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Portion of proceeds from posters to go to Team Eppen


QUEENS OF THE COURT — NRHEG girls’ basketball seniors and Rhonda Hareid of Looks Unlimited pose for a photo with their newest creation, “Queens of the Court” posters to be sold at the Panthers’ final home games. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit former NRHEG and current Burnsville teacher and coach Matt Eppen, who was diagosed with cancer. From left: Carlie Wagner, Jade Schultz, Rhonda Hareid, Hannah Lundberg and Paige Overgaard.


Staff Writer

Rhonda Hareid, owner of Looks Unlimited of rural Ellendale, felt the NRHEG girls’ basketball team was not only talented, but included some beautiful young ladies. She also felt the team should be photographed for a lasting memento, honoring their 23-plus wins this season, as well as their 50-plus continuous wins and Minnesota state championship in 2013. So she did something about it.

Hareid had earlier helped organize and produce two calendars, the first, "Rugged Men of Looks Unlimited" in 2012, and the "Hot Looks For A Cure" calendar this year, so she has had experience in presenting people at their finest.

Hareid recently arranged a special photo shoot of the 2013-2014 girls’ basketball team for a poster titled, "Queens of the Court." Hareid helped the girls to be dressed and styled to their best and Cole Johnson of Haute LLC Tanning of Owatonna gave them free spray tans, as well as did the photo shoot.

“Most often, the public only sees the girls in their basketball uniforms,” said Hareid. “We wanted people to see them dressed up a bit.”

Ideas were discussed, the girls got busy and made telephone calls, talked with friends and relatives, and were able to find long black dresses, red shoes and white gloves to wear for the photo shoot.

The team’s coaches, John Schultz and Grant Berg, also came dressed for the shoot. Coach Onika Peterson and student managers Sidney Schultz and Annie Prigge were also there.

Johnson gathered group in the NRHEG gymnasium for the pictures. He then got busy designing the “Queens of the Court” poster.

Originally, it was hoped the poster would serve as a special memento for the girls in regard to their great seasons on the basketball court. It was also hoped sales from the poster would help provide support for Carlie Wagner, who was selected to the Girls’ Basketball All-Star Game at Carlton College in Northfield April 26.

A few extra pictures were taken after the group photo; those will be saved on disks for each of the girls.

Then came the news that a special recognition was set for coach Matt Eppen at Burnsville High School where he currently teaches, coaches and resides. Eppen was a world history and social studies teacher and football, boys’ basketball and golf coach at NRHEG from 1998-2008, and still has a great number of friends here.

Eppen was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, last summer, and recently experienced some difficulties and missed some time from school and coaching. This type of bone marrow cancer has also touched the lives of several area residents including Coach Schultz's step mother, Joyce Schultz, and Hareid’s sister, Roxi Copp.

Eppen was able to resume teaching and coaching responsibilities in early February.

A special welcome back event was planned for Eppen during the Burnsville basketball game Valentine’s Day. About 30 area people, including former players, coaches, co-workers and friends, made the trip to Burnsville. Many NRHEG teachers, staff and friends earlier in the week donated money in support of Eppen, and their donations were given to he and his family following the game.

The Blaze team came out on the floor to warm up wearing "Team Eppen" T-shirts.

The Panther boys’ basketball coaches, as well as the Blooming Prairie coaching staff, purchased "Team Eppen" T-shirts and wore them Friday night.

The story doesn't end there.

Once it was learned that a picture had been taken of the “Queens of the Court,” it was decided to order more posters so others in the area could also have a memento. It was felt some of the money raised from the sale could be donated to the Eppen family, which includes his wife, Amy, and two daughters, Avery, 3, and Natalie, not yet a year old.

The "Queen of the Court" posters will be available for sale during the last two home girls’ basketball games at New Richland. The team hosts Southland on Thursday, February 20 and Fairmont on Monday, February 24.

Players pictured on the poster include Kayley Camerer, Ryann Hagen, Kelli Harrington, Hannah Lundberg, Paige Overgaard, Jade Peterson, Gretchen Ramaker, Jade Schultz, Anna Stork, Carlie Wagner, Maddie Wagner and Marnie Wagner.

The girls have worked hard so hard and devoted so much energy into achieving their goal of once again being named Minnesota state champs. Our thoughts, prayers and good wishes are with them all.

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