Women’s basketball starter leaves team for Morris

Ryan Schuster

When she was a ball girl for the Gophers in sixth grade, Kay Schmidt used to dream of playing college basketball at Minnesota. But now, all those dreams have faded.
The starting Minnesota women’s basketball shooting guard has decided to forgo her final two years of eligibility with the Gophers and transfer to UM-Morris.
“I just decided that it was time for me to do something different,” Schmidt said. “I was burned out on playing basketball, and I decided that I wanted to make a change and go (to UM-Morris).”
Schmidt is enrolled full time at Morris for fall quarter, where she expects to graduate a year earlier than she would in the Twin Cities.
Gophers coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said Schmidt’s choice is unfortunate for the team.
“My reaction to that is I’m very disappointed and saddened by her decision to leave the program,” Hill-MacDonald said. “But, she no longer wants to play basketball, and I respect that decision.”
When Schmidt was in high school, basketball was a big part of her life.
She was a standout at Bloomington Kennedy High School. Schmidt was named all-conference for four years, and all-state her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. In four years, she scored 1,554 points, more points than any male or female in Kennedy’s basketball history.
During 1994-95, her freshmen year at Minnesota, Schmidt saw limited action in 20 of the team’s 27 games and averaged 2.4 points per game. Last season she played in 24 games, starting 11 and averaging just under seven points per game, despite missing part of the year because of an injury.
Schmidt suffered from back spasms throughout the 1995-96 season with the Gophers, missing most of the team’s non-conference schedule and playing sparingly when she returned.
Regardless of her physical problems, Schmidt said she just needed to get away from basketball.
“It wasn’t really my injury or our play last year, although we did have a pretty awful season,” she said. “I just needed a break.”
In her two years with the team, Minnesota was 12-15 in 1994-95 and 4-23 last year; this after going 18-11 and making the NCAA tournament three years ago.
The loss of Schmidt may further hinder the rebuilding of Minnesota’s program.
“Obviously were going to lose a good guard and a scoring threat from our team,” said former teammate and returning center Cheri Stafford. “It will be a change and something we will have to work on replacing.”
Minnesota lost center Sarah Cecka and forward Nancy Shudlick when their eligibility ran out after last season.
Now the Gophers will have to find someone to fill Schmidt’s shoes, while the team still scrambles to improve its program.
Schmidt does not plan to play basketball for Morris in the near future, but she has left the door open for a comeback.
“Right now I’m saying no (to playing basketball for Morris), but come October, I might want to play,” Schmidt said.
Along with that decision, Schmidt is giving up a four-year scholarship to a Big Ten school.
“I guess my dad is going to miss seeing me play, but my parents want me to do what is in my best interest,” she said.
Despite losing the scholarship money, Schmidt said she had to follow her feelings when she made the decision.
“My philosophy is that money doesn’t make happiness,” Schmidt said.
Even though Schmidt will give up her dream of playing Big Ten basketball with the Gophers by transferring, she will realize another: to be a teacher.