Through Krabbenhofts & Basketball, Stiemsma Has Unique Ties To Sanford Health

Greg Stiemsma, left, and Joe Krabbenhoft, right, await a rebound with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2010.
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Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Timberwolves center Greg Stiemsma is no stranger to the Krabbenhoft family. From Day 1 as teammates at the University of Wisconsin, Stiemsma and Joe Krabbenhoft hit it off, eventually becoming college roommates and close friends.

That friendship flourished when Stiemsma began playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA Development League, where the 6-foot-11 shot blocker admitted he essentially lived in the Krabbenhofts’ basement during his time in South Dakota.

“His family has been really great to me,” Stiemsma said. “They opened up their home when I was in Sioux Falls, and I really consider them my extended family now.”

So as the Timberwolves get ready to play Indiana at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. tonight, Stiemsma has a unique perspective on the team’s first exhibition contest. Joe Krabbenhoft’s dad, Kelby Krabbenhoft, is the President and CEO of Sanford Health, which is sponsoring the game. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Stiemsma played three years with Krabbenhoft at Wisconsin and was his teammate again with the Skyforce, and during that time the two developed a friendship that continues to flourish today. Krabbenhoft is now a video coordinator with the Badgers, and Stiemsma said he visited Krabbenhoft in Madison, Wis., before Training Camp started to see his friend’s newborn son, whom he calls his “adopted nephew.”

While Stiemsma was in Sioux Falls, he not only spent significant time with the Krabbenhoft family—catching movies with Joe’s brother and getting to know Joe’s father and mother—but he also became familiar with Sanford’s training facilities and the type of care they provide the region.

Sanford is an integrated health system based in Sioux Falls and Fargo, and it consists of two longstanding organizations that merged in 2009. Sanford is now the largest, rural, not-for-profit healthcare system in the nation with locations in 126 communities in seven states as well as clinics in Ireland, Mexico and Israel.

From a sports medicine and training standpoint, Stiemsma got to see firsthand the type of dedication Sanford is putting toward its facilities and its training workouts.

“It was top notch,” Stiemsma said. “I think they have the big picture in mind.”

In particular, Sanford helps Stiemsma with his training regimens each time he is in the area even now as a former Skyforce player. The Skyforce, meanwhile, will move into a 160,000 square foot facility next season call The Pentagon, presented by Sanford Health. The facility will house nine basketball courts and will house junior football leagues, tennis, soccer and more.

Stiemsma said one of the best parts of playing in the D-League in Sioux Falls was making connections in the community, including the Sanford Health System that has become so pivotal in the healthcare and physical fitness in the Dakotas and beyond.

That’s part of what drives Stiemsma to facilitate that message when he returns to Sioux Falls and as a byproduct of Wednesday’s sponsored preseason game. If he can help local youth with their fitness plans, he’ll do it.

“As detailed as some of the guys are with their high school kids and even junior high kids, I’ve put kids through workouts myself and it doesn’t matter what level you are, we’re looking out for the best, what’s best for them,” Stiemsma said. “Any little way we can help them, if it means more coming from a D-League guy or now an NBA guy, I’m going to try and help out as much as I can.”

Still, being able to participate in this week’s trip to Fargo is special for Stiemsma on both professional and personal levels. Not only did Stiemsma tour the Sanford POWER Center in Fargo—a personalized athletic training facility designed to meet the training and physical conditioning of athletes and individuals who want to be fit and healthy all year-round—but he plans on getting to catch up with his Krabbenhoft “extended family.”

After all, despite Kelby Krabbenhoft being a major component of the Sanford Health system, there’s much more to this relationship than simply business.

“To me, he’s just Kelby,” Stiemsma said. “It’s almost kind of weird to see him come home in his suit and seeing the business side of it, too. Because to me, he’s always been Kelby. I love that I can be a part of it.”

In some respects, it will be a nice preseason reunion.

“My group of older friends, my guys I know through Kelby should all be there,” Stiemsma said. “It should be a great atmosphere and a lot of fun for me.”

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