In its essence, basketball is a beautiful game, with almost limitless opportunities to employ individual skills for a united cause. While players who fill up the stat sheets naturally draw most of the attention, there is a special place, too, for those who do the little things right, and it can bring a real sense of satisfaction. Indeed, players may not notice that special feeling of fulfillment until it's suddenly taken away.
Last year he had to face that cruel twist of fate, 10 games into his junior season, when his knee buckled in a 80-66 loss to Hamline University on Dec. 10.
He wasn't initially sure of the extent of the injury. "It swelled up right away and just didn't feel right," Lindahl said. "I had a MRI a couple of days later and had surgery January 5."
Shelved for the season, his role changed instantly from major contributor to a cheerleader of sorts. His options were limited, pout or get busy getting better, and he chose the high road. Following successful surgery performed by Dr. Howard Berglund, a former starting quarterback for the Cobbers, Lindahl found some ready partners, on his comeback trail.
He dove head first into a taxing rehabilitation program designed by the Concordia training staff, and he remains grateful for their help and support. "Our training staff was awesome, especially Anna Bratsch and Don Bruenjes."
Still, the down time was difficult to accept. "It was tough, I played three sports in high school so I wasn't used to sitting. The guys did a good job helping me feel that I was still part of the team, but it was definitely different. Thankfully I got back and was able to suit up for the first game this year. It's great to be out there again."
When he was ready at last to rejoin his teammates this winter, he was apprehensive, but eager. "It was like sticking your toe in the water, testing it, but it felt good and after a couple of weeks I was back. Overall I'm almost where I need to be. I have to work on my lift some, but my shot has probably improved."
It took some time to return to basketball shape, but he quickly rediscovered the joy that comes with simply playing, doing the little things and helping your teammates elevate their games and enhance opportunities for winning.
"Our first goal is to make the playoffs, then win the MIAC tournament," Lindahl said.
Lindahl and the Cobbers christened MIAC play with a 73-65 victory over Bethel University on Wednesday night, and Lindahl played 29 minutes in a vital relief role - mostly in the second half. More importantly, he provided some much needed reliability.
"It feels good to make some solid plays," said Lindahl. "You just need to get some rebounds, hit the open shots with no turnovers."
Head coach Rich Glas is delighted to have Lindahl back. "Aaron is a very versatile player and very smart. It doesn't take him long to pick up assignments. He's got a great love for the game, too, and you don't always find that. He also brings an intensity that we really need, and his leadership is important.
"He's still getting back into game condition, but he's already had a couple of big games for us. We have the luxury of two seniors---Aaron and Andrew Martinson---coming off the bench, and they give us a big lift. When they come in they make us better."
After five appearances Lindahl ranks second in the club in scoring, 12.0 ppg and third in field goal percentage, .548. He has delivered his usual amount of hustle and grit as well.
A three-sport letterman at Benson High School in football, basketball and track, Lindahl earned all-section and all-conference honors in basketball. He was saluted as the Most Valuable Player in the West Central Conference.
"I came up for a football visit, and just liked the feel of the campus," Lindahl said. "It's a real close campus, and I came from a small hometown so I liked that. Everybody knows everybody. With coach (Rich) Glas coming in, that was a factor as well. I was thinking about playing football and basketball at Concordia, but I decided to stick with basketball."
"I played mostly varsity games as a freshman. We had a great group of guys, and they made the transition from high school very easy. It's a big jump, but they did everything they could to make it easy for us."
"My sophomore year we made the playoffs. We were really balanced with q lot of depth. I mostly came off the bench as a backup point guard and backup wing, but I started a little bit late in the year. I was starting last year until I got hurt."
Lindahl appeared in just 10 games last winter and averaged 6.2 ppg and 2.6 rpg.
Lindahl is majoring in Elementary Education, and a career of teaching and coaching is appealing. He already has a wealth of experiences he would be more than willing to pass on.