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High School Basketball

Competitive spirit runs in the family for Medina sports hall inductee Cassie Schrock

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    Cassie Schrock, a former Wadworth High and Eastern Michigan standout basketball player, is a 2019 Medina County Hall of Fame inductee.

    PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RON SCHWANE

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Cassie Schrock was a three-time Gazette MVP and scored 1,391 points in her four-year basketball career at Wadsworth High.

She still ranks first in free throws made and attempted, fifth in points and assists and sixth in rebounds in Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball history.

Playing power forward at times and point guard at others, she led the Grizzlies to the Division I state tournament in 2006 and the Eagles to the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in 2011.

The 5-foot-9 Schrock, who will be inducted into the Medina County Sports Hall of Fame during a June 13 ceremony at The Galaxy Restaurant, was a special player with unique intelligence and competitiveness.

Unless, that is, she’s being compared to father Denny, who has compiled more than 600 victories and is still coaching at Chippewa High at the age of 70, mother Shannon, an All-America player at Walsh University, siblings D.J., Ben, Anthony and Leah or first cousins Josh, Blake, Cara, Luke, Britt, Caleb and Maria Busson.

All talented and incredibly competitive athletes who grew up in adjacent houses on Eastern Road in Wadsworth Township, Schrock’s siblings and cousins, along with her parents, made her the person she is today.

Cassandra Ann Schrock
Birthdate: Oct. 13, 1988.
Family members: Father Dennis, mother Shannon, brothers D.J., Ben and Anthony, sister Leah.
Car: 2018 Kia Sportage.
Hobbies: Anything to do with basketball! Playing, watching or training basketball.
Favorite TV show: "How to Get Away with Murder."
Favorite movie: "John Wick."
Favorite actor: Denzel Washington.
Favorite athlete: Serena Williams.
Favorite song: "You Say," by Lauren Daigle.
Favorite book: "Developing the Leader Within You," by John Maxwell.
Favorite number: 22.
The best compliment I ever got was: "As a coach, a player thanking me for helping/pushing her to get into college and saying that without me, she would have never made it to college."
The thing I like most about sports is: "The places it can take you and the people you can meet. Also the fact it can give student-athletes a free college education."
The thing I dislike most about sports is: "Honestly, I couldn't think of one thing I dislike about sports."
My idea of the perfect day is: "Hanging with my family and playing outside with my four nephews."

“It was tough,” she said of her childhood days. “Everything was a competition. My dad was a stickler on, ‘Don’t come crying to me. Figure it out. If you cry, you’re going to be sent to your room.’ We had to figure it out. I couldn’t tell you who the most competitive person was, but someone always got hurt.”

Schrock grew up attending Sacred Heart School in Wadsworth, where her mom and dad served as her CYO basketball coaches. When she wasn’t practicing there, she was attending camps in Wadsworth or Doylestown, attending one of her dad’s high school practices or sitting on the bench during Chippewa games.

“My kids grew up with the game. All of them,” Denny said. “I always took them with me. Cassie was the one who always wanted to play college ball. She would come to my practices and observe everything, really take it in. She would sit there on the bench during games, then go out and shoot at halftime.

“At home, she would go out and shoot and shoot and shoot. She was not going to be denied being a good basketball player. Her grandma lived across the street and she would watch Cassie. She kept telling Shannon and me, ‘She’s going to be good.’”

While playing mainly against boys, Schrock also was an accomplished soccer player prior to entering high school — “I mean, really good,” Denny said — but she decided to give up that sport because she wanted to start for the highly successful Wadsworth varsity basketball team as a freshman.

“I decided to focus everything on basketball, but soccer made me really tough,” Schrock said. “It was a lot of conditioning and it could get physical. I would get a lot of yellow cards and a lot of fouls.”

Callaghan years

Older siblings D.J. and Ben, as well as cousins Josh, Blake, Cara and Luke Busson, had already made their mark on Wadsworth High athletics when Schrock arrived for her freshman year in 2003-04, so Grizzlies basketball coach Scott Callaghan, who later coached the boys program, had some idea what he was getting.

“Her skill level and her competitive nature came together at such an early age,” Callaghan said. “She had that drive that I know she learned playing in her driveway against her brothers and cousins and from watching her dad coach. That competitive nature and willingness to compete in practice rubbed off on everyone.”

