Maggie Schmidt is used to score. Her 28 goals in soccer as a junior ranked her 23rd in the state. The Division I soccer recruit (Loyola of Chicago) also ranked second behind center Lily Esparza in scoring for Boylan in the winter as an all-conference basketball player.
But first-year coach Aaron Westlund asked her to step back as a scorer as a senior and step up everywhere else on the floor.
“If you do the little things, the scoring will take care of itself,” Westlund told Schmidt. “If you are not worried about your scoring but do your job, you will get yours.”
Schmidt wasn’t sure what to think at first.
“I miss it a lot,” Schmidt said of not scoring more early in the season, “but I am being a contributor in other ways on the floor. I talk to all these people, and they tell me that scoring is not all that matters.”
More:Pushing the pace: This junior guard makes Boylan go fast
It’s not just talk any more. Schmidt is showing it every game.
The 5-foot-9 senior has dropped to fourth on the team in scoring (10.7 points), but leads the Titans in assists (3.9) and steals (3.5) and is a close second in rebounds (8.4). And team is winning. Boylan (19-4, 10-2 in the conference) has won 10 of its last 11 games and is second in the NIC-10 behind Hononegah (19-3, 11-0) in the NIC-10.
“Whatever challenge you give her, she delivers on,” Westlund said. “She is doing everything for us, plus leading whatever defense we are running.
“It’s pretty obvious when you play us that she is out there doing so many different things. She’s had a couple of games where she scored six or eight points, but we won convincingly because she had 12 or 13 rebounds and 7 or 8 assists. She is always doing something for the benefit of the team. She is not caring if she scores. That’s why we have four players in double figures.”
Schmidt hit a new gear when she led the Titans to the title in the Boylan’s Christmas tournament, averaging 13.5 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4.8 steals in four games. That included a near quadruple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 10 steals and seven assists in an opening-round win.
“Maggie is so athletic,” Esparza, a 6-2 junior, said. “She can get the ball from anywhere on defense. Those steals are so crucial to our team. And her assists. She is always looking to share the wealth and pass the ball.
“Teams know they can score. They know they can get to the hoop. When teams collapse on her, it opens everyone else up. And while everyone focuses on the scoring, no one is looking at those assists, which come from her.”
“My favorite is getting a lot of steals,” Schmidt said. “I love how once I get a steal, I can use my speed and take off and get a quick, easy layup.”
She likes steals because she still likes scoring best, and steals lead to her scores. But she also embraces her do-everything role and is happy to be the team’s No. 4 scorers behind Esparza (14.1 points), Kaylee Harter (12.5) and Alayna Petalber (11.0).
“It takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders that I don’t have to do a lot of scoring anymore,” Schmidt said. “It shows how close we are as a team. We will make that extra pass. Everyone eats.”
And Schmidt has a role in every part of that meal. Whether it is scoring herself, or assisting, rebounding, or grabbing a steal that lets someone else eat at that scorer’s table.
“As a senior, I don’t have a lot of time left to do things,” she said. “Going into the season I was a little nervous how everything was going to fall together, but this has been the best season ever.”
Contact: [email protected], @matttrowbridge or 815-987-1383. Matt Trowbridge has covered sports for the Rockford Register Star for over 30 years, after previous stints in North Dakota, Delaware, Vermont and Iowa City.