Three Geneseo athletes sign to play at college level

Claudia Loucks
GHS senior Kammie Ludwig signed a Letter of Intent to play basketball at Providence College in Rhode Island. In the photo are, in back, Justin Ludwig, Kammie’s father; in front from left, Keyaira Belha, sister; Ludwig and her mother, Jennifer Ludwig; and brother, Kruiz Ludwig.
GHS senior Malakai Schaad has signed a Letter of Intent to be on the track team at Wichita State University, Wichita, KS. With Schaad are parents, Jason and Gwen Schaad, and Jay Wilson, an assistant track coach at GHS.
GHS senior Hannah Copeland, center, signed a Letter of Intent to play volleyball at the University of Missouri, St Louis. With Copeland in the photo are her parents, Mark and Stephanie Copeland.

Three Geneseo High School athletes have chosen to take their skills to the next level and signing their National Letters of Intent at GHS last week.

The three graduating seniors are Kammie Ludwig, Hannah Copeland and Malakai Schaad.

Geneseo Athletic Director Joe Nichols welcomed the group of students, parents and coaches at the event and said, “On behalf of the administration and student body at Geneseo High School, we are proud of all of you and the hard work it took to get to this day. We wish all of them the best of luck.”

Kammie Ludwig will be playing basketball for the Friars at Providence College in Rhode Island.

She plans to major in biology and pursue a career in dermatology.

When asked why she chose to sign with Providence College, Ludwig said, “I chose this school because it felt like a home to me. I knew I didn’t want to stay close to home, but never knew I’d end up that far away. The coaches and the whole atmosphere were extremely welcoming to me! Although, it’s 20 hours away I still feel like I’ll be at home.”

On the team at Providence, Ludwig will play in the Big East Conference which includes Marquette, Creighton, UCONN, and Xavier.

Her journey with sports began with volleyball and basketball when she was in preschool with Tee Ball and she said, “I knew I wanted to play Division I basketball

since I was in third grade. I wrote out my goals with my parents in third grade and playing D1 basketball was number one for me.”

She played on a team in Peoria when she was in seventh grade (HOI); was on a Chicago team since eighth grade (Elite) and All-Iowa Attack in Ames, Iowa, this last summer.

“My favorite sport is basketball because I feel most comfortable when in that element,” Ludwig said. “Everything and all my problems disappear and I can relax and be myself without stress.”

When asked about how Covid affected her commitment to sports, Ludwig said, “The biggest thing I struggled with was the very beginning when everything was completely shut down. I felt like the issue revolving around us was tearing me up in the inside when it came to going to my trainer, Jordan Delp.”

When in-person classes resumed last year, Ludwig chose to stay home and said, “I was fortunate to continue training at 5 a.m. with my trainer for weights. I didn’t want to use the excuse like a lot of people, ‘Covid has made me slower’. I wanted to keep getting better.”

“The friends I’ve met through basketball are some of the closest and most comforting friends,” she said. “I know that we can all relate at some point during the sport of basketball and we all have each other’s backs. My best friend since kindergarten, Cameron Moe, has supported me the whole way and I couldn’t be any luckier.”

The basketball standout has accomplished much and has received numerous accolades including 2 x Illinois Metro Player of the Year; 2 x First Team All Conference; reached the 1,000 Carter Point in her junior year and IBCA All-State and regular All-State.

Ludwig is dedicated to her sport and works out every day…She said, “I feel like one of the things that puts people apart is work ethic and willingness. I work out almost everyday with either ball handling or just shooting. I stay in shape by pushing myself in drills and in practice runs.”

“I’ve been lucky enough to have the biggest support system with my parents to provide me with the best trainers and coaches,” she said. “My parents have been my rocks and have pushed me so hard. I’m extremely grateful for everything they’ve done.”

Ludwig also is fortunate to have not experienced any injuries thus far in her athletic career.

When asked to share a favorite memory from basketball, she said, - “from travel and meeting some of my best friends from all over. You ;learn who your true friends are through the recruitment process and finding the best ones in the end are the biggest reward; developing new relationships with people I’ll have in my life forever.”

In addition to her school and basketball schedule, Ludwig also works at Raelyn’s in Geneseo and babysits.

She is the daughter of Justin and Jennifer Ludwig and she has a sister, Keyaira Belha, and a brother, Kruiz Ludwig.

Hannah Copeland will be playing volleyball with the Tritons at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

She plans to major in elementary education.

Copeland said her decision to attend UMSL was “because I loved the atmosphere of the campus and the city. They have a very successful volleyball program and I really liked the coach. The girls made me feel very welcome and they were very easy to talk to.”

