Abbie Schmidt, a 2020 graduate of Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School, recently signed a commitment letter to continue her volleyball career at Beloit College.
Schmidt started playing volleyball in the second grade and never looked back.
“I’ve been doing that for a really long time,” she said.
Her volleyball career wasn’t limited to just playing for her school either.
“I’ve been year-round since eighth grade with like maybe two weeks off each year,” she said.
Indeed, the nation-wide sports shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused Schmidt’s longest absence from the sport in some time.
“This COVID thing with the long break has been interesting,” she said.
Asked what she loved most about playing volleyball, Schmidt pointed to the joy of being part of a team.
“I love the camaraderie and the friendships you make from it,” she said.
Schmidt also appreciates the thrill of competition.
“It’s so competitive and the energy is so high all the time,” she said. “I love this sport so much.”
While she’s primarily played as setter, Schmidt said she’s played every position on the court during her volleyball career.
“Primarily, I’ve been a setter since I started playing, but I’ve been on-and-off a DS (defensive specialist) if they need me to pass,” she said. “I’ve played every position, but mostly its been setter or DS.”
This versatility and willingness to play where needed is what stood out about Schmidt for PBL Volleyball Coach Lindsay Stalowy.
“Abbie is one of the most versatile players we’ve had come through the PBL volleyball program in the past six years,” she said. “She could do a little bit of everything.”
Stalowy recalls bringing Schmidt up to play on the varsity team in her sophomore year and how, during the annual discussion with varsity players about where Stalowy saw them fitting in and their playing time, Schmidt was willing to play any position on the floor.
“The very first thing she said to me was ‘Coach, I don’t care where you put me, I just want to play,’” she said. “You don’t hear that very often from kids.”
Oftentimes, Stalowy said, players come in with a position in mind that they want to play right off the bat and they can be upset if that position is changed, but Schmidt was willing to put the needs of the team ahead of herself.
“Just by her saying that, I knew she was going to be a special player,” Stalowy said.
Stalowy isn’t surprised she’s going on to play at the next level.
“It’s no surprise to me that she is going to play volleyball at the next level,” she said. “I know that she will go on and do great things.”
The friendships she’s made as a result playing volleyball and the victories they won together are what stick out in Schmidt’s mind when asked to reflect on her career.
“High school volleyball’s just been really fun,” she said. “All the friendships I’ve made from it. Like the girls who have graduated in the past, I came up with them. Conference champs this last year as a senior was pretty awesome.”
Another recent milestone Schmidt is proud of is winning a tournament in St. Louis with the Prime Time Volleyball Club in Champaign.
Schmidt said they traveled to St. Louis for big Presidents’ Day Tournament in February and faced a large pool of competitors but came out on top.
“We ended up winning the whole thing out of like 75 other teams,” she said. “It was really cool.”
Asked why she chose Beloit College to continue her playing career, Schmidt said the school met all her needs and she’s looking forward to playing for them.
“The school is fantastic. It’s going to set me up for anything I want to do in the future and the coach is amazing,” she said.
Schmidt said she’s planning on majoring in biology at Beloit.
Looking back on her high school career, Schmidt said she’s loved her time at PBL and the opportunities she’s had to learn from her coach.
“I really loved my time playing at PBL,” she said. “I love Coach Stalowy so much. She’s done so much for me as a player.”
Schmidt said the same was true for her time with the Prime Time Volleyball Club.
“They’ve grown me so much as a person and as a player,” she said.