By Jace Frederick
Murphy News service
Katie Loberg is moving on from the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team after four years that taught her numerous life lessons.
She said she’s prepared for whatever life brings her next because of them.
“This whole experience has just taught me that I can be a really passionate person about different things,” Loberg said. “Being determined is really important, not only in basketball, but in life and bettering yourself to be a successful person.”
Loberg, a 2009 Princeton High School graduate, has played in more than 100 games during her time at the U, starting in 53 games.
She’s developed as a person, both on and off the court. Injuries plagued much of her senior season, causing her to miss numerous practices, said Gopher Head Coach Pam Borton.
“I’ve had to deal with a lot of situations that [have] made me more mentally tough than I ever was in high school,” Loberg said.
Loberg didn’t experience the level of success on the court that she expected. The Gophers failed to reach the NCAA tournament during her career.
“I’ve grown up watching the Gophers, and they’ve gone to the Final Four and they’ve made it to the NCAA tournament every year,” she said. “In that aspect, I’ve been a little bit disappointed.”
The team’s trip to Mexico this season to compete in the Cancun Challenge topped her list of experiences.
“I would say the best part would be just traveling with my teammates,” Loberg said. “It’s not even the games that I always remembered. It’s the fun with teammates that are like family.”
One of the Gophers’ greatest victories in Loberg’s career came on her senior night, her last regular season game at Williams Arena, when Minnesota upset seventh-ranked Penn State 89-81.
“It was an amazing night to be able to round out my career with my fellow senior Leah Cotton,” she said. “It was just a really fun experience to have all my family, high school friends and high school coaches there to watch. It was so much fun.”
“To beat a team like Penn State on senior night in our last home game was pretty awesome,” Borton said. “That’s something that we’ll all never forget.”
The team will miss Loberg’s experience and work ethic, Borton said.
“Coaching Katie for the last four years is going to be very memorable. I’ll definitely miss her next year,” she said.
Loberg plans to stay connected to the university.
“Once you’re a Gopher, you’re always a Gopher,” she said. “Part of my heart will always be here. Someday if my kids could come here, that would just be awesome.”
Loberg graduates with a journalism degree May 19. She is currently working as a sports reporter intern with KARE 11 television. Her dream job is to work on-camera as a sports reporter, covering the Gophers.
“I’m really interested in broadcast,” she said. “I’m open-minded and I’m ready for a different set of life experiences.”
Loberg believes basketball provided a prep course for other aspects of her life.
“I would say basketball has been the best learning experience I could have asked for, compared to what a work experience is going to be like,” she said. “I feel like I’m pretty prepared for what’s to come because of it.”
She knows leaving the sport behind won’t be easy.
“I’m kind of in a quarter-life crisis,” Loberg said. “I feel like I’ll be OK. I’m a really adaptable person. I’ll find something else to fill my time.”
Loberg aimed to represent Princeton well throughout her college career.
“I’d like to hope I’ve been a good role model to younger girls in the Princeton program,” she said. “I’d like to hope that I’m someone that they can look up to and that they feel welcome to be able to ask me about things.”
She’s grateful for the hometown support she’s received.
“I’m very thankful for everyone in the Princeton community,” Loberg said. “My teachers and all the coaches I’ve had, whether it was volleyball, track, cross country or basketball. I’m just really appreciative of the opportunities everyone’s given me.”
Loberg wasn’t sure the decision to attend Minnesota to play basketball was the right one when she came to campus.
“I thought maybe I was doing it just to please other people,” she said.
Four years later, her feelings changed.
“I’ve totally done this for myself,” she said. “It’s something I really care about. If I didn’t care about it so much, there’s no way I would’ve made it through my four years.”
Reporter Jace Frederick is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.