HOOPS: The quiet leader: Hallie Christofferson steps into the spotlight


Photo: Riley Eveleth/Iowa State Daily

Senior Hallie Christofferson stands her ground against Wayne State on Sunday, Nov. 3, at Hilton Coliseum.

Dylan Montz

When the phrase “actions speak louder than words” is used, it is probably being used to describe Hallie Christofferson.

Relatively soft-spoken, the 6-foot-3-inch senior on the ISU women’s basketball team would rather step onto the floor at Hilton Coliseum and play in front of the thousands of fans and show them what she can do, than tell them about it.

As long as she is in an ISU uniform and making shots, ISU coach Bill Fennelly doesn’t care if she says a word. He even joked she would finish with more points than words spoken in her career.

But that’s fine; he can do the talking for her.

“I joke that we could practice in the library because we’re so quiet,” Fennelly said. “I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is. I think [Hallie’s] communication is more what’s going on in [the locker room] than on the court. She’ll walk up to Nikki [Moody] and say call this play.

“It’s not a rah-rah-let’s-go kind of thing.”

Following a breakout junior season in which Christofferson was a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection, she led the Cyclones in field-goal percentage (.516), 3-point percentage (.401), free-throw percentage (.862) and points per game (15.6), a new task is ahead of her.

After playing alongside former players like Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins for the first three years, Christofferson will now have to step into the spotlight. Being the new face of the team is a process she doesn’t think will happen right away, but she has been able to learn from the examples of Poppens and Prins.

“I don’t really try to put much on myself, because if I think about it too much, then I’m just going to think about it too much and not play well,” Christofferson said of the pressure this season. “So I’ll just go out every game and every practice with a clear mind, just looking forward and trying to have fun with my teammates.”

In Iowa State’s practices, Fennelly runs a drill. If the offense doesn’t score on the current possession, the team will have to run or will have to wait another possession to take a break.

Whenever that drill comes up in practices, there is only one place the ball seems to go in Fennelly’s mind: Christofferson in her No. 5 jersey.

Fennelly’s challenge to Christofferson in those situations isn’t having her make an open shot.

The real challenge comes when Christofferson finds herself under duress when shooting and making the tough shots when her team needs her to, instead of passing along the duty to someone else. Through the beginning of her senior campaign, Christofferson has accepted the responsibility of being the one her teammates look to.

“Every play we run, the first option is for her. Every play,” Fennelly said of Christofferson. “If we can do something off of that, we will, but that’s where you’ve got to start. The good thing about it is our players understand that; they believe in her and trust her; and she’s earned that over four years. That didn’t happen her first year; it took awhile.

“Now it’s her turn to be that kind of person.”

Christofferson’s hometown of Hamlin, Iowa, is a small one, with roughly 252 residents. Christofferson went to high school in Exira, where she starred and led her team to a 26-0 record her senior year. She was also captain of the Class 1A all-tournament team as well as its MVP as a senior.

Leading her team and being the face of a squad is nothing new to Christofferson, just the setting has changed.

After seeing Christofferson score her 2,000th high school point with his wife Deb, Fennelly was asked a question.

“You think she can handle the Big 12?” Deb said after watching Christofferson’s performance.

Throughout her career at Iowa State, Fennelly has been able to see why he thought she could play in the Big 12 not only by her stats, but by her work ethic. Whether it is on the court, in the classroom or in the community, Fennelly notices how hard Christofferson works to make herself better.

It is something her teammates have picked up on, too.

“A lot of people in that situation, if they had the whole program on their back — she does that and school and everything and maintains that and is a really good role model for the community as well as doing what she needs to on the court,” said junior guard Brynn Williamson. “That’s really good for her, and it’s really for our program. It gives everyone something to look up to.”

In her 86 games as a starter for the Cyclones, Christofferson has stayed true to her quiet demeanor. But in Iowa State’s exhibition opener against Wayne State on Nov. 3, the Cyclones were up 11 points with 14:53 left in the game, Nicole “Kidd” Blaskowsky had just committed a foul.

Christofferson took the opportunity to huddle her team in the paint. She called out to Blaskowsky, Jadda Buckley, Williamson and Seanna Johnson to huddle up. She preached defensive intensity, realizing the opportunity to teach the younger players.

Although she isn’t much of a talker, she’ll be able to communicate in a way that works for her and the rest of the team.

Christofferson might still end up with more points than words spoken in her ISU career, but that is something Fennelly and the rest of the team can certainly live with.