Sophomore Amy Schmidt Doubles Her Championship Pleasure
Amy Schmidt had three very appropriate words for her family, friends and supporters upon leaving the court after the doubles final at the Centennial Conference Tennis Championships in April:
“I’m so tired.”
The sophomore had just completed a day in which she played three championship-level tennis matches (winning a singles semifinal before falling in the singles final and then the doubles final) and a year unlike any other in Muhlenberg athletic history, one that made the equally appropriate response “We’re so proud!”
In addition to becoming the first Mule tennis player ever to reach the singles and doubles final of the conference tournament in the same season, Schmidt also was the first Muhlenberg athlete in more than 60 years to play for two conference championship teams in the same academic year.* She was a starting midfielder on the soccer team that captured its third Centennial Conference (CC) title in four years and helped lead the tennis squad to its second crown in three years.
Schmidt was part of two of Muhlenberg’s five CC championships in 2003-04 – the most in school history and the most in the league (see box).
The year did not start out on the right foot for the women’s soccer team, which lost its CC opener to McDaniel. From that point on, however, Schmidt’s teams won 21 straight matches against conference opponents: nine in the soccer regular season, two in the soccer conference tournament and all 10 in the tennis season.
Both teams ended the year ranked in the top 30 in Division III (soccer 23rd and tennis 28th). The soccer team played in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the round of 16, while the tennis team just missed out on a bid.
“The soccer championship was harder to win,” Schmidt noted. “We played a lot of close games. In tennis we had a lot of shutouts. And in soccer, even if you come in first in the regular season, you have to go through the conference tournament.”
Schmidt recorded two goals, one in a key regular-season win against defending champion Johns Hopkins, and two assists in soccer. In tennis, she had a combined 31-7 record in singles and doubles and was ranked 24th in Division III for doubles.
Although Schmidt says her ability in both sports is “around equal,” she felt she played a more important role in the tennis championship. “Soccer is more of a team effort. You have to work well together on the field and communicate with your teammates, but if you make a mistake there are other people to back you up. In tennis, you’re out there on your own.”
Schmidt, who has been playing both sports since she was about 6 years old and competed in a third (basketball) at Schuylkill Valley High School, is a rarity in a time when most athletes choose to specialize in one sport at the collegiate level. That also puts her at a disadvantage when she goes up against opponents who play their sport year-round.
“I know that if I played one sport year-round I could keep improving,” she admitted. “I basically put one sport totally on hold while I play the other, and when I start up again I’m really rusty. It seems I’m just trying to get back to the point where I ended the last season, which is sometimes frustrating.”
Because of the extra work she needs to do to “catch up” for her next sport, Schmidt doesn’t get much of a break between seasons. She doesn’t get one in the classroom, either: Schmidt maintains a high grade-point average while majoring in biology and made the Dean’s List in each of her first four semesters.
How does she do it? “It just takes a lot of hard work and dedication,” she said.
That goes double.
* Note: Division championships are not included. Several athletes played on both the 1989 field hockey and 1990 softball teams, for example, but although softball won its division it was defeated for the conference championship. The same thing happened the following year, only with field hockey falling short of the conference title.