Courtney Schumacher first girl to join baseball team

Freshman infielder breaks barriers for love of her sport



Schumacher sports NT baseball uniform after making the team

“23 years here, 34 years as a head coach, 37 years in teaching itself, and never have I seen a girl make a baseball team,” Mike Napoleon, the head baseball coach said.

Freshman Courtney Schumacher acts as the sole exception to Napoleon’s prior experience, becoming the first girl to ever play for the New Trier baseball team.

Since the age of seven Schumacher has played baseball, moving on to her first travel baseball team within a year of learning the sport. After years of competitive playing, summer programs and private instruction, Schumacher’s decision to try out for the baseball team was a simple one.

“I knew I had to try out. Baseball is one of my favorite sports, so even though there were so many boys trying out I knew I had to give it my best shot,” Schumacher explained.

In making the team, Schumacher has successfully broken down at least one more boundary within sports. This was just an added bonus to her decision to try out, however, not an independent motive.

“I didn’t try out so I could be the first girl. I didn’t try to break the barriers. I just wanted to play baseball,” Schumacher clarified.

Regardless of her initial motives, Schumacher is still pleased with the potential impact of her joining the team.

“It feels really good because then I know that hopefully other younger girls will know that this has happened before, so that other girls will come out and actually try out and not just go for softball if they love baseball.”

Schumacher’s love of the sport is in no way hidden, and was recognized during tryouts by each of the eight coaches. Napoleon referenced a spark that can be seen within each of the players.

“I think it’s important to understand that the coaches, their sets of eyes, saw the same thing in her that they saw in [the boys],” said Napoleon.

Taylor Daniels, a sophomore, who has played baseball with Schumacher and in the age group above her, describes the same spark.

“She is an awesome person who really works so hard and totally deserves to be on the team,” he said.

Apart from a ‘spark,’ the coaches also look at potential players’ skills in four areas; speed, throwing, batting, and fielding. Each of these areas consist of fundamental skills that they believe create a great player.

Napoleon observed that she was very good at her fundamentals, adding that “baseball is a game that you don’t just pick up in high school.”

Even with a clear passion for baseball, the question of “why not softball” is still one that hovers in the minds of most people.

Napoleon recalls her response to this question as being the blunt and true statement that baseball and softball are two different sports.

Schumacher expands on the difference saying, “It’s the feel of [softball], the dimensions, the ball is bigger, field is smaller. The feel is just so different. I fell in love with baseball when I was younger, and I just never wanted to switch over to softball. They are different sports, and I love baseball.”

With many girls opting to play softball over baseball, this is not Schumacher’s first time being the only girl on a team.

Napoleon acknowledges “she’s grown up with these guys, and she played on teams that some of these guys were a part of growing up”.

Currently Schumacher is playing baseball as an infielder, a position she greatly enjoys.
“I love infield, I like being close to the action and moving quickly” said Schumacher.

Beyond baseball, Schumacher participates in girl’s golf, ice hockey, and the occasional ninja warrior challenge.

Schumacher credits her success with a genuine interest in the sports she plays. “Mentally, I just love every sport I’m doing, so it’s never a chore to practice,” she said.

In the short period of time that Napoleon has gotten to know Schumacher, her potential has already become clear to him.

“She is a special person in terms of her desires and goals,” said Napoleon. “When she puts her mind to things, there’s no telling what she can do.”