Schumann is Pilot's All-Area Player of Year

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Newell-Fonda junior Jennifer Schumann is clearly in love with basketball.

Just a few days after the Lady Mustangs lost in the region finals to Rock Valley, Schumann and other players who'll be back next year were in the weight room doing agility drills.

"We want to keep getting better and get back to state," Schumann said Tuesday night.

She'll be playing AAU basketball this summer with the Iowa Lightning, along with fellow northwestern Iowa players Brittany Lange of Sac City and Afton Ringenberg of state champ Rockwell City-Lytton.

"I've always just loved to play basketball and I want to get as close to my potential as I can," Schumann said. "Whenever I drive my car, there's always a basketball in the back seat just in case there's an open court or open gym."

That type of work ethic among basketball players is a common thread running within boys and girls players in Newell-Fonda, basketball territory for sure.

And it's led both girls and boys teams to success. The past two seasons, the Lady Mustangs, with Schumann leading the way, have gone 45-6 under second year coach Dick Jungers

The Newell-Fonda girls beat Farragut at substate in March of last year before losing in the first round at state to Cardinal Strict of Keokuk. This season, the Mustangs finished 23-3 after losing to a talented Rock Valley team in the region finals.

Newell-Fonda was 15-1 in Northwest Conference play each of the past two years, sharing the title with Sac City this past season.

Along the way, Schumann was a dominating scorer and rebounder, a six-footer capable of shooting the medium range jumper and putting the ball on the floor.

And clearly, Schumann is driven to get better.

"I still have a lot of work to do," she said. "I need to learn different post moves so other teams have to vary their game plans. And I can always be a better shooter and rebounder."

Schumann, a 6-footer, was plenty good at both this past season. She averaged 17 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per contest, shot 57 percent from the floor and 68 percent from the line.

"Jennifer just has a real knack for being at the right place at the right time," Jungers said Tuesday night. "She has the ability to knock down the short-range jumper and she's good off the dribble and down low. She's an outstanding defensive player, and when you put all that in a six-foot package, you've got yourself one good player."

But Schumann isn't just satisfied with being good, and that goes for the other sports she competes in.

She was an all-conference middle hitter for the Mustangs' volleyball team this fall, is a two-year starter at first base for the Newell-Fonda softball team and is even trying track this spring.

"I'm going to give the high jump a shot," she said with a chuckle. "But I also want to run in the distance races."

Meanwhile, all year long, Schumann is one busy high schooler. After each track practice thus far this spring, she hits the weight room for lifting and agility drills, then works on her shooting and post moves in the gym.

"After that, I finally go home," added Schumann. "Really, I don't know what I'd' do without sports."

Jennifer's mother Jayne played six on six basketball for Newell "back in the day," as Jennifer says, and her father Dale also played for the Mustangs.

But Jennifer says she was influenced most heavily by four cousins, three of whom - Jason Sarchet, and Chris and Corey Carlton - played on Newell-Fonda state championship boys teams in the 1990's.

"I learned a lot from them and was just always around basketball," Schumann said. "I've been playing ever since I could pick up a basketball."

In junior high, Schumann played for a Newell-Fonda traveling team dubbed the "Pink Flamingos." On that team were current Mustang players Kristen Culp, Andrea Larsen and Destiny Sievers.

"Andrea and I were always the tallest players on the court, so It was fun to get some mismatches under the basket," Schumann remembered.

Nevertheless, if basketball came easy for Schumann, she still had to work hard at it.

"There were times when I thought I'd never play on varsity or that somebody else would take my spot, but I relied on my family a lot for support," she said. "There are times during the season when you get down but I'm lucky to have strong family ties to help me get through those down times."

Meanwhile, Schumann cites Jungers and Newell-Fonda boys basketball coach Paul Loos as her biggest basketball influences.

"They are always pushing me to get better - we have such great coaches at Newell-Fonda," Schumann said. "I remember Coach Loos telling me once after they yelled at me that I only had to worry if they stopped yelling after I did something wrong. That would mean they'd given up on me."

That's not likely to happen anytime soon for any coach Schumann plays for.

She's already drawn interest from several colleges, including Fort Hays State in Kansas, Simpson College, Northwestern College of Iowa and Liberty College in Lynchburg, Va.

"I definitely want to keep playing basketball," Schumann said.

"I want to keep playing as long as I can and keep getting better."

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