Remembering a teammate

Story by Monica Baltich

Friends described her as “the nicest person you will ever meet” and as an honest, go-to person for help with homework or just a good time.

“She just had the best personality and just had a way of bringing people down-to-earth,” senior Cara Berdal said of her former roommate, teammate and friend.

Sarah Schmitt, a 20 year-old junior math and computer science major from Allenton, Wis., died Sunday from injuries related to a car accident in Columbia County.

Coach, teammate and roommate senior Katie Kotschi said Schmitt left their house early Sunday morning to go home for a birthday party after playing a rugby match in Stevens Point the night before.

“We hadn’t even really realized that she left to go home until we got the phone call about the accident,” she said. “Immediately all the girls from the rugby team, even rugby players from Stout, came together when we found out.”

Dean of Students Brian Carlisle said Schmitt will be missed by many and her passing was a huge loss for the campus.

“Anytime a student passes it’s just a tragedy for the whole community,” he said. “It truly is a tragic loss for the family, teammates, faculty and staff when we lose one of our own.”

Kotschi said Schmitt, known best as “Schmitty,” was a force to be reckoned with, playing her position as a hooker on the rugby pitch.

“When she came out for rugby as a freshman she was not shy at all,” Kotschi said. “She was quiet but she would knock you flat on your back.”

Schmidt was the vice president of the UW-Eau Claire Women’s Rugby Team. Kotschi said it was Schmitt’s passion to play rugby and was seen as the silent leader of the team and always left everything out on the pitch.

Berdal was Schmitt’s roommate and teammate and the one who gave her the nickname “Schmitty.”

“When I met her I was excited because I always wanted a friend that I could walk into a bar and yell ‘Hey Schmitty!'” she said. “And she was exactly that kind of person, it was always good to have her around.”

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 331 Main St., Kewaskum, Wis.

The UW-Eau Claire rugby team will be selling T-shirts to raise money for Schmitt’s family to pay for the funeral costs and a candle light vigil will be scheduled for next week.