resounding “thuds” over her two-year career, once even sustaining a concussion after a tussle for a loose ball. So diving to make a dig was nothing new to her once she got the technique down. Blocking a spike in volleyball is similar to sending back a shot in basketball, which Lindquist did on a regular basis.

Long-time friend and former teammate Massey sees Lindquist’s strengths at work in each sport.

“Mindy is very intense in basketball. I like to play with her but not against her,” Massey said. “In volleyball, you get to celebrate more and that gets her more excited, which I think fits her personality well.”