Emily Behnke Commits to D1 North Dakota State

February 7, 2019

Manitowoc Lutheran's Behnke verbally commits to Division I North Dakota State
Tom Dombeck, Manitowoc Herald Times ReporterPublished 4:42 p.m. CT Feb. 7, 2019 | Updated 6:02 p.m. CT Feb. 7, 2019

MANITOWOC - Emily Behnke never pictured being far from home.

The Manitowoc Lutheran senior girls basketball player knew what she wanted in a college program.

Behnke needed to find a school which offered her major, sonography or ultrasound technician, and preferably close to where she’s spent her entire life up to this point.

During her recruitment, if a program didn’t offer the major they were immediately off the list, and she was upfront about it.

She’d spoken with nearby Division III schools Concordia and Carroll University, but a school well outside of her preferred area was calling — Division I North Dakota State.

NDSU checked off the biggest box, having a sonography program.

“Right off the bat I’m looking if they have the thing I want to do with the rest of my life. Education comes first,” Behnke said.

What needed to happen next was for Behnke to feel at home, which wasn’t easy given the campus in Fargo, North Dakota, is 556 miles and 8½ hours away from Manitowoc.

“The coaches were welcoming, very good at communicating and asking me about my games. I really liked the closeness of the team,” Behnke said.

Over the course of several months of contact, that connection she needed was formed.

Behnke says she felt even more comfortable when she was able to see the Bison play Wisconsin in Madison in November.

“They play a very similar style to how I grew up playing, getting the ball inside which is what I love to do,” Behnke said.

It wasn’t until a trip in mid-January to Fargo that the 6-foot-2, two-time first-team all-Big East forward knew for certain NDSU was the right fit.

“I got to see the team practice, went out to dinner with the (players) and I told my mom if they offered me I couldn’t say no,” Behnke said.

Bison coach Maren Walseth wasted little time, offering Behnke in her office the following day. True to what she told her mom, Behnke verbally committed on the spot.

“After spending some personal time with the coaches and some of the players and seeing the facilities, it made me feel comfortable with the idea of being away from home, and excited for the possibility of being able to play with them,” Behnke said.

If it wasn’t for the same sense of family she’d enjoyed while at Manitowoc Lutheran, Behnke isn’t sure she’d have been so quick to decide.

Thankfully she says it wasn’t even a question.

“You can see how much the players want each other to succeed,” Behnke said.

Nothing is official until Behnke can put pen to paper to sign her national letter of intent April 17, but it’s more a formality than anything else.

“It’s always been a goal of mine but didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to get one,” Behnke said of a Division I scholarship. “It’s kind of like winning the lottery.”

Behnke, who is averaging 12.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game and recently crossed the 1,000-point mark for her career, isn’t quite ready to call it a career at Lutheran.

“I’m going to miss the closeness that I have with my team and my school, but I’m looking forward to this amazing opportunity to go to school to pursue my career while getting to play the sport I love,” Behnke said.