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Southwest graduate, Hiedeman, visits old stomping grounds

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

GREEN BAY – Green Bay Southwest girls’ basketball Head Coach Berri West said when Natisha Hiedeman was in the school’s youth program, she could tell the current WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) star and Southwest graduate was special.

“I could see she had a bright future on the court when she was 6 or 7 years old,” West said. “She was the girl spinning the ball on her finger, she came to all the games and was always wearing a basketball jersey. When you have a kid who’s that into the game, you know she’s going to be special.”

Hiedeman, along with her fiancé, Jasmine Thomas, were recognized Feb. 8 at the Southwest/Sheboygan South game.

A bit later, the duo signed autographs for the youth in attendance.

“It’s good to be back,” Hiedeman said. “I grew up in this gym, so it means lots to me to come back.”

Hiedeman, a 2015 Southwest graduate, scored 1,773 points in her four-year, varsity career.

Her scoring mark was broken in 2020 by another Southwest graduate, Jaddan Simmons, now playing at Arizona State University.

“Jaddan is my little homie, for sure,” Hiedeman said. “I keep my eye on her. She’s doing great things and has a bright future.”

West said Hiedeman was a naturally-gifted player.

“She’s got the work ethic, the leadership qualities, the team camaraderie and the basketball smarts, but she’s worked hard for all of it,” she said.

After a highly successful career at Marquette University, where she finished as the school’s third all-time leading scorer, Hiedeman was drafted 18th overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx.

Currently playing for the Connecticut Sun, Hiedeman averaged 7.6 points per game and shot almost 40% from beyond the 3-point line last season.

“I want to win a championship,” Hiedeman said. “That’s my only goal for this season and beyond.”

She said she’ll play as long as she can.

“As long as my body is capable and I’m playing at an elite level, I’ll continue playing,” Hiedeman said. “I’m just getting started.”

With a plethora of Division I talent coming out of the Green Bay area over the last several seasons, West said Hiedeman was looked up to.

“I had a bunch of different role models growing up,” Hiedeman said. “I’ve always tried to be the best player and person I can be. No matter where you come from, anything is possible.”

Hiedeman said she didn’t think the WNBA was a possibility until her senior year at Marquette.

“Even then, I wasn’t sure it would happen,” she said. “I always stayed present in the moment and didn’t look too far ahead. When my college coach said, ‘You can get to the league if you want,’ I went to work.”

Hiedeman said she spent lots of extra time in the gym shooting, keeping the game fun.

“It took lots of discipline,” she said. “One thing that has helped me is I’m coachable.”

The Sun open the season May 7.

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