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A global career brings Hendricks home

Todd Hendricks

Alexandria native and former Minnesota State-Fergus Falls football All-American Todd Hendricks will join former Itasca Community College standouts Emma Nelson and Jessica Dvergsten as inductees in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Class of 2015 Hall of Fame.

Hendricks, who returned to the area roughly a year and a half ago after an 18-year teaching and coaching tenure, appreciates the MCAC recognition following an illustrious athletic career spanning across the globe.

"It's very humbling and I feel very honored to be selected among the conference. There have been a lot of very good athletes come through that conference," Hendricks said on Tuesday afternoon. "I had some great teammates [in Fergus Falls] and it was just an exciting time for me. I needed to grow up a little bit and was a little bit immature at the time. I had some big school offers coming out of high school, but I ended up having to go there with my grades. It was a great place for me to grow and get an opportunity to continue my career; otherwise I might not have even gone to college."

The 47-year-old was born in Graceville in 1968 and was a multi-sport athlete during his high school days growing up in Alexandria.

Hendricks was a two-year starter at running back for the Cardinal football team and set a state record for punt return yards in a single season, while also starting for three seasons as a member of the basketball program.

He attended Minnesota State Community and Technical College from 1987-88 in Fergus Falls and was a dual-sport standout for the Spartans in football and track.

Hendricks led the team in receiving yards, yards from scrimmage, all-purpose total yards, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns during the 1988 season and was named an All-MCAC and National Junior College Athletic Association All-American as an all-purpose player.

He played receiver and running back while returning kicks for the Spartan football team and was a top sprinter for the track squad in 1987 and earned all-conference honors in the 100 and 200-meter dashes while anchoring the state champion and school record-holding 400-meter relay team.

After earning his degree at M State-Fergus Falls, Hendricks transferred to the University of Mary in North Dakota, where he was a two-year starter with conference honors at receiver and running back for the Division II football team. As a senior captain, Hendricks helped lead Mary to its first-ever national ranking and became the first athlete in school history to sign a professional football contract.

Hendricks signed a contract with the Austrian Football League's Vienna Rangers in 1993. Hendricks said the Austrian and German American football leagues are regarded among the top of their kind in Europe, comparable to Division II and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Division I level in the states.

He played in all or parts of six seasons from 1993 until 2002 for the Rangers, helping the team to the AFL playoff semifinals four times and the European Football League tournament playoffs in 1996. He was honored as the Austrian Football League Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year in the 1995 season.

Hendricks set the AFL single-season league records for receptions (75), touchdowns (20) and receiving yards, while averaging 167 all-purpose yards and more than two touchdowns per game in his European football career.

He returned to U-Mary to complete his four-year degree in 2000 and has spent 18 years substitute teaching and coaching at the high school, college and professional levels.

Stops during that span included head coaching football gigs at Wabasso High School, the Alexandria Mustangs semi-professional football team in the Great Plains Football League, the Bern Grizzlies football club in Switzerland and the Terni Steelers and Viterbo Pitbulls football clubs in Italy.

He also served as an assistant high school coach and coordinator for Osakis, Kimball Area and Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and collegiately at Augsburg and Ridgewater along with coaching stints with the Thun Tigers football club in Switzerland and AFC Rangers in Austria.

After a career of travel, Hendricks welcomes the comfort in the return back home.

"I'm happy to be back in Alexandria. I feel like I'm back home and I like to see the Alex Cardinals," he said. "It's fun to go watch that and it brings back some old memories from high school even."

Will Benson

Will Benson is the sports reporter for the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2015 and is a Minnesota native, but grew up living in Iowa City, Iowa for 12 years. You can follow him on Twitter at WillBensonEP.

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