Schmelzer puts pro soccer dream on hold to continue basketball career

Harlem grad says she could not pass up opportunity for one more season
McKaela Schmelzer puts her pro soccer dream on hold to take one more year of basketball...
McKaela Schmelzer puts her pro soccer dream on hold to take one more year of basketball eligibility at UW-Milwaukee.(WIFR)
Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 7:00 PM CST
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MILWAUKEE (WIFR) - McKaela Schmelzer has always wanted to play professional soccer, but after the NCAA offered up one more year of eligibility to its athletes, that dream had to be put on hold.

The Harlem grad wanted to play one more season of basketball.

“I couldn’t leave something that I know is good for something that I don’t know what it’s going to look like,” said Schmelzer.

The unknown is a scary thought for Schmelzer.

She knows her goal is to play professional soccer one day, she just does not know what that road will look like.

But when gifted one more year of basketball at UW-Milwaukee, she did not want her future self to ask, “What if?”

“Obviously it’s not easy, but it’s something I really enjoy,” Schmelzer said. “It would be hard for me years down the road to regret this decision so I couldn’t pass it up.”

The Harlem grad is benefiting from the added focus on her hoops season. Through eight games, Schmelzer is averaging two more points per game than in her first three years with the Panthers.

She definitely notices a difference.

“In past years, in my head I felt since I was missing out on all these hours, I just needed to keep doing more and keep watching this,” said Schmelzer. “This year, it’s been nice because I’ve just done what I had to do and what the team is doing.”

Schmelzer is all about the team.

Soccer remains in the backseat, but she will return to playing with her club in the spring and summer in hopes that she will be in form come 2022.

“For me, since there are so many unknowns, I just need to do as much as I can on my end to keep my foot on the ball, keep my conditioning up and a lot of that will come in the spring and summer,” Schmelzer said. “Everything will fall into place. It’s a lot about who you know and just me as a player, what I can give and how hard I can work and improve my game.”

Those people Schmelzer knows are past coaches who tell her there is a path to the pros. Whether that is overseas or with the NWSL, she says her time will come.

“We’ll see what happens,” said Schmelzer. “I’m trying to focus on basketball and I’ve had some talks here and there, but we’ll really focus on it next year for sure.”

One thing that has eluded Schmelzer in her Milwaukee career is a Horizon League basketball championship. She did win two of those with the soccer team in 2018 and 2019.

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