She began playing softball when she was four years old, basketball when she was five and started playing volleyball in seventh grade…”I gave up basketball after sixth grade and softball after my freshman year to focus on volleyball,” she said.

No need to wonder, volleyball is her favorite sport and Copeland said, “I have always had fun playing the game, and once I started playing club volleyball, I enjoyed it even more because of the higher level of play.”

The pandemic changed so much for students and student athletes and Copeland said during the Covid season, the biggest disappointment for her was not getting a post season for high school volleyball. –“With the team we had I believe we could’ve made it far.”

“Volleyball has brought me some of my closest friends,” she said. “Especially from my club team, we spend so much time together because of our long season and traveling.”

Her accomplishments in volleyball include having been a three-year starter in high school; earning All-Conference honors all three years she played at the varsity level; receiving the Spotlight Athlete of the Week honor from KWQC.

In club career, Copeland has made the top team all four years she has played with Iowa Select.

“I have made it to the Nationals twice, during my 15’s season we went to Indianapolis and my 17’s season we went to Las Vegas,” she explained.

Workout routines continue even in off season and Copeland lifts in Wellness classes at GHS and will soon begin practices with her club team.

She has not suffered any injuries from her involvement with sports.

Her favorite memory from volleyball was her trip to Las Vegas for Nationals in July…”It was a really fun experience to earn our bid and travel that far away to play,” she said.

In addition to her school and volleyball schedules, Copeland works from April until October at Sunset Lakes RV Resort and she said, “I plan to work there again next year and I also help coach youth programs at Iowa Select.”

She is the daughter of Mark and Stephanie Copeland and she has a sister, Callie, a seventh grader, who plays volleyball, basketball and softball.

Malakai Schaad will participate in track and field for the Shockers of Wichita State University, Wichita, KS.

He plans to major in exercise science and said, “So their student athlete study tables were reassuring to me that they put a lot of emphasis on academics.”

“I picked Wichita State after a very long recruiting process that started my sophomore year with my first college visit,” he said. “I wasn’t too sure about Wichita until I went on an official visit and got to see the campus and meet the rest of the team. I got a great feeling from everyone I met. Everyone was super hard-working and absolutely loves track and that’s exactly what I want in college.”

The pandemic found Malakai and his brother Cooper Schaad traveling to surrounding states to find meets to jump in that were hosted by various pole vault clubs…”We also met Johnny Graham from Polebenders Vault Club in Waukesha, WI, who allowed us to come up to his club and train while our facility was shut down.”

“I think my Covid year was better than most, I was still mostly able to train and compete over the summer and winter seasons,” he said. “My only frustration was that

there was never any consistency in my training. I could never count on a specific practice time, let alone if I would be able to have somewhere to practice.”

Schaad became involved in sports when he was in middle school and ran track and cross country and wrestled

“Injuries kept me out of wrestling and I eventually fell away from it,” he said. “After my freshman year I began to fall away from cross country as well, but I love the cross country team so I could never bring myself to not run.”

“I love the sport of track and field,” he added. “All of the events in track are very specialized and I think there’s something so incredible about having a group of athletes that do completely different events, come together to unite as a team.”

Schaad also has become closer with his middle brother Cooper since they began pole vaulting together and he said, “I’ve made a couple of new friends in track, but most recently when I started going to Polebenders I’ve met a lot of really cool people that I’ve been fortunate enough to compete with and hopefully I’ll be able to compete with them in person again in college.”

His coaches and he have started running open gyms for pole vault, Schaad said, “and they have worked with my coach at Wichita to come up with a workout plan as well. I’ve been training since the end of cross country season and we will continue until the start of indoor track season.”

Schaad’s success began in middle school when he qualified for State competition in both his seventh and eighth grade years at Geneseo Middle School.

In cross country he also ran at State when he was an eighth grader.

“I was the second vaulter on our track team my freshman year and I placed sixth at Sectionals that year as well,” he said. “Last year I managed to break our school record four times, placed second at State and was the top scorer on the track team.”

His favorite memory from pole vault is when he broke the school record held by his coach, Arthur Atwell and Schaad said, “Breaking my coach’s record was a big deal for both of us and it was amazing to have my whole team there to watch me do it. Getting tackled onto the pit afterwards was by far the best feeling I’ve ever had in sports.”

Schaad said he has been battling lower back pain since he started wrestling and added, “I’ve had plenty of minor injuries on and off on top of that as well, but that’s just sports in my mind.”

He and his family lived in Geneseo until Schaad was in second grade when his mother was offered a job in Brazil…”My family moved to Brazil for three years and we moved back after I was in fifth grade. I’ve lived in Geneseo ever since.”

He is the son of Jason and Gwen Schaad and there are two brothers, Cooper and Finn Schaad.