FAIRFIELD — Marty Klinker hears the same question a lot.
What are you feeding those girls?
On Wednesday, his youngest daughter and Fairfield senior Natalie Klinker signed a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball at the University of Idaho.
She’s now the third member of her family to earn a Division I basketball scholarship following in the footsteps of her oldest sister Molly, who signed with Montana out of high school (and has since transferred to UM-Western), and middle sister Lizzy, who’s entering her sophomore year at Utah State.
“Couldn’t be prouder (of Natalie), it’s a lot of years of hard work for her,” said Marty. “We’re very excited about the program she’s going to. They’ve got a very good program and she’s got some really good teammates there that she’s going to have a lot of fun with.”
Natalie committed to the Vandals last spring after falling in love with the town of Moscow and the women’s basketball program during her official visit.
“The girls were really fun to be around,” she said. “And I also like the environment of the town, so it was kind of the perfect fit.”
She’s excited to play in the Big Sky Conference and looks forward to having friends and family travel to watch her when the Vandals play at Montana and Montana State. It also helped that Idaho has a highly rated veterinary science program, an area of study Natalie has always been interested in growing up on the family farm near Fairfield.
Fairfield head coach Dustin Gordon has watched all three Klinker sisters come through the highly successful program and is impressed at how Natalie did things her own way.
“You know, it’s really weird, all three girls went and played Division I and all three are very uniquely different in their skill set and how they progressed,” he said. “Natalie was gangly. We used to refer to her as a ‘bull in a China closet’ because she was always knocking people down. But she has really become a refined player and very skilled, very strong, very tough to stop, different than either of her sisters.”
“She did a good job of shopping around,” Gordon continued. “She was solicited by a number of schools and really did her homework as far as what she’s going to go into for education, as well as the fit with the basketball, and I think she made a great choice.”
Natalie credits her development to playing on a competitive team at Fairfield and growing up in with a supportive but (very) competitive family.
“We always went to the gym together,” she said of her sisters. “Liz and I would always end up playing one-on-one, but we’d always end up fighting about who fouled who.”
And the sibling rivalry extended well beyond the basketball court.
“There’s always some type of competition,” laughed Natalie. “Like how long our hair is.”
(Natalie says she wins.)
But before the youngest Klinker heads to Moscow, she has one more year at Fairfield. The Eagles finished runner-up to two-time defending champion Malta at the 2016 State B tournament but return a solid core that includes fellow seniors Allix Goldhahn and Brooke Poor. Klinker averaged 20 points and 13.3 rebounds as a junior post.
“Definitely knowing that we could have put in that last bit of work to get those few points, its fire in your belly for this year,” she said. “Malta is a good team. They played really well last year. They worked hard and they got it, so hopefully that’s us this year.”