Jasper's Schwenk balances basketball, farm lifeDecember 5, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — The parallels between farm work and basketball might not be readily clear to most, but one principle ties the two together for Jasper junior guard Hannah Schwenk — they both require their fair share of time and attention to be successful.
“You got to have a good work ethic,” said Schwenk, who tends to the animals on her family’s farm and shows livestock when she’s not doing school work or at practice. “It’s knowing how to balance everything. It’s knowing when to go where and knowing when I have to focus and be locked in with the sport and everything else. You have to keep your focus.”
Schwenk has been using the early portion of the Wildcats’ season to translate the focus and effort she uses on the farm into her starting varsity role for the Wildcats. It’s a bit of a new coat for her after spending last season with the JV team, but knowing she has the confidence of coach Jessica Mehringer has made it easier for her to fit into her spot on the floor.
“This is my first time on the varsity level getting major minutes, so it’s a little different,” said Schwenk. “Just knowing I’m that player that she thinks can be a role player, that really helps. It gives me more confidence to be that player that helps her teammates out.”
“Hannah is an athlete, super smart, great kid,” added Mehringer, who said that Schwenk's versatility and defensive skill set more than justify her elevation into Jasper’s starting lineup.
Mehringer also commended the way Schwenk channels her blue collar attitude into the work she puts in on the court.
“All of those reasons make it easy to like somebody," she said. "She’s a great teammate and works her butt off. She has a get-things-done kind of attitude.”
She touts more than just Schwenk's work ethic. Mehringer also sees Schwenk as the kind of player that could develop into that pillar of consistency that teams need to be successful. Schwenk doesn’t worry about getting her numbers, but her ability to score from the perimeter, rebound and defend make her an invaluable factor for the Wildcats in every competitive situation.
“She’s a steady presence for us,” Mehringer said. “She's not flashy. She just works hard and does all the little stuff you want all your kids doing. There may be some kids we might flip out for somebody else for a matchup or something like that. That’s not going to be the case with Hannah. I see her continuing to be that steady presence.”
Schwenk said it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows when it comes to either tending to the farm animals or working on her game, but being part of a team offers her a bit more support than the pigs in the pen. Schwenk is grateful to be part of a unit that shares the same desire and vision to be successful, which makes the tedious times a bit easier to endure.
“It helps a lot knowing we all have a passion to play this sport and want to be here,” Schwenk said. “ Sometimes basketball gets tiring. Day in and day out, you have practice. Knowing that we all have the same thing that motivates us, it helps us come together. You have to be focused and maintain that passion — same thing with livestock.”
Schwenk is focused on adjusting to the speed of varsity play and doing whatever it takes to maximize her game for the Wildcats. Whether that means facilitating, knocking down open shots or holding her ground for a stop, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the team needs, Schwenk is there to deliver.
“I like to be a role player,” she said. “I don’t care if I get the points — just make the team better.”
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