Fox Valley Female Athlete of the Year: Burlington Central's Kathryn Schmidt
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is presenting our 2019-20 high school athletes of the year. We continue today with the Fox Female Athlete of the Year, Burlington Central's Kathryn Schmidt.
Four years ago Kathryn Schmidt entered the same Burlington Central school her parents graduated from, joining girls volleyball and basketball programs that had enjoyed tremendous success but also hit hard by graduation.
A lot to live up to. Or as Schmidt put it, "There's pros and cons," of parents Mike and Jill both teaching in the district and being so well known in the school community.
Kat Schmidt left her own mark at Burlington Central, finishing those four years by scoring more points than any boy or girl basketball player. She was a four-year starter in both volleyball and basketball and also a standout in the classroom, an Illinois State Scholar who finished 11th in her class.
Schmidt is this year's Daily Herald Fox Valley Female Athlete of the Year.
"Thinking back to when I was a freshman, it seems like yesterday basically," Schmidt said. "I was lucky to play with my best friends all four years and such great competition and we achieved so much. It was such a great experience."
Schmidt said it was her parents who encouraged her to continue playing two sports in high school. She'll play basketball next year at Lewis University.
"I think volleyball helped a lot with my jumping and working those different muscle groups," Schmidt said. "It not only was fun but it was helping me with basketball as well. I just always loved playing volleyball and loved my teammates. I'm definitely going to miss it."
Schmidt played middle blocker on the volleyball team. She led the Rockets in blocks and was third in kills.
"As the smallest school in our conference, our athletic programs wouldn't survive if we didn't have athletes like Kat who play multiple sports, and do so at a high level," Rockets girls basketball coach Collin Kalamatas said.
Sam Mainzer, recently named the Burlington Central varsity volleyball coach, was an assistant while Schmidt played.
"Kat was a team player, always lending a helping hand to her teammates that would struggle through conditioning or drills at practice," Mainzer said. "Her enthusiasm and drive to be successful rubbed off on the teams she played on throughout her volleyball career."
As much as Schmidt enjoys volleyball, she hit another gear when the calendar flipped to November and the basketball season began.
An All-Area selection all four seasons, Schmidt said her love for basketball developed playing in the Hampshire Park District, attending Burlington Central games with her dad, and joining the Burlington Blast feeder program and meeting late founder, Lisa Pryor.
"Lisa being such a great role model and leader really helped instill that passion for basketball," Schmidt said. "Both my parents pushed me to be the best version of myself. It translated to my brother (Zac, a junior) and I and our work ethic."
Other than an ankle injury that sidelined her early in November, Schmidt enjoyed a senior season with one big moment after another. She hit a long buzzer-beater to hand Dundee-Crown its only Fox Valley Conference loss, she broke the school scoring record against Plano, she helped the Rockets win their first regional title in four years, and in her final game she scored 29 points in a narrow sectional loss to Sycamore.
Schmidt averaged 16 points and 7.7 rebounds. She leaves as the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,697 points.
"Winning a regional championship, that was really special especially on our home court in front of our community," Schmidt said.
Unsure of what she's going to major in at Lewis, Schmidt leaves big shoes to fill at a school that means so much to her family.
"We're very proud of Kat," Kalamatas said. "She is who we want the young girls in our program and the future Rockets to look up to. Someone who is a great teammate, plays multiple sports, and still makes time to play basketball at an extremely competitive level. She's made an impact on many people in our community."