By Chase Russell
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
If you were to meet Iowa State’s Hallie Christofferson on campus, you might not know that you are talking to one of the best college basketball players in the nation. The senior leader of the no. 15 Cyclones comes from humble beginnings, but has somehow managed to remain humble after establishing herself as one of the best to every wear the cardinal and gold.
“Hallie was named preseason All-Big 12 this year, and I think that she is maybe one of the best players in the country that people don’t know about,” Iowa State women’s basketball head coach Bill Fennelly said. “She is very understated. She will probably score more points than words spoken in four years here, but she is someone who does a lot for our team. She is the face of our team this year.”
Christofferson, a native of Hamlin, Iowa (population: 251), graduated from Exira High School with just 28 students in her senior class. During the 2010-11 season, the self-described “farm girl” led the Exira Spartans to a perfect 26-0 season and an Iowa Class 1A State Championship while averaging a double-double along the way (27.1 PPG and 15.7 RPG).
While on the microphone during the 2013 Iowa State women’s basketball media day, Fennelly recalled a night when he witnessed Christofferson score her 2000th career point at the high school level while leading her team to a 41-2 halftime advantage. On the two hour drive back to Ames, Fennelly wondered if this small town girl had what it takes to compete in the Big 12 Conference.
“I really didn’t know what to expect. Coming from a small school, where I could score whatever I wanted on any given night, to the Big 12, I just remember getting pushed around so much,” Christofferson said. “At Iowa State, where the competition is just bigger, faster, and stronger, the post players were so physical. I just got beat up on the post.”
While she had to adjust to the big stage, Christofferson put together an impressive freshman campaign as a Cyclone. The 6-foot 3-inch forward averaged 9.3 PPG and 5.1 RPG in her first season at Iowa State on her way to earning Big 12 All-Freshman Team honors.
“I don’t know if there is any way to quantify it. It would be like a kid leaving high school, and tomorrow he’s starting in the World Series,” Fennelly said. “Her work ethic is amazing. Her skillset has improved. She has done everything that we asked her to do since the day she walked on campus.”
Christofferson returned to the court for her sophomore year poised to improve. During the 2011-12 season, Christofferson shot 45-percent from beyond the arc, second in the Big 12, while tallying three double-double performances against Drake, Michigan, and Texas Tech.
In her third year in Ames, Christofferson averaged 15.6 PPG while starting all 33 games for Iowa State, joining Anna Prins as the only other Cyclone to do so. Christofferson led her team to a 24-9 record and a No. 5 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament while being unanimously voted to the All-Big 12 First Team.
After being placed on the Naismith Trophy Watch List, named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, making the Wooden preseason list, and earning All-Big 12 Preseason honors, Christofferson says she is focusing on one thing: enjoying her senior season.
“I don’t really expect anything; I just try to have fun,” Christofferson said. “Coach always tells me no matter what happens, don’t let it ruin your senior year. Coach is always on the sidelines, he’ll give me a smile once in a while just to help me relax and just to let me know that I’m trying to have a fun senior year.”
What is most impressive about Christofferson is not her decorated career on the court at Hilton Coliseum, but the way that she carries herself off the court, in the classroom, and in her community.
Majoring in graphic design, Christofferson has made the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times, earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors twice, and was named an ISU Scholar Athlete in 2013 while carrying a 3.41 GPA.
“I don’t have much free time. I go to basketball, I go to school, and I do homework, and that’s about it,” Christofferson said. “Right now I just have to focus on getting my degree and helping the Iowa State basketball team. I just have that mindset; I manage my time between basketball and school, and I just can’t let other things get in the way.”
Associate Professor in Iowa State’s College of Design, Paula Curran, has had Christofferson in class for the past two semesters. Curran describes the Cyclone superstar as quiet, shy, and friends with all of her classmates.
“Hallie is a wonderful student and a great person; I just find her a delight,” Curran said. “It’s really impressive the way that she carries herself. She has never missed a deadline, she has never asked for an extension, and she is incredibly humble.”
While balancing school and basketball, Christofferson says that she finds time to talk to her parents, Tom and Phyl Christofferson, on the phone every day.
“I’m always going to be a farm-girl at heart. That’s just how I grew up,” Christofferson said. “I learned a lot from my parents, and I want to be like them. They taught me that just being a good person will get you far in life.”
When she’s not dropping double-doubles on the court or standing out in the classroom, Christofferson finds a way to give back to her community. Since her freshman year, Christofferson and the Cyclones have been a part of the life of “teammate” Elyse Lambert through St. Jude Children’s Hospital. At the age of four years old, Lambert signed a letter of intent in Nov. of 2010 to become a member of the Iowa State women’s basketball team.
Lambert has been suffering from a brain tumor, and, when she signed with the Cyclones, she and her family her facing very uncertain times. In the three years since she became a part of the team, Lambert is regularly on the Iowa State bench during games; she even made an appearance at the team Christmas party this year.
Though she may be one of the best basketball players in Iowa State history, Christofferson has been defined by more than her on the court accomplishments. To those who know Hallie Christofferson, she is more than just the face of the Cyclones. She is a role model, a friend, and the definition of what a student-athlete should be.