Callaghan, who now coaches at Archbishop Hoban, thought so much of Schrock’s talent and maturity that he made her a team captain as a freshman. She was 14 years old.

“It was tough at first,” Schrock said. “You’re 14, 15 years old playing against 18-year-olds. You don’t realize how big of a jump it really is. Now I do.

“Being a captain as a freshman, you have to have some pretty thick skin. I did. I wasn’t afraid to speak up. I just had that type of mentality about myself. Did I have the greatest freshman year? No, but it helped me in the long run.”

Schrock averaged 10.7 points that season while frequently functioning as a point guard on offense and a power forward on defense, where she was a physical, aggressive and relentless rebounder.

As a sophomore, she upped her scoring average to 11.2 points and won the first of her three Gazette MVP awards, in part because it was clear to everyone that her value to the Grizzlies went way beyond statistics.

To this day, Callaghan still waxes poetic about the time Schrock badly sprained her ankle in practice, the day before a huge Suburban League game against Hudson. The ankle swelled immediately and she had to be carried to the locker room by a team trainer and assistant coach Mark Postak.

“For the next 15 minutes I’m thinking, ‘We probably don’t have a chance the next day. Why were we going so hard the day before a game?’” Callaghan said. “Fifteen minutes later, she came back in the gym. She was all taped up and hobbling around.

“I said, ‘You can’t be out here,’ and she said, ‘Coach, I’m playing tomorrow.’ She played and she was our best player. I still remember that and I still talk to my teams about that today. On the girls side, she’s the toughest kid I’ve ever coached.”

Booth years

Prior to Schrock’s junior year, current coach Andrew Booth took over the Wadsworth girls program, which also featured junior center and future Bowling Green State University recruit Jen Uhl.

“Me and Coach Booth butted heads a little bit at first, but we fixed it real easily,” Schrock said. “His style was a little different, but you have to learn how the coaches coach.”

With Schrock and Uhl on his roster, Booth was fully aware he was walking into a pretty good situation. He also knew he’d have to gain the respect of his players, particularly one who grew up around the game, knew it almost as well as he did and wasn’t going to be fooled by a lack of preparation.

“Cassie was a challenge to coach, and I mean that in the most positive way,” Booth said. “Here’s a kid who has grown up around basketball and understands the game on a deeper level than most high school kids do.

“The challenging part is that I better come with my coaching plan, my game plan, and be on point, because this is a kid who knows what is going on. That made me a better coach, because you weren’t going to fool her. That’s one of the things that made her so good.”

Schrock averaged a career-high 19.2 points that season, and with her and Uhl leading the way and underclassmen Britt Busson and Chrissy Pavlik onboard, the Grizzlies reached the state tournament.

“After my first open gym, I called one of my buddies at (Mansfield) Madison and said, ‘I think I’ve died and gone to basketball heaven,’” Booth said. “A big part of that was watching Cassie play in the first hour of an open gym.”

Booth compared Schrock’s versatility to that of former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen. She could play point guard and distribute, but she also could score whenever needed. Defensively, she could guard on the perimeter or go down low and bang.

“The unique thing about her was her physicality,” he said. “She had point guard knowledge and ability, yet she was able and willing to get in the paint and bang with the big girls and be very effective at that part of the game, too.”

The Grizzlies were almost as good in Schrock’s senior year, when she averaged 17.4 points and picked up her third Gazette MVP award. Her 1,391 points still rank eighth in county girls basketball history, and that total would be significantly higher had she not been such a team-oriented player.

“She was a warrior,” Booth said. “Just the fire that she brought to everything, whether it was a pickup game or practice or the real thing, she did not like to lose. That was one of the things that made her such a great high school player and served her so well in college, because it raised the level of her teammates.

“It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, when the game was on the line, whose hands you wanted the ball in. She had as great a will to win as any kid I’ve been around in 20 years.”

College years

Exhibiting the same qualities at Eastern Michigan as she had at Wadsworth, Schrock didn’t just survive at the D-I college level, she thrived after choosing the Mid-American Conference school over Ashland, Akron and Colgate.

Big-time success wasn’t immediate, but she started 20 of the Eagles’ 29 games as a freshman and averaged 6.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever really experienced in basketball,” Schrock said. “It’s a new environment, being away from home, learning to go out on my own. I had to figure things out. The demands of being a student-athlete in college are tough. It’s your life.

