The transition from high school basketball to university basketball can be a challenge for most players. But imagine going from one of the premier programs in the province to one that is in a massive rebuilding mode.
That is what faced Langley’s Luca Schmidt.
In three seasons as the starting point guard on the Brookswood Bobcats senior girls basketball team — as a Grade 10 player, she played up a level instead of junior — the ’Cats advanced to the B.C. 3A provincial semifinals all three times.
And while the team may not have won the provincial crown in that span, Brookswood was always in the mix among the upper echelon of elite teams in the province.
That’s why it was a 180 degree turn when she arrived on the Trinity Western University campus following high school graduation.
“It was definitely a change,” she admitted. “At Brookswood, we weren’t used to losing (so) I definitely took winning for granted.”
“So at first at Trinity, it brought me down a little bit.”
But rather than let the losing deter her, Schmidt realized she had to up her game.
“It just made me realize that the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) is an extremely competitive league,” she said.
“Everyone in the league are really strong players (and) it definitely made me work a lot harder.”
“I was so tiny, so skinny, I was getting pushed around by these fifth year guards, so I really had to work hard in the weight room and figure out my strengths on the court.”
Schmidt played spot duty as a CIS rookie, averaging just under 13 minutes a game. But since her sophomore season, she has run the offence as the Spartans’ starting point guard.
And while the results in terms of wins and losses have been slow to develop, the team is showing marked improvement.
The team enters the weekend with a 3-7 record in Canada West conference play, which while is still below .500, does include a victory over Victoria and two wins against Winnipeg, a pair of schools Trinity Western has traditionally struggled against.
“Our program is just starting to turn the corner,” said coach Cheryl Jean-Paul. “It has been a few years of trying to make something and change the direction of our program and Luca has been a big part of that.”
“She has become assertive. She has embodied what our culture stands for and has done a great job of trying to help teach the younger athletes what we would like our program to look like and what it takes to have success.”
Schmidt was one of the first players Jean-Paul targeted in recruitment when she took the Spartans head coaching job.
“Watching her in high school, I knew she was someone we could use to build the program,” Jean-Paul said.
“She is a great competitor and decision-maker on the floor and creates things for other people.”
“Her teammates just love to look up to her and I think she is one of those leaders that people will follow without doubting where she will take them.”
And while most players on the court relish being the scorer, Schmidt is content directing traffic and setting her teammates up for a score instead.
“My whole basketball career, I have never been a shooter or a scorer,” Schmidt explained.
“Creating and getting assists has been something I have been focused on.”
Schmidt has been playing point guard pretty much ever since she first signed up for basketball in Grade 4 as part of the Friday Night Hoops program run out of Brookswood Secondary by long-time coach Neil Brown.
Schmidt said back then, her mom — who was coached at UBC by Brown — thought she should be a forward as she thought her daughter would have some size.
Schmidt is five-foot-seven.
“I am tall for a girl but not in the basketball world,” she said with a laugh.
“He trained me to be a point guard.”
“A typical Brookswood kid,” Brown said in describing Schmidt. “She was a hard worker, in the gym every morning.”