How would you like to spend Christmas on the beach?
That’s the probable holiday plans for New Haven graduate Kathleen Scheer, who currently is playing for the Sydney Uni Flames of the Australia Women’s National Basketball League.
“I am definitely missing New Haven, especially around this time of the year,” Kathleen said. “This is the first Christmas away from home which is going to be tough. I miss my family and friends heaps.”
For the educational portion of this column, it’s currently summer in the southern hemisphere, so a beach day isn’t uncommon.
“It is really strange being in summer for Christmas,” Scheer stated. “I would much rather have all the snow, but I guess I’ll try to relax on the beach to get my mind off of missing the cold. I hope everyone back home has a great Christmas and a happy New Year.”
It’s been a rough season so far for Scheer and her Sydney teammates (currently 6-9), but it’s been an amazing experience, she said.
Kathleen averages 8.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game so far for Sydney after getting her start in the South East Australia Basketball League’s Hobart Lady Chargers. She averaged 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game and ranked second in the SEABL with 39 total blocks.
“This league is definitely an adjustment as it is the national league here, but I’m really enjoying it,” Scheer said. “We have a beautiful new stadium. We also have a full-time strength and conditioning coach which is very nice. We work out a lot, but I actually really enjoy it. Sydney is massive, beautiful, but huge.”
A Duke graduate, Scheer is making a solid career in Australia, where she plays year-round. The SEABL and WNBL seasons don’t have a full overlap, which allows players to see action in both circuits.
Kathleen said the WNBL is a popular league, but she’s not besieged every time she goes out.
“It’s pretty popular,” she said. “Sydney has so many professional sports team though, and their men’s basketball team is pretty big here. We have loyal fans and that is cool to see. I don’t have to sign autographs at the store! I sign some after most of our home games, which is neat. I really enjoy that.”
Washington High School graduate Scott Suggs and the Eire Bayhawks of the NBA D-League are still looking for their first win of the season.
Suggs, who played collegiately at the University of Washington, is averaging 14 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game for the New York Knicks’ affiliate in that league.
Scott has started two games and has hit double digits five times, including a 24-point game against Iowa Dec. 6 and a 22-point game against Canton Dec. 13.
Another local pro athlete, Borgia graduate Matt Pickens, is back in an underdog role with the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer.
Pickens is under contract with the Rapids for the 2014 season, but is second on the depth chart at goalkeeper behind Clint Irwin.
Pickens suffered a broken arm during the seventh minute of a 1-1 tie with Real Salt Lake March 16. Irwin played well enough while Pickens recovered that he kept the starting job the rest of the season.
There has been speculation that Pickens could end up elsewhere in MLS next season with a number of other goalkeeping moves taking place. Or he could stay in Denver and fight it out with Irwin for the starting job there.
In the spirit of the season, I’m “giving” the rest of this column to athletes currently competing beyond the high school level. We don’t get the chance to do this often as it’s hard to find the time and space to track everyone down. I know I don’t have everyone who is playing beyond high school, but here are some we’ve been tipped about:
Borgia graduate Tyler Ressel had his best collegiate game Dec. 15 for Lindenwood University.
Playing in a 114-112 double overtime loss to Missouri S&T, Ressel scored 41 points. His career high ranks third in school history for most points in a game behind Brandon Braswell and Earl Austin, who each scored 44 during their time with the Lions.
Ressel also had three assists, two blocked shots, two rebounds and two steals while playing 48 minutes.
So far this season, Ressel has started all 12 games for Lindenwood and leads the team in scoring at 17.3 points per game.
Ressel’s high school teammate, Nathan Scheer, is a senior at Missouri State, where he has played in nine of the team’s first 10 games. Scheer averages 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. He is perfect at the free-throw line, hitting all seven of his attempts.
Scheer was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Bench team and Scholar-Athlete first team last season.
Union graduate Jill Johnston is a freshman with the Maryville University swim team. Johnston is one of the team’s standouts during its inaugural campaign.
Currently, she’s seeing action as a distance swimmer with the Saints.
Jill was a three-sport athlete at Union High School and competed in the summer with the Union Swim Team Squids.
Pacific’s Anna Vogt is one of the top players for the Three Rivers Community College women’s basketball team.
Vogt, a sophomore, has started all 10 games for the Raiders so far this season and averages 17.8 points (35th in NJCAA Division I) and 10.1 rebounds (30th) per game.
After initially signing with the University of Nebraska to play volleyball, Hermann graduate Shelby Winkelmann has been reborn as a basketball player at the University of Central Missouri. She’s a sophomore in eligibility and is hoping to get in a healthy season this year after being sidelined most of 2012-13 due to injury.
So far, Winkelmann has started all nine games for the Jennies, averaging 12.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. She leads the team with 26 assists. Winkelmann averages 24.3 minutes per game, third on the team.
Evan Johnson, a Borgia graduate, is a junior guard at Grinnell College.
Playing for the self-styled fastest team in college basketball which averages 132.2 points per game, Johnson averages 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per contest for the Pioneers.
Bryce Dolan, another Borgia graduate, is a sophomore guard at Illinois Wesleyan, where he averages 6.3 points, 2.1 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game for the Titans.
Borgia graduate Mackenzie Haddox is a sophomore guard for the Westminster College Blue Jays basketball team. She is second on the team in scoring at 11 points per game and also averages 4.1 rebounds per contest. She is second on the team in assists with 17 and leads the squad with 11 steals.
St. James graduate MJ Buschman is a freshman at Mineral Area College, where she averages 4.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Pacific graduate Murray Schwengels has played three games at Iowa Wesleyan. A sophomore, he averages 4.3 points and two rebounds per game.
New Haven’s Eli Fleer and St. James’ Jack Mueller are on the William Woods University roster. Fleer, a sophomore, has played in eight games, staring five. He averages 3.8 points and four rebounds per game. Mueller, a freshman, has yet to play in a varsity game.
Washington’s Luke Schroepfer is a freshman with the Colorado School of Mines basketball team. He has not played yet.
St. Clair graduate Neyko Dominguez appears to be redshirting at Evangel.
And a couple of items about spring athletes:
Borgia graduate Trent Leimkuehler, a sophomore at Jefferson College, will continue his baseball career at Saint Louis University in 2015.
Another Borgia graduate, Tony Helfrich, is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s still planning to play baseball at Rockhurst University. Fellow Borgia graduate Grant Eckelkamp is there as well.
Special thanks to Craig Vonder Haar who helped me to track down a lot of these athletes.