Hamilton soccer star Bria Schrotenboer chooses to continue competing in basketball and everyone benefits
Photo Credit: Jess Rockhold (Covering Hawkeye Sports)
Hamilton - Bria Schrotenboer admits that her decision to scratch soccer from a busy winter schedule could possibly delay her development in playing that sport at the Division I level.
But in an age when many athletes routinely choose specialization over playing multi-sports, the Hamilton junior refuses to surrender a longtime passion for basketball. While the decision is completely hers, it's one which factors into the Hawkeyes' drive for a state championship.
Hamilton (12-1), winners of 12 consecutive games, is 6-0 and the only undefeated team in division (Green) play in the O-K Conference. The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 7 in Class B by State Champs.
Instead of completely focusing on soccer at Michigan State beginning in 2019, Schrotenboer, a 5-10, three-year letter winner and honorable mention all-state selection in basketball, said she never seriously considering giving up basketball to improve her odds of honing her soccer talent.
"No, I don't think so,” she said. “I love both sports and its super important to me to play another sport. My body needs that break (from soccer).
"If I gave up basketball and stuck with soccer, maybe I would be a little better. I wouldn't be this amazing super soccer player, but playing just soccer would take a toll on my body. Basketball isn't ruining my ability to play soccer."
Though a multi-sport athlete, Schrotenboer's future is tied to soccer, which she began playing before kindergarten. She's been part of playing spring, summer and fall club soccer for years, including with the Chicago Fire, Alliance and Midwest United clubs. She was an all-state defender for the Hawkeyes last spring. Last December she attended the USA U17 National Team Camp in Florida and competed against Haiti's national team. Her ultimate goal would be to play for the U.S. in the U18 World Cup.
She picked Michigan State over Tennessee, Louisville, Arkansas and Notre Dame.
As impressive as the soccer resume and bright future are, neither are enough for Schrotenboer to surrender basketball. Both of her parents played basketball in high school, with Schrotenboer picking up the sport as a first grader. She averaged about a dozen points a game last season and is close to double figures this season dividing her time between playing point guard and the two and three spots.
Schrotenboer's presence has been instrumental in Hamilton going 23-2 a year ago and the Hawkeyes’ success so far this season. The Hawkeyes have a three-year, 19-game winning streak in the O-K Green.
"I've always loved basketball," Schrotenboer said of refusing to become a single-sport athlete. "I grew up hearing about it from my parents, watching it, playing it. Actually, I don't really have a favorite sport. I grew up with both."
Schrotenboer said MSU coaches have encouraged her to play both sports because the two sports use different muscle groups. Schrotenboer said it's physically - and mentally - beneficial to play both. Playing basketball only causes her to miss a minimal amount of off-season training time. That's a price Schrotenboer said she'll gladly pay to play with friends she's known forever.
"During basketball it's not like I'm forgetting about soccer and the same is true when I play soccer - I'm not forgetting about basketball," she said.
Hamilton coach Dan VanHekken said he's thrilled Schrotenboer, who is often called on to cover the opposing team's leading scorer, has chosen to play two sports.
"It's easy to say coaches encourage the off-season summer thing," he said, "But it's important for kids to play two or three sports instead of one. Small schools really have to do that or we suffer."
Hamilton has already beaten such Class A schools as Hudsonville and Grandville following a season-opening four-point loss to Jenison, another Class A school. Two years ago Hamilton won its first district in 13 years and last year the team won a conference title. Hamilton has never reached a state final. As for winning a state title, Schrotenboer said nothing can be ruled out.
"Our mindset is we don't talk about records. We pray before games and I'm thankful to play with everyone I do," she said. "We just want to play to our ability. That's our real mindset."