MANKATO, Minn. -- Three Minnesota State players who regularly make a difference on the hardwood decided to take their work ethics to other countries this summer to invest in people all over the world. Ali Wilkinson, Lexie Ulfers and Alli Hoefer went out to impact people everywhere.

Wilkinson, a senior forward, went to Peru to tell people about Jesus, pray, play with children, pick up trash and to build shelters for homeless or abused women and children. Wilkinson went through New Creation World Outreach Church in Mankato from July 29-Aug. 22. New Creation helped Wilkinson have an experience of a lifetime and even gave her a heart to go back long-term after her senior year wraps up at Minnesota State-Mankato.

It has been a joy to watch these three young women carry themselves with integrity and class and to see the impact that they have made stretching far beyond the basketball court.
-- Emilee Thiesse, Minnesota State-Mankato head coach

"I want to be a missionary," Wilkinson said. Wilkinson explained her favorite part of the trip was the children she got the opportunity to play with.

Wilkinson played in all 32 games for the Mavericks, starting 31 and led the team in points and rebounds. Wilkinson averaged 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game during the 2012-13 season. Wilkinson was a Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American Honorable Mention as well as a Women's Division II Bulletin All-American Honorable Mention. Wilkinson was also named to the 2013 Daktronics Women's Basketball All-Central Region Team and to 2012-13 All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference First Team. 

Ulfers, a junior forward, went to Allejuela, Atenas and Jaco, Costa Rica. Ulfers left Aug. 2 and came back about 10 days later but her life changed drastically in a short amount of time. Ulfers helped a woman who had opened her home to six orphans. There are many children in Costa Rica without homes and to be able to give them that love and attention they had been longing for really meant a lot to Ulfers. World Endeavors is the program Ulfers went through, as she went to gain more experience in the medical field.

"I love kids and I want to be a pediatrician," Ulfers said. Children were jumping on her back and telling her that they loved her by the end of the trip, she said. Ulfers stated the hardest part about the trip was building relationships with people and then having to leave.  

Ulfers appeared in 11 games, netting 5.1 points  and 3.4 rebounds per game. She also had 10 blocks before her season was cut short due to injury.

Senior guard Alli Hoefer went to Ghana this summer to study abroad and gain experience in a hospital to further her physical therapy education. Hoefer left May 17 and returned July 18. Gaining hands-on experience in a hospital helped give Hoefer a new perspective.

"You can't take for granted what you have," Hoefer said.

Hoefer said this experience is one of the things she will not take for granted because it allowed her to see how things worked in a different culture, with different people. The trip gave Hoefer an opportunity to have a hands-on experience and help the people in Ghana just as much as they helped her.

Hoefer started all 32 games for the Mavericks during the 2012-13 campaign and led the Mavericks with 115 assists. Hoefer netted 6.1 points per game and hauled down 3.0 rebounds per game. She connected on 40 percent of her shots from the field.

All three Mavericks said they felt as though they had been impacted and made an impact this summer. These young women are well-known at Minnesota State-Mankato for their hard work on the court, as well. Head Coach Emilee Thiesse said Wilkinson, Ulfers and Hoefer were all natural leaders for the women's basketball program on and off the court.

"They demonstrate great character and are excellent representatives of our program," Thiesse said. "As upperclassmen, they provide an outstanding example to those around them by constantly working hard and challenging themselves on the basketball court and in the classroom. It has been a joy to watch these three young women carry themselves with integrity and class and to see the impact that they have made stretching far beyond the basketball court."

On the hardwood or around the world, Wilkinson, Hoefer and Ulfers will continue to make a big difference.