Battling aches, pains: Schmeling draining 3’s while dealing with juvenile rheumatoid arthritisAt this time of the season, nearly every player traveling to the Class B state girls basketball tournament has its aches and pains.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
At this time of the season, nearly every player traveling to the Class B state girls basketball tournament has its aches and pains.
Beach senior forward Kari Schmeling, however, has been dealing with daily aches and pains since the season began.
Schmeling, who was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 4 years old, said some days are tougher than others, but she just has to battle through them.
“Sometimes it affects my hands and they will be stiff and sore,” Schmeling said. “Some days my knees, ankles and wrists are sorer, but I kind of just try to get through it.
“I’m pretty much used it by now. Sometimes I forget about it. When I play, I just put it out of my mind and just go out there and play.”
This week, the Buccaneers are traveling to their fourth Class B state tournament in as many years.
In the past three years, Beach has won one state title in 2010 and finished fifth and third place in the last two years, respectively. The Buccaneers begin tournament action against Napoleon at noon Thursday at the Fargodome.
This is the first year, Schmeling has received substantial playing time. The senior guard has come off the bench going 20 of 65 (31 percent) from 3-point range during the regular season.
“At the beginning of the season, I would get a lot more nervous than I am now,” Schmeling said. “The other players were stronger and faster than teams I had been playing. Now it’s gotten better and I’ve gotten used to it.”
Schmeling shined during the postseason at the District 13 and Region 7 tournaments. She averaged six points per game and scored a game-high 11 against Beulah on March 11.
“When she goes into the game, she knows she has the green light,” Beach head coach Bob Waldal said. “Yet, she doesn’t want to force shots either. I’m tickled to death when she rattles the net. When I see a smile on her face, I love it.”
Battling juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Schmeling must take a shot of Enbrel every week to help lessen the pain. However, she said it’s been her support system that continues to motivate her. She looks up to her mom, Karen, coaches and teammates for support.
Schmeling knows when her name — or any of the others who come off the bench — is called, she has to perform. And the Buccaneers usually don’t skip a beat.
Beach’s bench has supplied 14.8 points per game during the team’s five postseason games. The team’s highest output was its 25-point performance against Hazen on March 12.
“It’s great to able to play with a bunch of people and knowing that everyone can bring something to court is great,” Beach junior guard Bailey Waldal said. “If we have a starter come out, we all know how to play with each other and we have really good chemistry.”
Bob Waldal said the biggest asset Schmeling brings to the team is she knows her limitations. Nonetheless, Bob Waldal said she battles night-in and night-out.
“She’s been a little warrior,” he said. “When coaching her, we have to pick her spots. I know Kari is giving it her best shot. I know she is.
“She knows what she can do and she knows what she can’t do. We call that playing within ourselves. She knows her limits, probably more than anybody.”