“I’m a competitor. I didn’t go to Eastern Michigan to sit the bench. I wanted to start. It was truly one of the hardest times, but it was worth it.”

Over the next three years, Schrock started every one of the Eagles’ 97 games. She averaged 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a sophomore, 12.6, 5.1 and 5.4 as a junior, when her point guard duties increased, and 14.3, 7.0 and 5.9 as a senior.

“She just had a great personality and passion for the game,” said Annmarie Gilbert, Schrock’s coach at EMU. “I mean, you could tell she was a coach’s kid. She was smart beyond her years.”

Gilbert didn’t recruit Schrock, having come to EMU from Michigan State after that process had been completed, but the two hit it off almost immediately and are still friends today. Gilbert is now the head coach at D-II Virginia Union, which lost to Ashland in the 2017 national championship game.

“When I first saw her play, I thought of rebounding and a strong driver, someone who could get to the free throw line early and often,” Gilbert said. “She started out as a (small forward-power forward) and grew her ability to shoot the ball.”

In Schrock’s junior season, the Eagles finished 22-9 overall and won the MAC West Division regular-season title. In her senior year, when she became the full-time point guard, EMU went 24-13, lost in the MAC Tournament final and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT before falling to Syracuse.

“Her last year, I didn’t have a point guard,” Gilbert said. “Everybody in the league thought, ‘Eastern Michigan is done.’ I thought, ‘I’m moving her to (point guard).’ People thought I was crazy.

“I didn’t know how it would work out, but she was one of the best point forwards you could ever have. She coached every position. I didn’t have to be on the court. She could tell everyone their assignments.”

Schrock’s talent didn’t go unnoticed. She earned honorable mention All-MAC honors as a junior, was a second-team all-league and all-tournament team choice as a senior and was named MAC Player of the Week on five occasions.

“I’m so proud of her and happy for her,” Gilbert said of Schrock’s county hall of fame induction. “I’m a big fan of Cassie Schrock and I always will be.”

Adult years

Schrock earned an education degree from EMU and then spent a year and a half serving as an assistant to her dad at Chippewa.

She currently teaches first grade at Franklin Elementary School in Massillon, where she spent five years as the varsity girls basketball coach before stepping down following the 2018-19 season.

In addition to teaching at Franklin, she plans to begin training young athletes for basketball at her brother Anthony’s gym, Peak Performance in Wadsworth, but hasn’t ruled out a return to coaching.

“It’s different than when I was growing up,” Schrock said. “I’m taking a year off from coaching to see if it is something I really want to do. Maybe. We’ll see.”

It seems inevitable. Oldest brother D.J. is the boys head coach at Chippewa, and father Denny probably isn’t going to coach the girls program forever.

Plus, there is that Schrock-Busson competitive streak that has to be quenched somehow, someway.

A great athlete because she, with a lot of help from her parents and siblings and cousins, made herself into one, Schrock could touch the backboard in her prime, but never the rim. She was fast and quick, but not as fast and quick as some, so her solution was to outwork everyone.

“I had to be smart,” she said. “I knew I could get better positioning (to rebound), read where that ball was coming off and go and get it. I’m not the most athletic person and I’m not the quickest. I worked hard and I was smart and I got where I needed to get.”

Schrock admits to sometimes being envious of the physical talents others have but don’t fully develop, yet her time at EMU and five years at Massillon also showed her everyone has different challenges to overcome.

“I think, ‘God, I would kill to have what you have,’” she said. “At the same time, it’s the work ethic and the heart and the drive behind the athlete. I naturally had those because I had to. I was a coach’s kid.

“(In CYO basketball), my mom was tougher than my dad at times. I know that’s hard to believe, but she’s tough. She knew the game. We started with the fundamentals, and that obviously paid off for me big time.”

Whether or not she coaches again, the 30-year-old Schrock’s upbringing, competitiveness, drive and love of basketball will continue to impact her life and, as a teacher, the lives of others.

“It’s made me who I am today,” she said. “It’s made me a better person, a better coach, even a better teacher. The experiences I’ve had, the friendships I’ve made, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been — I mean, we got to play in Hawaii and Cancun — it’s made me the person I am.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.


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