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Former Wessington Springs basketball star now residing in Cleveland

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The Daily Republic
Former Wessington Springs basketball star now residing in Cleveland
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

WESSINGTON SPRINGS -- Living life in the fast-paced sports world is normal for former Wessington Springs girls basketball star Lacey (Johnson) Babich.

After graduating from North Dakota State University in 2005 following a successful college basketball career, Babich has followed her husband, Bobby, around the country as he pursues a career as a football coach.

Now married for seven years with two children -- daughter Lainey, 6, and son Bray, 4, -- the couple has went from Kent State University in Ohio to Eastern Illinois University and on to the National Football League with the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and 2012.

Now settled in a suburb of Cleveland -- Strongsville, Ohio -- for a second season, where Bobby is the defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns, Lacey Babich said her love of sport has prepared her for the life she now lives.

"We are still living that life," Babich said of her and Bobby, who met at NDSU. "With my husband's profession, I live the sports lifestyle every day, so I'm able to relate on a different level with sports. We are intertwined in athletics."

Babich averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds per game for Wessington Springs in 2000 during her senior year. She left the school as the girls basketball leader in points, rebounds, steals, assists and blocks. At NDSU, she scored 10.9 points per game during her senior year in 2004-05, helping the Bison to a 26-1 overall record.

Currently, Babich is not involved in sports on a coaching level or with her children, but she envisions getting into sports herself when her children are older and her family is in a more settled situation.

"Anybody that is involved in sports gets to a point in their lives when they miss the camaraderie of playing," Babich said, adding jokingly that she does not miss all the practices and workouts from her playing days.

Babich, who also played volleyball and competed in track and field at Wessington Springs High School, returned home last week for a vacation with her children to Wessington Springs. She said she enjoys being able to go back to see family, as well as get in some camping and fishing. Babich said her family was safe following the tornado that touched down in the town Wednesday.

"We really appreciate it when do get to go home," Babich said.

She said she enjoys getting together with her friends and former teammates when returning to where she grew up.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in business administration from NDSU, Babich said the connections she made with Microsoft while in college allowed her to find work with the company's partners wherever she moved to. As the children have grown, Babich has set that aside for the time being to focus on taking care of the kids.

"I always had big plans for what I wanted to do, but our lifestyle has altered that at this point," Babich said. "We know what's best for our family and we are just enjoying the ride."

Going from a small town of around 1,000 people to a metropolis like Cleveland or Charlotte, Babich said not having the support system of her hometown family and friends is the biggest challenge.

"With every move, you have to find a new circle of friends that are like family," Babich said. "It's all the same and it's what you make of it."

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