Rachel Schulte’s motto might be: If one is good; two is better! Maybe that’s a natural theory for her because she’s a twin. Maybe she just tries harder. Rachel, a senior at MHS, not only notched the milestone of 1000 career kills for the Lady Bulldogs’ offense, she supersized it by adding 1000 career digs for the defense.
Her 1000th kill came in the fourth set in Milbank’s match with Roncalli on October 17. Rachel, a setter and outside hitter, said, “We don’t exactly know in which game I made the 1000th dig because I was already past it when my coach did the math. We celebrated it in the game against Webster (October 24) in the first set. I got the 1000 digs first, but we celebrated the kills first.
Pretty impressive for a girl who didn’t think she belonged on the varsity team when she was a freshman. “I struggled with wanting everything to be perfect, so I felt like my hard work paid off,” she explained.
Rachel recalled the moment when she hit the 1000th mark, “I felt proud of myself. I also felt very supported by my teammates and manager as they were all very proud and happy for me. They were excited. They started jumping on me and everybody held up signs on the bench. I am so grateful for their support and love.”
It appears that Rachel has joined an elite group by achieving her double milestone. However, Coach Hoeke, Milbank Athletic Director Ryan Scoular, and the SDHSAA have been unable to confirm if any or how many high school players have accomplished this feat at MHS or in South Dakota history.
Rachel, on the other hand, tries to focus on the old adage: There is no “I” in team. She cites her team as the main reason volleyball is so special, “Especially this year. We just felt like a little family, and we all cared about each other so much and wanted to see everyone succeed.” On an individual level, she says, “Volleyball is special because whenever I’m playing, I feel like that is the only thing that matters, and everything I worry about outside of the gym just goes away.”
She also says, “I think what influenced my performance the most is that I wanted to be someone that my team knew they could rely on. I see one of my greatest strengths as being someone who can handle the pressure of close game situations. My teammates knew that when we needed to score, I wanted the ball, and I could put the ball away.”
Rachel’s intensity is tempered by her humility, though. “My advice to people that look up to me is to not be too hard on yourself. Volleyball is a sport of mistakes, and everyone makes mistakes no matter how good they are. I did not start out as the player I am now. Mental toughness is such a huge part of volleyball. You can’t let a couple of silly mistakes keep you from playing to your potential.” She in turn looks up to her former Lady Bulldog teammates and certain college players.
Will she play volleyball at the college level? Rachel says her plans are up in the air, but she is interested in attending Southeast Technical College for diagnostic medical sonography.
A sonography degree is considered more academically challenging than becoming a nurse, due to the physics and math-heavy course load. Sonography programs are also extremely competitive because of the limited number of spots available. Judging by Rachel’s success in volleyball and music – she and her twin brother, Joe, have been recognized as two of the top violinists in the state for the last four years — Rachel is more than up to the challenge.