March 3, 2013
by Aimee Dulebohn, MSU Athletic Communications Staff Assistant
When it comes to senior forward Courtney Schiffauer, intensity is the name of the game. Her self-declared "hard-nosed" style of play gives her an edge on the court that leaves many teams vulnerable. Yet, there is more Schiffauer than her on-court persona.
Among other things, the native of Boardman, Ohio, was attracted to Michigan State and the atmosphere that surrounded the women's program.
"I knew that MSU had a good fan base and they appreciate women's basketball here," said Schiffauer. "Coach Merchant really made it feel like home, even though it was four hours away. I just liked the atmosphere and the people around me. The athletics here is just a winning atmosphere. There's a lot of pride that goes with being able to play for Michigan State"
Though a devoted three-sport athlete at Boardman High School, when Schiffauer was not competing, she tapped into her creative side.
"I really like to paint. I haven't in a while, but I do paint. I do acrylic paintings for my family. Besides painting, I used to dance for nine years. I did everything from tap to ballet and baton twirling. My background growing up was dance. I didn't get into basketball until I was in fourth grade."
Schiffauer has had a roller coaster career at Michigan State. After a great start to her sophomore year, she was declared out for the season after tearing her ACL in practice. Having gone through the injury, Schiffauer provides insight for those on team that faced the same issues this season.
"I try to be there for the people who are injured now," Schiffauer said. "I do know what it feels like to sit out a whole year. You just try to keep those who are injured as engaged as possible, and that carries over to the people playing. It's a long season. It's hard, especially for the younger players, to really stay in it and stay with it when it comes to February because they're missing home, they're missing family. I just try to keep everyone together."
Though she may be known as the enforcer on the court, many people may not know Schiffauer has a softer side. Her love of working with children influenced her decision to pursue a degree in elementary education.
"I get along with little kids very well," said Schiffauer. "I don't know why; people don't know why because I can be kind of a mean person. I just get along with them and they like me. I just like the feeling of teaching when someone catches on and gets it. When I was working in the classrooms the past couple years, the younger kids love the teacher and look up to them. I'm looking forward to being able to be that person to help them grow up."
A tremendous asset to the team in more ways than one, Schiffauer was named an MSU captain for the second-straight year. She has been getting valuable experience for her future teaching career helping her teammates on and off the court.
"Being a captain brings a lot of leadership," said Schiffauer. "Communication is a big thing. Jas(mine Thomas) and Klarissa (Bell) are also captains; we're all usually quiet people, but I think just taking on the role of being a communicator on and off the court is a big part. I try to bring as much energy to the game as possible. I just want to be a leader."
Without a doubt, her intangible contributions are what make her the steady back bone of the team. Head coach Suzy Merchant recognizes the value that Schiffauer has brought to the table.
"From a standpoint of a coach, what may not make a stat sheet, she brings so much energy and toughness to our team that it does carry over," said Merchant. "She really has done an amazing job of using her skill set and toughness and sharing that with the rest of the team and putting an expectation that this is BCS basketball and you better be tough. She bordered on extremely competitive to sometimes raging and. She got older she changed the rage piece to the competitive piece, but she walks a fine line every game. I think that has shown her maturity. You need a tough guy on your team and she's it for us."
With all that she has gone through, Schiffauer acknowledges the maturity she's gained through since the beginning of her career at Michigan State.
"Freshman year, I was kind of clueless. I just went out and did whatever they told me to do. Now, I'm more intellectual about the game. It's not just going out and playing pickup basketball; there are a lot of things that go into it. I think I just matured a lot over the past five years as a person and as a basketball player. I just grew up."
Schiffauer has definitely made the most of her final season, putting up the most points in a single season of her career in addition to career-high totals in rebounds, steals and assists. With the team's tournament run quickly approaching, Schiffauer hopes to have left a memorable mark on her team.
"I want to be remembered as someone who always worked hard for what they got and just being a friend, being a nice person; someone who was there for their teammates and worked hard on the court," Schiffauer said.
With a demanding schedule of a full-time student-athlete, Schiffauer looks to make up for lost time over the upcoming summer before returning to East Lansing next fall for student teaching
"This summer, I plan on traveling all over the United States to see friends and family. I just want to hang out at home; I haven't had a full summer at home since 2007 or 2008. So it will be nice to have all summer with my family."
Looking back, she recognizes her time at MSU is special and an once-in-a-lifetime experience that cannot be found anyplace else on earth.
"Being a part of Michigan State basketball, my favorite part is just the fans, the crowd for the games-you'll never get anything like that again. Even if you go play overseas, you don't get that anywhere else for women's basketball right now."
A dynamic player and well-rounded individual, Schiffauer's best advice is one that she has managed to follow on and off the court.
"Just be yourself," said Schiffauer. "Don't change for anybody no matter what. Always be yourself."