Hard work raising Ludwig's game

Chris Steele
Kammie Ludwig holds the AAU seventh-grade National Championship trophy in Kingsport, Tenn., on July 7.

Winning the AAU National Championship was an amazing moment for Geneseo’s Kammie Ludwig.

However, this might just be the beginning of the basketball milestones for her to come.

Ludwig and the Heart of Illinois basketball team won the 2017 AAU National Championship, in Kingsport, Tenn., on July 7.

The seventh-grade girls’ team finished the tournament undefeated with a 7-0 record and topped the Western Pennsylvania Bruins 45-34 in the championship game.

“It was amazing,” Ludwig said. “It was hard to process because we had worked so hard throughout the season.

“We knew every day that we had to wake up and have that motivation that we want this more than everyone.”

AAU basketball has some of the top players from around the country competing in the national tournament with teams from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wisconsin in the field.

The Heart of Illinois team had finished in the top 10 twice at nationals, but the team’s best finish was seventh prior to this season.

In her second season with the Heart of Illinois team, Ludwig believes the trust the team developed has built a strong bond on the court.

Team members are from all around the state with players from Dunlap, Canton, Peoria, Pekin, Morton and other schools near Peoria.

Ludwig plays in the Peoria area several times a week, and she has had her teammates over to her house so they can build bonds off the court.

Ludwig’s humble and hard working attitude has increased her drive to improve already facing varsity talent.

“It’s pushed me a lot harder,” Ludwig said. “I’ve noticed myself getting in the gym a lot more and working to be the best I can possibly be to achieve my goals.”

She stepped up her workout regimen over the winter and has seen it pay off.

Five times a week, she gets up at dawn with her father, Justin Ludwig, to work on her game at the Geneseo Community Center. Her mother, Jenny Ludwig, has seen how Kammie has grown as an individual playing a tournament nearly every weekend.

“It’s made her be more independent and organized,” Jenny said. “You kind of have to grow up a little bit faster and be a little bit more mature. Especially, when

recruiters are approaching you and asking you questions. It’s teaching her to stay humble, grounded and kind. I think that goes a long way.”

Locally, Kammie has played as a member of the QC Ballers and the Geneseo Swish, but she has proven to be an all-around athlete participating in volleyball and soccer as well.

She tied the Geneseo girls’ high jump record in seventh grade, and she finished 10th in the high jump at the IESA state meet.

Kammie played strong forward with the Geneseo Swish, but she has moved to guard for AAU giving her versatility on the court.

Going into her eighth-grade season, Kammie will begin focusing more on showcases that will put her in front of more college coaches and recruiters.

At the AAU national tournament, Kammie’s play grabbed the attention of Blue Star Media as a player to watch, and Kameo Williams, who writes player evaluations and profiles for “Gems In The Gym,” was tweeting about Kammie’s talent.

He tweeted, “Ludwig is crafty, hits the baseline jumper and had a couple nifty drives.”

Kammie will begin playing in showcases next month, and she plans to step up her training even more.

“You can’t have an off game because people are always watching,” Kammie said. “I think that it will push me harder to be the best I can be when I’m on the court.”