By Steve Robinson | November 17, 2019 - 10:37 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

Depending on the family, sometimes, a certain type of bond will run through from generation to generation. There may be generations of doctors or lawyers or other professions that run through a family. The same can be said of families where athletics becomes central to their lives: Parents who played sports in high school and college may see their offspring continue the tradition once they reach that age. Our area has one family who is bearing witness to that sports tradition now.

If you were a fan of University High School’s Volleyball team this season, you got to see the Pioneers team make it all the way to State, finishing 4th after losing to a two-set match to LaGrange Park-based Nazareth Academy, 25-21 and 25-22 at Redbird Arena. Among the six seniors on head coach Mike Bolhuis’ team was 5 foot-9 setter Isabel Schaefbauer.

That last name should ring clearly for many an Illinois State University men’s basketball fan. Isabel’s father is Skipp Schaefbauer, who played guard for East Carolina after high school in 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons before transferring to play for the Redbirds in 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons under then-head coach Kevin Stallings. He sat out the 1995-96 season to meet NCAA transfer requirements. Stallings’ team made it to the NCAAs in 1998 and 1999.

Now employed by the Bloomington Fire Department, married to his wife, Nicole, and a father of two daughters, Schaefbauer was playing the role of spectator this past weekend, taking in how the Pioneers did at State from the comfort of the new seating just installed at the arena this past summer. But no doubt, the athlete in him could relate to every successful kill made, every missed ball, and every point scored as he and his wife watched their daughter and her teammates vie for a shot at a State championship.

Isabel will attend college and play volleyball for South Carolina-based Winthrop University. She said she did look at and consider other schools closer to home such as DePaul, Eastern Michigan, and Northern Illinois before settling on playing for the Eagles. “They are big on undergrad research,” she said. “I’m hoping to go into Biology for my major.”

She has her educational goals set and is even going to graduate from U-High in time for Christmas. “I’ll be starting classes and training with the team in South Carolina in January.”

One would think parents of a graduating senior who would be leaving home ahead of schedule would be anxious and concerned because the usual parting and watching your child go off into early adulthood would produce such emotions. But her mother, Nicole, a former athlete herself who was an athlete at Princeton High School as well as in college, explained both she and Skipp “were both really happy for her because, as Isabel said, she found her perfect fit for college. The volleyball program she is going into is up and coming. They finished their regular season schedule undefeated. It’s a program that will start taking off and it will be fun for her, her mother explained.

The Schaefbauers were happy to hear that Winthrop’s head volleyball coach, Chuck Rey, showed concern “on not only building a good volleyball player, but also a good person,” according to Nicole. When Isabel leaves for college, the Schaefbauers will get to rehearse being empty nesters because they have an older daughter, McKenna, who is already at the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy at Hilton Head, S. C.

“Tonight, I looked at her while she played with a lot of pride,” Skipp Schaefbauer said about how his youngest daughter did at State. That’s understandable because any parent with a daughter who had achieved with her teammates what the Pioneers did would be right to feel that way. Here’s hoping Isabel’s college experience gives her and her family more reason to be proud, on the volleyball court and in classrooms and labs.

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