Santa Fe's Schmidt going to UMKC
ALMA -- From the time she was a toddler, Santa Fe senior Holly Schmidt knew that volleyball was the sport for her.
"My mom (Teresa) played. I've always been around it," she said Thursday after signing an NCAA Division I letter-of-intent with the University of Missouri at Kansas City. "I love playing. You can take charge. It's one thing you can control."
So while Schmidt lettered in both basketball and softball during her prep career, her focus remained fixed on the net -- which was good news for the Lady Chiefs, since the dominating 6-foot-4 middle blocker led the team to three straight appearances in the MSHSAA Class 1 Championships.
Santa Fe never won the state title, though, losing in the finals twice -- to New Haven in 2005 and Winona last year.
"It was a huge let-down not getting it the first time," Schmidt recalled. "We were sure we'd get it the next year.
"Nerves got to us both times," she explained. "I can't complain. Everybody left everything they had out there."
Yet, despite the disappointment, Schmidt has far more fond memories than bitter ones.
"All the things we accomplished that nobody thought we would," she observed. "It's amazing that we've got three girls, possibly four, who are signed to play volleyball out of the senior class."
Ashton Smith and second-team all-stater Paula Tieman have already hooked up with Missouri Valley College and Michelle Aversman -- like Schmidt, a two-time first-team all-state selection -- also plans to attend UMKC with hopes of continuing in athletics.
With her looming presence up front, Schmidt was Santa Fe's focal point. Even with the talent around her, that's understandable. Schmidt ranks in the top 12 in Missouri history in career kills (1,038), kills per game (3.98), aces (146) and aces per game (0.56) -- although she played only sparingly as a freshman.
Her ability to pound the ball, and to defend against swings, is what impressed Lady Kangaroos interim assistant coach Christy Elder during Schmidt's junior season. When Geno Frugoli came over from Baylor to take over the struggling program last year, he agreed.
"It's something I've wanted to do since I was a freshman," Schmidt said about landing a full scholarship at a major college. "For a while it looked like it wouldn't happen, but everything fell into place."
For his part, Frugoli admits to being "excited" about signing Schmidt.
"She gives our team some much-needed size and strength, and she's a quality person," he stated in the school's official press release. "I consider her a top player in the Kansas City region."
"I really think she'll be a success," remarked Santa Fe head coach Stacy Thomas. "It will be a learning experience the first year, playing the right side or left, but she'll pick things up quickly."
What the Lady Chiefs may miss more than Schmidt's talent is her leadership, a quality she hopes to be able to use in college.
"I want to be the leader I've been here," asserted Schmidt, who plan to major in pre-med with an eye towards a career in physical therapy.
Although UMKC is in the city, it's a "big school with small-time girls," Schmidt said. It's also close to home, which means the support of her family will be proximate -- especially important considering the bond between mother and daughter.
"I can tell her how I feel about anything," Schmidt said. "She's always supported me [and] pushed me to do my best."
Hopefully, for Schmidt the best is yet to come.