Indianapolis—Cam Fuller caught up with Youngstown State forward Heidi Schlegel. The junior has the Penguins off to their best Horizon League start in program history. Youngstown State will look to stay perfect in league play tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET against Detroit on HLN.
Meet Heidi Schlegel
Hometown: Wapakoneta, Ohio
High School: Wapakoneta
2013-14 Season (Junior)
-Named preseason second team all-league.
-Leads Youngstown State in points (19.7), rebounds (7.2) and steals (1.2) per game.
-Scored 20+ points in 11 of the Penguins’ first 18 games, including a career-high 28 points at UIC on Jan. 11.
2012-13 Season (Sophomore)
-Averaged 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
-Limited to 22 games due to injuries.
-First player off the bench in 20 of 21 contests.
-Scored a season-high 18 points at Cleveland State on Jan. 24.
2011-12 Season (Freshman)
-Averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
-Scored a then career-high 21 points at Ohio on Dec. 9. Went 7-of-12 from the field, made three 3s and was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
-Named to the LMU DoubleTree L.A. Westside Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team. Posted 34 points and 16 rebounds in the two game tournament.
2010-12 Season (Redshirt)
-Played in seven games before suffering a foot injury which sidelined her for the season.
-Granted a medical redshirt, retained four years of eligibility.
After starting out the season 1-6 the team has won eight of its last 11 games, including the first five Horizon League contests. What has been the difference over this stretch?
We’re playing together more as a team, I think at the beginning of the year we were pulling away from coach Barnes while trying to figure out how we are supposed to be playing together. The preseason games are meant to play together and learn how to play with each other and how coach will coach and we’re starting to figure it out with coach Barnes.
How difficult has the learning curve been with so many underclassmen, coupled with the fact that AP Honorable Mention All-American Brandi Brown was lost to graduation?
It was hard and losing Brandi meant everyone had to pick it up and find their own niche and how they fit in with the team and with coach Barnes being new we had to figure out his style of play.
Did you expect the team to be sitting 5-0 in league play, which includes a win over 15-time defending champion Green Bay?
Honestly, not really, all of us are pretty surprised. We’re happy with the way we’re playing and the way we’ve come together as a team. At the beginning of the season, it was rough. I’m just really happy that the team has come together and we’re starting to play together.
After averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, you’re averaging 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season. Where has your game improved the most over the past season?
I’ve just taken it upon myself to work harder and go after the rebounds harder and take it to the basket harder. Last year, that was Brandi Brown’s role; my role was to just score nine points here and there. But I learned a lot from Brandi, I think that just working really hard, harder than I ever have, has changed my game.
What has first-year head coach John Barnes brought to the team that has the Penguins out to its best Horizon League start in program history?
It’s the little things that he harps on and at the beginning we pulled away from that, we didn’t want to do the little things. The girls have realized that we have to do the little things if we want to be good. Obviously, it has shown in our games in the Horizon League so I think coach Barnes has brought out the little things and showed us that we have to take the extra steps if we want to be really good.
You were named the December Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Month, sporting a 3.74 GPA in middle childhood education. How have you been able to balance academics and athletics so well?
Time management, I feel like every athlete says that but it’s definitely true. It is such an honor that I was named the scholar-athlete in December because last semester was my hardest semester with student teaching, taking classes and playing basketball. My thing is when I’m at basketball don’t worry about school, and when I’m doing school work don’t worry about basketball.
As a middle childhood education major, what would your dream job be?
Actually, my dream job is not in teaching. I went to India last summer on a service trip and taught English to little kids. I fell in love with doing that, so I’m going into the master’s program in interdisciplinary communications and I’ll learn how to run a nonprofit organization so my dream job would be to someday to start my own nonprofit organization and help those in third world countries. I’ll be graduating with my undergraduate degree this May and I can still play basketball next season so I’m going to start my master’s next year.
How did you get involved with the service trip in India?
I lead a Bible study group on campus called CCO which stands for Coalition for Christian Outreach and it’s based out of Pittsburgh. I went with that organization which included another student from YSU; there were nine of us total that went from Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Have you had a favorite professor in your time at Youngstown State?
My favorite professor would be Lori Carlson, she was my math professor my first couple years here and she was just an awesome teacher, I learned a lot from her. I’ve told my dad often that if I ever was a teacher I would want to use the techniques she uses. I love her.
What’s it going to take to win the program’s first league championship?
We have to stick together as a team and be out and ready to play every night. We’ve never been in this position before so we have to realize how we got here and why we’re good and be ready because every team is going to come out and play their best against us so we have to get better every day and be ready every day.