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Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Once their collegiate careers were complete, many former Minnesota State student-athletes have had the opportunity to play professionally in Europe and other countries outside of the United States.

Lisa Walters, the Maverick All-America center from nearby Henderson, Minn., played women's basketball in Sweden following the conclusion of her four seasons (1984-88) in Mankato. 

Quarterback Jamie Pass and defensive lineman Steve Connelly also both played football in Sweden in the early 1990's. Outside hitter Tiffany Graham (2002-06) played professional volleyball in Spain. Women's basketball forwards Ali Wilkinson (2009-14) and Jamie Bresnahan (2011-15) are playing in Portugal and Spain, respectively.  

We've written about the litany of men's basketball players who have continued to play across the globe: Tony Thomasson (2003-07, Germany), Paris Kyles (2005-07, Poland), Jamel Staten (2003-05, China and Bahrain), Corey Easley (2005-06, Australia), Atila Santos (2006-08, Brazil), Harry Boyce (2008-09, Dominican Republic), Travis Nelson (2008-10, Slovenia, Czech Republic), Cameron Hodges (2009-11, Luxembourg, Slovenia), Jefferson Mason (2009-11, Luxembourg) and Jarvis Williams (2012-13, Luxembourg).  Currently, Connor Miller is toiling in Sweden and Egytian-national Assem Marei is in Lithuania. Travis Nelson and Zach Monaghan have played against each other this year when their teams clashed in league action in Spain.

Several former Maverick men's hockey players have extended their careers by playing with teams in Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and England. (A list of current former Mavericks playing pro hockey is available HERE). After retiring from a lengthy playing career across the Atlantic, former Minnesota State forward Aaron Fox (1996-2000) serves as the general manager of Medvescak Zagreb, an organization that competes in the Kontinental Hockey League, which boasts 28 teams stretching across Belarus, Croatia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Lativa, Russia and Slovakia. 

Former Minnesota State women's hockey forward Nina Tikkinen (2007-11) is playing in Finland for Kärpät and defenseman Emilia Andersson (2008-13) vies for Linköpings HC in Sweden.  Defenseman Lauren Barnes (2011-14) played a year in Germany with Ingolstadt where Tracy McCann (2010-14) now competes.

It's at this time of year that the hockey folks turn their attention to the World Junior Championship.  This year's tournament, featuring the top U20 men's players from around the globe, is taking place in Finland from Dec. 26-Jan. 6.

Junior forward Zach Stepan was a member of the U.S. national team that played in the 2014 WJC that took place in Sweden. And Teddy Blueger played for Latvia at three WJCs (2012 and 2013 in Group A and 2014 in Group B).

It's always a big deal when you get to represent your country in international competition (just ask Jim Dilling, who claimed the U.S. high jump championship 2007 and represented the Red, White & Blue at the World Championships Track & Field Championship in Japan) and in addition to Stepan, several other Mavericks have had the opportunity to don their hockey national team colors.  

Including two Olympic Games (Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014), the aforementioned Nina Tikkinen has played for Finland in several international competitions. As has Emilia Andersson for Sweden. David Backes (2003-06) suited up for the U.S. in the last two Olympics and Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Carter (2004-06) was a member of the U.S. national team that played in the 2013 IIHF Men's World Championship tournament in 2013 in Sweden and Finland. Goaltender Shari (Vogt) Dickerman (2000-04) was a member of the U.S. women's national team that played in the 2006 Four Nations Cup in Kitchener, Ont.

It's great to be a Maverick!

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