Vernon's Schuetze leaves TRU legacy
Diane Schuetze’s college career at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is now over. She leaves as the greatest women’s basketball player the school has ever seen.
But she won’t be the one to tell you that.
Schuetze, a Vernon Panther grad, played five years at centre for the WolfPack, and according to her head coach Scott Reeves, she is the major reason TRU turned around a struggling program.
Even though her days playing at the Tournament Capital Center are gone, she is still hard at work. Schuetze is now focusing on establishing her professional career.
“I have been talking with a few clubs in Australia and some agents in Europe,” said Reeves. “It’s a lot of work trying to send somebody to a pro league. You have to build up a serious base with the teams.”
As it stands, Australia appears to be the destination for Schuetze. The South West Metro Pirates have had the most contact with her. They play in the Queensland League in Brisbane. Europe is still a possibility one day down the road.
The journey began once Schuetze got to Vernon Secondary and played with the Under 16 and U17 provincial teams. She had the opportunity to go down to the U.S. and play against girls her own size.
Reeves was the head coach at TRU when he recruited Schuetze. He was faced with the trouble of trying to bring players to a new and unsuccessful program.
Prior to 2007, TRU basketball teams played in the PacWest division of the Canadian College Athletic Association. By 2008, TRU had transitioned into Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) when Schuetze agreed to come play for Reeves.
“We were new to the CIS and we just came off a 1-22 record,” said Reeves. “I was able to sell her on the fact that we were moving from a small college to a big program. She had the chance to be part of building a program that could be very special.”
Schuetze started in all but two games her first year. The team went through a sudden change from 2007-09. The ‘Pack’s offensive and defensive efficiency improved, rebounding rates rose and blocks doubled.
“Diane had immediate impact on our team,” said Reeves. “We never had a true centre before she came here.”
Schuetze experienced great personal success that year, averaging 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per game. She became the first TRU player to be named to the CIS West All-Rookie Team.
“My first year was very eye-opening,” said Schuetze. “I remember thinking, ‘wow, this league is intense.’”
Schuetze’s second and third years showed steady growth in every aspect of the game. Her numbers improved and the Pack won more games.
“My second and third year kind of just blend together.”
Schuetze’s parents Cynthia and Carl live in Vernon, but only from the late spring until early fall season. They spend the rest of the year down in Arizona escaping the cold. They get the chance to sunburn in the middle of February, but they don’t get to see their daughter play as much.
“We catch every game online. We try to make it up to Kamloops for a few games also,” said Carl.
Schuetze announced her presence with authority in 2011-12. She led the WolfPack to their first non-losing season (9-9) and more importantly to the playoffs.
Schuetze also put together her best statistical year. She led the CIS West in scoring with 18.6 points per game and was third in rebounding with 8.9 boards per game. She was named a Canada West first team All-Star and was a second team All-Canadian. She was named CIS West female athlete of the week on multiple occasions and was CIS female athlete of the week once. At the end of the season, Schuetze was named TRU female athlete of the year.
Schuetze credits her remarkable year to hard work during the offseason.
“I focused a lot of training, running and gym time in the offseason. I had more balance in my off-season training.”
In the 2012-13 campaign, she was the top rebounder in the league with 11.3 per game. Schuetze also ranked third in scoring with 17.8 points per game, third in blocked shots with 1.5 per game and seventh in field goal percentage at 53.2 per cent.
She was finally given the nod as a first team CIS All-Canadian and CIS female athlete of the week once. Schuetze led the WolfPack to their best regular season record of 15-7 and their second straight playoff appearance.
Graduating players Jen Ju and Tracy Kocs are quick to point out Schuetze’s physical improvements.
“Her development in all aspects of her game is quite obvious,” said Ju. “Her footwork is fantastic. She sets hard screens and does a great job a rolling to the rim.”
Added Kocs: “She has great hands for her position. She can go to work down low in a double team or bounce outside and jack up a three.”
People who know Schuetze are impressed by how much she has progressed as a person during her five years.
“Diane’s a humble and respectful person,” Ju said. “She is a strong individual who drives people to be better.”
She finished with 1,399 points, more than doubling the next closest WolfPack player. She has made 411 free throws, also more than doubling the next closest. Schuetze pulled down a very impressive 813 rebounds. Second place in WolfPack rebounding isn’t even in the same zip code.
She put up the best numbers by any player during her era in the CIS West.
Despite all the success, the smiling Schuetze hasn’t had a chance to reflect on her career just yet.
“Maybe one day down the road I’ll look back and think, ‘oh well, that was pretty cool.’”
She graduates this spring with a bachelor of tourism management with a minor in human resources.