Whalen returns to lead Gophers

A collage of three images of Lindsay Whalen.

When last she played at a jam-packed Williams Arena in October, Lindsay Whalen was helping lead her Minnesota Lynx to a fourth WNBA championship in seven years. Nearly 14 years earlier, she was helping fill the Barn during the University of Minnesota’s magical ride to the Final Four in women’s basketball.

Now, Whalen is returning to her alma mater to coach the Golden Gophers—after playing at least one more summer for the Lynx. On April 12, Athletic Director Mark Coyle announced that Whalen would become a first-time coach and replace Marlene Stollings, who announced her departure for Texas Tech three days earlier.

For Whalen, it’s a chance to come back to the place she loves and to further rejuvenate a program that hasn’t made it beyond the Sweet 16 since she was in uniform.

She’s been a leader at every point in her journey, from Hutchinson High School to the Minnesota Lynx. For the Gophers, she was a four-year starter at point guard, amassing a team-record 2,285 career points (recently broken by Rachel Banham), and finishing second all-time in assists and third in steals.  

She also inspired a generation of youth who would wear her No. 13 in the stands, a role she’ll be reprising in dressy street clothes—in the Barn.

"Becoming the head coach here at the U and being a Gopher again is a dream come true,” said Whalen on Thursday. “At every level, basketball has given me so much. I've learned from so many great players, coaches and mentors, and now I have a chance to share that knowledge and help shape the new generation of Gopher stars. I'm ready to get started."

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities