Elliott column: Brenden returns to the spotlight

Elliott column: Brenden returns to the spotlight

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Elliott column: Brenden returns to the spotlight

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SAUK RAPIDS

Jenny Brenden had to skip the big homecoming game Friday night.

A high school teammate had a wedding she was in.

The former Sauk Rapids great, however, will be at the Sauk Rapids hall of fame brunch and induction ceremony Saturday morning at the high school.

“It’s exciting,” Brenden said. “To be quite honest, I didn’t even know Sauk Rapids had a hall of fame.

“It’s an honor to be selected and it’ll be good to be back. It’s very exciting to see people I haven’t seen for a while.”

Brenden is one of seven people inducted in this year’s hall of fame group.

All were honored Friday at Sauk Rapids’ football game with Moorhead.

Also inducted were: Jerry Strating (1969-72), Don Wichmann (1943-46), Sharon Sauer (1979-82), Scott Schulte (1986-89), Ken Hill (1950-54) and Pat Burski (1956).

They’re part of the second induction class at Sauk Rapids. It’s a lot of work for people who work on the community, but a really good idea because everyone has a chance to revisit the past and learn about a school’s tradition and history.

This group allows for revisiting Brenden’s career. She is one of the area’s most highly decorated female athletes all-time, a regular on these sports pages over a five-year period.

A 2000 graduate, she went on to a four-year basketball career at Penn State. That was after making the Times’ all-area girls basketball team four straight years, including being the player of the year her last three years and leading Sauk Rapids to the state tournament in 1998.

Brenden represents the glory days of Storm girls basketball, though there were good teams before and after her time at Sauk Rapids (the 2004 team also went to state).

Brenden also was a two-time Times volleyball player of the year as well as an excellent softball player.

These days, she and her husband Jarrett Yehlen live in St. Paul and have one child with another on the way. Her pregnancy is keeping her from playing in the hall of fame golf tournament Saturday afternoon, though her husband, her father (Todd) and brother (Michael) all will play.

Brenden has done quite well since her playing days. She went on to get her master’s degree and works at the University of Minnesota, where she is an assistant athletic director and AD Norwood Teague’s chief of staff.

“I’m doing what I want to do,” said Brenden, who has worked at Minnesota since 2007. “I got lucky, got my foot in the door and was fortunate to find the right opportunity.”

She is expected to give a speech Saturday morning.

“With seven or eight being inducted, I’ve thought about it and I’ve been to enough of these type of things where I know ‘short and sweet’ is the best,” she said. “My message is just to be giving a lot of thank-yous to my former coaches, family, teachers, classmates and the community.

“They’re the ones who made my experience so special.”

She enjoys working for Teague and says it has been a rewarding experience.

“It’s been awesome, a really wonderful experience,” she said. “I can’t say enough good things about him and some of the changes he’s made and the vision he has for U of M sports.”

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