Basketball freshman Hannah Schuchts embraces her redshirt year

After being diagnosed with a stress fracture, rookie Hannah Schuchts takes year off to recover.

Most Missouri women’s basketball fans know the names of freshmen Sophie Cunningham and Cierra Porter all too well. After all, they’ve been a dominant duo thus far. However, many may not be as familiar with freshman Hannah Schuchts.

But they should be.

Schuchts has been with the team every step of the way — just not on the court.

Earlier this year, Schuchts noticed a nagging pain in her foot, but she continued to practice. Soon, the nagging became more and more apparent, requiring a trip to the doctor. There, she was diagnosed with a stress fracture, an injury that changed her status from part of the highly recruited rookie trio to a redshirt freshman.

Despite her injury, she comes to practice and travels to the games with her teammates, but she stays away from the action. Instead, you can find her in the weight room or pool doing extra conditioning to stay in shape and bring her foot back to full health.

Just a few weeks ago, she built up enough strength to return to practice. Although she won’t see any game time this season, she still pushes herself on the court for the benefit of the team.

“This year I’m just trying to be as good as the team is,” Schuchts said. “I obviously have a really fun team to cheer for this season, they put on a good show. I love being there for them, cheering them on, watching the game and any little reminder that I can give them.”

But watching your teammates play the game you love from the sidelines isn’t as easy as it seems. When asked if it was difficult to be on the bench during games, she nodded immediately and replied with an emphasized, “oh yeah.”

Although being a spectator and supporter aren't her ideal roles, Schuchts and her teammates know this season will set her up for success next year, when her potential will finally be showcased.

“What she does is very quiet but it's huge at the same time,” Cunningham said. “Her arms are so freaking long that you underestimate it. She’s going to be a huge presence for us down low and on the perimeter. This year is going to help her grow and help her see what she can do next year for us. I think it's the best thing for her to do because she’s going to be a huge presence for us next year.”

As a Florida native, an unusual origin for the primarily local team, Schuchts’ college decision was solidified once she met the girls; it was the players that did it for her. They’ve also been a key component to her continued positivity toward her redshirt year.

“It's hard to redshirt, but she's really embraced it,” coach Robin Pingeton said. “She's enjoyed the process. Certainly looking forward to next season, but it's a pretty close-knit group of young ladies. 14 sisters that battle for each other, encourage each other, challenge each other, and she's very valuable in regards to those kinds of things."

So to the fans who aren’t familiar with this long-armed forward cheering at the end of the bench on game days, it’s only a matter of time.

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