Linfield Wildcats

Wildcat Spotlight

January 31, 2017
A Fork in the Road
Transitioning from high school to college can be a time of great upheaval for new college students. Uprooted from their homes and sent on a journey that forces them to create a new life for themselves, the transition can take its toll on both the student and their family.
 
Like all other college students, Linfield College women's basketball player Mariah Hellebrandt (Jr., Bozeman, Mont.) went through this process. Yet unlike many of her classmates, she went through the process twice.
 
After high school graduation, Hellebrandt struggled to decide between a school close to home or another that was very far away. Two schools stood out to her as her decision loomed: the University of Great Falls and Linfield College. Ultimately, she made the decision to attend the University of Great Falls because it was a relatively short three-hour drive from her home in Bozeman, Mont.
 
“I liked Great Falls because it was a smaller school and close to my hometown, but far enough away that it was different world,” says Hellebrandt.
 
Even after arriving and enrolling in classes at UGF, “I still had Linfield in the back of my head,” she says, wondering what her college experience might be like in Oregon.
 
At the close of Hellebrandt's freshman year, she made a second big decision, saying goodbye to the University of Great Falls and moving West to a new college in a new state.
 
“I came to the conclusion that Linfield had more opportunities for what I want academically and I wanted to be part of the basketball program,” Hellebrandt says confidently. “Linfield has a lot more happening on campus than University of Great Falls.”
 
At first, the transition was not easy.
 
“It was difficult moving out of the state I had lived my whole life in and moving away from my family and really close friends from high school,” she says. “It was different being in a different state. I know I made the right decision, but once I left I realized what good friends I was leaving at my old school and the thought of starting with a whole new slate was scary.”
 
Thriving within small, close-knit groups, Hellebrandt quickly found a home at Linfield. She says graciously, “From the beginning, I felt very welcome here. I've been so involved with basketball and the biology department that I have met a lot of people.”
 
Growing up in Montana, Hellebrandt developed an immense respect for the outdoors. She enjoys spending much of her free time hiking or camping. Her love for the outdoors has prompted her to pursue a major in biology with the aspiration of perhaps becoming a marine biologist. Though she doesn't quite know the exact direction her career path will take, she does know, ideally, it will involve the outdoors.
 
To help refine her career path, Hellebrandt plans to study abroad in the Galapagos, a cluster of islands off the coast of Ecuador. “I'm hoping that experience will narrow down exactly what I want to do.”
 
Away from the court, Hellebrandt has been playing basketball since she was in fifth grade. “I love the sport,” she says. “I love the hustle, the teamwork and the thrill of it.”
 
On the court, she focuses on providing what is best for her teammates. “I hope to be a positive influence, bring energy and always work to be a bigger post presence. Really, I just hope to be a good teammate.”
 
Says teammate Paige Graham (Jr., Scio, Ore.), “Mariah plays a very important role on our team. She is constantly challenging those in the post position every day in practice. She's an excellent example of a hard worker, coming to practice every day, getting better and pushing others to get better as well. She is always well prepared. When she gets in the game, she is unexpected by the opponent and performs her role.”
 
Wildcats guard Jade Everage (Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.) is quick to point out Hellebrandt's ability to use her lengthy 6-foot frame in the paint. “She is always ready to get that rebound we need or take her favorite shot from the high post.”
 
Both teammates speak highly of Hellebrandt's character off of the court.
 
“Off the court, Mariah is a bubbly, kind, and very intelligent woman,” says Graham. “I see her spending her time efficiently in Renshaw, the library, or planning outdoor activities with her friends.”
 
Adds Everage: “As a friend she is very encouraging and supportive, and is never afraid to be a little silly at times. She's a wonderful friend and teammate.”
 
Mariah Hellebrandt (Jr., Bozeman, Mont.)'s journey to Linfield may not have followed the traditional path many of her classmates have taken, but whether she's on the basketball court or hiking the endless trails of the Pacific Northwest, it's clear that she has found her place at Linfield.
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Mariah Hellebrandt
Interested in a career in marine biology