Late sister inspires Concordia basketball player

MEQUON -- In February of 2004, 17-year-old Niki Doedens spent the final day of her promising life helping raise money for sight-impaired skiers. At the time, the Cedarburg High School student and athlete had a 14-year-old brother, Luke. Now, Luke is all grown up, and making quite a name for himself at Concordia University, but he's certainly not doing it alone.

It has been a season of accomplishment for Luke Doedens, and his teammates at Concordia University. The Falcons won their third straight NAC North Division title, and the senior from Cedarburg passed the 1,000 point mark. Six of those points have come in the most dramatic of fashions.

On January 31st, Doedens forced overtime in what would become a win over Marian College. On February 8th, he forced overtime in what would become a double-overtime victory over Lakeland. "The other team was supposed to foul me to put me on the line to shoot free throws, instead of a chance to tie it up, and I actually thought the guy was trying to foul me, so that's why I shot, and it ended up going in," Doedens said.

"I used to get on the guys about taking half-court shots, and kind of messing around, and then Luke hits two of them within eight days, and you start thinking, 'maybe there's something to this,'" Concordia men's basketball coach Shawn Cassidy said.

The Lakeland game was on February 8th. On that date in 2004, Luke's sister, Niki, a decorated athlete and student at Cedarburg High School was killed in a car crash. Luke says he doesn't think he plays alone. "There's no doubt in my mind that she's been there with me. She has for sure been there with me, and it's not just been this year. Even in high school, a few years after she passed, every game on February 8th, I've done well. She's with me," Doedens said.

Rather than living in a dorm on Concordia's campus, Doedens lives at home, and that's kind of a bittersweet deal. He has to drive right by where his sister lost her life, but he's also able to be with those who have given him a great life. "It's tough, but we battle through it as a family, and I have a supporting cast (at Concordia) that's helped me get through that every day," Doedens said.

Coach Shawn Cassidy says the theme for this season for the Falcons has become family, and the post-season awaits. "Cinderella stories can happen. We're not ranked nationally but we've got some power under us," Cassidy said.

Doedens knows about playing with an added power.