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Caitlyn Schmidt: ‘Never let adversity defeat you’

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Eastern New Mexico soccer player Caitlyn Schmidt in action at Greyhound Stadium. (Eastern Athletic Communications Photo)

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Her parents, Chuck and Denna Schmidt have always wanted their daughter, Caitlyn Schmidt, to be exposed to all the opportunities life has to offer and to be able to handle adversity.

That’s why they enrolled her in dance at Ms. Minnie’s, and signed her up at 3 years old to play soccer at Roswell Youth Soccer Association.

Goddard’s Caitlyn Schmidt in action during her high school career, taking a shot on goal. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

What Caitlyn Schmidt found at a young age was a game to love in soccer, and a passion to excel. While playing soccer, she found a best friend in Averi Mann. Along with finding a sport to love and a best friend, she found a team that would travel the state of New Mexico in search of competition to get better.

Averi Mann, Lara Carrica, Desi Flores, Bethany Alvarez, Bianca Morones, Cierra Saavedra, Delilah Sandoval, and Idali Sifuentes played on the travel team, Chaos, and would form a devastating senior class that would lead Goddard girls’ soccer program to four district titles.

“Having this experience and dedication throughout those years really helped us to have a great connection on the field,” Caitlyn Schmidt said. “I graduated with all of those girls and got to play my last game of high school with them.”

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Bond

Former Goddard soccer player Caitlyn Schmidt takes a shot on goal with her left leg during a game. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

While playing soccer, another thing happened that Caitlyn Schmidt never realized was happening: she and her dad were forming an unbreakable father and daughter bond.

She and her dad would carpool with Chris and Lori Mann, her best friend’s parents, and go everywhere together throughout high school by playing on a competitive club soccer team called Albuquerque Rush 99. The team played in some crazy weather. No matter what the circumstances, the Schmidts and Manns found a way to make sure their girls would be successful.

They would travel to Albuquerque every weekend during the entire spring with the Rush 99 team. If they weren’t traveling to Albuquerque, they were traveling to huge recruiting tournaments such as the Presidents Day Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; and even regionals in Boise, Idaho.

“Without my parents or the Manns,” Caitlyn Schmidt said, “I would 100% not be where I am at in my career today. Traveling to play club soccer gave me the experience I needed in order to be recruited and I am forever thankful. I created an extremely close bond with the Manns and my parents. I cannot thank all of them enough for spending every single one of their weekends on the endless soccer games that weren’t always fun.”

During her high school career, she scored seven goals in a game as a sophomore against Portales. As a sophomore, she scored 26 goals and finished with 57 points. Also as a sophomore, Caitlyn Schmidt was 10th in the state in goals scored. She was District 2-5A Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior. She was awarded first-team all-district for four consecutive years in high school and also made all-state her junior year.

“She’s an awesome kid,” Goddard soccer coach Jaime Martinez said. “She does everything right and is the hardest working girl. If I had a whole team of her, I would bring trophies home. She was very coachable and tough as nails. Caitlyn was very underrated in high school.”

ENMU

Eastern New Mexico University asked Caitlyn Schmidt to come for a visit and a tryout. Once she was on campus, her talents shined and she was offered a scholarship. She experienced emotional heartbreak during her freshman year at college. Chris Mann (her best friend’s dad) had been living with ALS for two years and died her freshman year.

“It was an honor to have someone like Chris to push me,” she said. “He made me try harder to be the best version of me that I could be.”

At ENMU, Caitlyn Schmidt plays an attacking center midfielder. One of the biggest differences between high school and college for her is not only are athletes bigger, stronger and faster, but for Caitlyn, it is more of a mental game.

She said she has to focus and think the game through. She feels her game is 90% mental and guards against letting herself get too emotional or down on herself. For her, there is too much competition to lose sight of the big picture.

“Competition is what makes you better,” Caitlyn Schmidt said. “If you didn’t have competition, it would never make you the player you are. Playing against competition is only pushing both players to be the best versions of themselves and that makes the team better.”

Caitlyn Schmidt started 13 of the 20 games her freshman year. It bugged her that she didn’t start at the beginning of the season. She would put in the extra time and work on her game by going to the weight room. She would also run on her own, get touches on the ball and work on her technicality. All this to get to the next level to get to where she needed to be.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “it was my goal to be the best version that I could be of me. I would get frustrated, but I wasn’t going to hang my head down. I believe that hard work beats talent and I always worked as hard as I could to get where I am.”

First goal

Caitlyn Schmidt scored her first goal as a freshman against Midwestern State University in the Lone Star Conference Tournament. It was on a breakaway on the right side of the field. She had passed the ball to a teammate who passed the ball right back to her. She then dribbled through the defender and scored.

“I was so excited,” Caitlyn Schmidt said.

Midwestern came into the game ranked 14th in the nation, as ENMU beat them, 4-0. That win advanced ENMU to the semifinals against Angelo State University. It was the first time in ENMU’s history they appeared in a conference semifinal game.

In her sophomore year, not only did she score her first goal, but ENMU had a new coach, Joshua Smith. The ENMU program made it to the conference championship against Angelo State University after beating nationally ranked West Texas A&M in double overtime in the conference semifinal game. It was a huge upset and advanced ENMU to their first conference championship in school history.

In Caitlyn Schmidt’s junior year, ENMU had a really good start — they were ranked ninth in the region after the school’s best single-season start in school history. However, shortly after this, ENMU had six starters go down with season-ending injuries. Despite this, they came within one game of making the conference tournament.

Injury

After the season, Caitlyn Schmidt had surgery for compartment syndrome in her calves. It would take her months to recover. With COVID-19, their season has been canceled. She has been asked to come back for her senior season by the new ENMU coach.

She made All-Lone Star Conference Academic Team her sophomore and junior year of college. She was awarded the Academic Player of the Year in the conference.

Caitlyn Schmidt will graduate in the spring with a degree in communicative disorders. In the fall, she has the option to play and start her master’s.

She would like to be a speech pathologist like her mother, Deena Schmidt, who is her role model. Her interest lies in dysphagia (swallowing disorders) and stroke victims. She is interested in the geriatric population.

“I feel like they (older people) don’t always get the care they need,” Caitlyn Schmidt said. “I want to make sure they get that.

“Soccer is such a personal thing for me,” she said. “It was such an amazing experience for me and my dad. It made me so close to him over high school. I got to go every weekend with him to Albuquerque with my best friend, Averi Mann.

“We went all over the place and shared those times together, being in those hotel rooms and throughout college, my dad never stopped supporting me,” Caitlyn Schmidt said. “I think my dad has missed only one of my games in college. Every memory I have with him, I can never replace. He’s my biggest fan. It’s amazing to have that support system.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.