Canton High School seniors Kari and Sara Schmitt are bound for Columbus, OH, this fall after accepting scholarship offers to play hockey at Ohio State University.
The twin sisters – who lettered in varsity basketball and swimming during their four years at and played for the Belle Tire girls 19-and-under travel hockey team for the past three years — said that they are excited for the opportunity to play for one of the Big Ten’s powerhouse programs.
“We really like Ohio State,” said Sara Shmitt. “It seems to be going in the right direction. It seems like a really good opportunity to win a national championship.”
The defensive partners will join Internaltional Ice Hockey Federation World Championship medalists Natalie Spooner (senior forward) and Minttu Tuominem (junior forward) when the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Buckeye players attempt to improve on their 14-19-3 record from the 2010-11 season.
Both Sara and Kari played for the varsity Chiefs basketball squad this past season, as the team fell just short of competing for a state title, 39-38 in the semifinal matchup. Despite the Schmitts choosing hockey over basketball, the girl Chiefs head coach Brian Samulski said that he is very proud of both girls and knows they will enjoy great success.
“I think it’s great,” he said of their decision to play hockey at OSU. “Hockey has always been number one for them. We were fortunate to have been able to work out the scheduling so that they could do both sports. I've always known that whatever they decide to do they are going to be great at.”
Kari and Sara come from a large family full of athletes. The twins, 18, are the youngest of five, and all of their siblings played several sports in high school – with swimming being the one passion they all shared. And while the girls say that for them swimming is just a hobby, their older brother, Derek, 22, and their middle sister Allison, 20, have both gone on to have great success with the sport.
Derek is currently a coach for the swim club, and Allison – who swims for the University of Georgia – won a bronze medal with the U.S. women’s swim team at the Olympic games in Beijing in 2008. “They were really supportive of our decision,” said Kari Schmitt of her family, including oldest sister Kirsten, 24, and parents Gail and Ralph. “They just told us to decide what we liked best, what would give us the most success.”
Though both girls were born in Michigan, their siblings were all born in Pittsburgh. So, Sara said, they were never really big fans of the University of Michigan or Michigan State University. “I grew up liking Michigan but I was never a die-hard fan” she said, adding that “we get a lot of grief from our friends for picking Ohio State. But that’s OK.”
Kari said that they considered several other schools before settling on OSU, even making a trip out to Boston College to check it out. She said that while they were both impressed with the campus, they never got a chance to meet with the hockey team. So, she said, when they got to Ohio State the decision was not a difficult one.
“It was an easy decision,” she said. “They have a lot of great facilities. Going there, I hope to have a lot of success.”
Both girls indicated they were undecided at this point about what they were going to study down in Columbus. Kari said that she was considering either business or teaching, while Sara thinks that she might like sports management, but admitted that business is pretty attractive to her too.
The twin sisters have always been the best of friends and have enjoyed doing so much together all their lives, Sara said, that they are planning on living in the same dormatory -- though not in the same rooms. "We decided we didn't want that," she said. "We really want to meet new people."