Steph Schueler’s basketball career at Lincoln was an impressive one.
The first four-year letter winner in the history of Sioux Falls basketball (boys and girls), she still owns the Class AA girls state tournament record for points in a single game (43) and ultimately graduated as the Patriots’ all-time leader in points, assists and steals.
“There’s no way that I could have had the scoring title if it wasn’t for my teammates,” said Schueler, who now resides in Colorado. “I could go down the list, but if it wasn’t for my teammates and all of us together, and our camaraderie, I couldn’t have done it. You can’t do anything alone. That’s what I believe. It’s a complete team effort.”
In 1984, Schueler, then a sophomore, helped the Patriots reach the state championship game for the first time in program history. That game pitted Lincoln against Brookings, which featured Amy Mickelson, better known as one of the “Twin Towers” who anchored the Bobcats in the mid-80s.
Over 30 years have passed since Brookings claimed the ’84 championship over Lincoln. On Tuesday night, Amy Mickelson Brecht’s daughter, Anna Brecht, broke Schueler’s all-time scoring record just eight games into her senior season.
“For Anna to be in Sioux Falls now and to break this record, I think it’s pretty special,” Lincoln coach Matt Daly said. “It’s been standing for 31 years, that kind of tells you how special of a player Steph Schueler was for that kind of record to be there for three decades.”
“She was phenomenal,” Mickelson Brecht said of Schueler, later adding that the two met again in college, this time at a tournament in Hawaii when Mickelson Brecht was a sophomore at the University of Washington.
Schueler’s journey since graduating from Lincoln has taken her across the globe, brought her back home and had her traveling around the nation.
After high school, Schueler headed to the University of Iowa, where she helped the Hawkeyes to three straight Big Ten championships, a stint as the top-ranked team in the nation and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. A first-team All-Big Ten pick as a senior, she finished her collegiate career ranked third in Iowa history for career assists and steals.
With no women’s professional basketball league in the US, Schueler headed overseas to continue her career, spending time in Luxembourg and Belgium. She also coached the Cadet Belgian National Team and ran a co-educational basketball school.
“I just tried to bring a different flavor for the game, something different from what they see over there,” Schueler said of running the school. “I enjoyed that. I tried to do a little bit of everything over there instead of just playing basketball.”
Thyroid cancer cut her playing career short and forced her to move back home to Minnesota, where she completed treatment and got back into the game, entering the coaching ranks as an assistant at the University of Missouri.
Schueler has since made stops at Western Illinois, the University of Buffalo, Stetson, Southern Miss and, most recently, Air Force, where she spent four seasons under Andrea Williams before stepping away in 2015 to become a mother, giving birth to twins – Brody and Hadly – who will turn two in February.
“The first year was really strange, being at home and not on the go. It took me a while to adjust, but I’m just loving the different part of my life that’s going on,” Schueler said of being a mother. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve beat cancer, I’ve played for (coach Vivian) Stringer (at Iowa) and gone through some tough roads. This is right up there, but it’s also right up there in terms of being so enjoyable, too.”
As for what lies ahead, Schueler hopes to get back into coaching, though preferably in more of an administrative role that would not require her to do as much traveling or recruiting as an assistant position.
“I would love to be the director of basketball operations for a men’s team. That would be my dream job,” said Schueler, whose father Orin was the USF men’s basketball coach in the 80s. “Maybe there’s more of a commitment, but if the opportunity came and it was in the right place, I would like to give it a try. It would be just a different challenge. I’m always up for something different.”
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.