Open Accessibility Menu

What do the University of MN School of Dentistry, the Minnesota Twins, and CentraCare – Willmar have in common? Meet dental student, Maddie Hentges.

Published in Medical Professionals, Dental Care

Originally from New Brighton, Minnesota, Maddie Hentges was a student athlete at Concordia University, St. Paul in 2017. She was majoring in biology while playing lacrosse, where she established multiple career records, while helping the CSP Golden Bears to its first-ever national ranking and being recognized for academic excellence amongst many other accolades.

2017 was also when Maddie began dating her boyfriend, Louie Varland, a St. Paul native and standout college baseball player at Concordia University, St. Paul.

Louie, who has family ties to the Willmar community, played summer collegiate baseball for the Willmar Stingers in 2017 and 2018. He went on to be drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the 2019 MLB draft. In 2022 he was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul Saints and on Sept. 7 he was called up to the majors and made his first pitching debut with the Twins.

Fast forward to fall 2023, and Maddie is now in her last year as a dental student with the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

When it came time to select where she wanted to complete her required community outreach experience, Maddie placed CentraCare Dental Clinic in Willmar as her first choice.

"I knew of Willmar because Louie played summer baseball and had family here," shared Maddie. "Although I had previously never been to Willmar, I have an interest in rural dentistry, and I knew this was a community with a very diverse population."

Maddie learning from Amber Walker, DDS.

Dr. Amber Walker, Director for the CentraCare Dental Clinic, a collaborative effort between CentraCare and the University Minnesota School of Dentistry, explained that the clinic averages around 90 students per year.

"We have six students that rotate through the clinic on a year-round basis; four dental students, and either two hygiene or two dental therapy students," said Walker. "This provides an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience while treating a variety of underserved patients with different oral healthcare needs in a rural, educational setting."
Maddie will participate in the CentraCare Dental Clinic outreach experience for three weeks, from Nov. 6 through Thanksgiving.

"I am learning a lot," said Maddie. "We get to perform many different types of procedures and every day is very busy. We average 4-6 patients a day, and we also work with a lot of children, which I really enjoy."

Dental students live in Willmar for the duration of their rotation. "The apartments we stay in are really nice and within walking distance to the clinic which is located at Rice Memorial Hospital," said Maddie. "As students we've also had the opportunity to visit a variety of businesses and restaurants in Willmar, while also spending time with other area dentists."

Recently, Maddie also learned that her boyfriend's relatives were connected to CentraCare through Mike Schramm, the President for CentraCare – Willmar.

Louie, who is Mike's cousin's son, hadn't been back to Willmar since his time playing baseball for the Stingers. After a surprise marriage proposal to Maddie at an apple orchard the weekend before, Louie decided it would be fun to return for a quick trip to the area where he could spend time with his relatives and visit his now fiancé, Maddie, during her time as a student at the Dental Clinic.

Mike Schramm, Louie Varland, Maddie Hentges, Dr. Amber Walker, Caryn McGeary

"We're very proud of the work our CentraCare Dental Clinic does for the community," said Mike Schramm. "It's great that Maddie chose to come here as a student where we know she will learn from some of the best. It's also been fun to have Louie return for a family visit to catch up on all that's happened with his baseball career and celebrate their recent engagement."

The future looks bright for both Maddie and Louie who plan to wed in the next year. Our hope is that their experiences with CentraCare and Willmar will continue to help shape and inspire them.