Wendy Lambrigtsen is back, but it might feel like she’s been around all along.
The former Oregon girls basketball coach will return to the Hawks’ sideline this winter, as she was named the new Hawks coach last week replacing Kristy Eckhardt, who resigned in July.
“I’m more than excited,” she said. “I know a lot of the kids in the program. I do some training individually and in group sessions. I’ve been doing that since 2012, and I’ve been coaching AAU for the Rockford Heat. I just never really stepped away from the game entirely.”
Lambrigtsen’s first stint with the Hawks came from 1995-1998. Before that, she had coached at Mt. Morris, her alma mater, where she played for Salley Wessels. The year Oregon and Mt. Morris consolidated, Lambrigtsen took over the Oregon sophomore team.
“She’s kind of coming home, not that she ever left,” Oregon athletic director Mike Lawton said. “Back to Oregon, Mt. Morris basketball. We’re thrilled.”
She stepped away 20 years ago, when her daughter Sam was young.
“There comes a time when you feel like you’re missing out, and your heart wants to be in two places, the gym and at home, and you want to be at home,” Wendy Lambrigtsen said.
But 20 years later, with another daughter, Olivia, about to tip off her junior year with the Hawks, the pull to be back on the sideline was too great.
“I would find myself in a gym somewhere,” Wendy Lambrigtsen said. “My love and passion for the game has done nothing but get stronger, and I’ve felt for the next several years I wanted to get back into coaching.”
With a roster featuring not only her daughter, but other players she has worked with and watched grow up, she is excited that her return to coaching is with this Oregon team.
Her work through AAU and training sessions with players has kept her up to date on changes to the game since she last led the Hawks.
“The game has evolved,” she said. “There are a lot of challenges in coaching, and I’m up for the challenge.”
A defensive-minded coach, she hopes to instill Oregon basketball with that focus on defense, and using defense to spark offensive chances.
“One of the things that she is really focusing on is getting kids to just be passionate about the game, working on fundamentals,” Lawton said. “My guess is with her experience and background and skill training, that she’s going to hit that. Really getting kids excited about the game.”