Emma Schroeder is a standout on the golf course and in the classroom.
She had a stroke average of 79.6 over 15 rounds last season – the third-best pace for a sophomore in the Purdue Fort Wayne program's 16-year history – and was among the school's list of Top 50 and Exemplar students for academics, cocurricular activities and impact in the community. She's also made the Summit League's Academic Honor Roll and been a Women's Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar while at PFW.
While balancing academics and college athletics can be a chore for some, it comes naturally to the 20-year-old Homestead graduate.
“I have never really struggled with that,” she said. “I think I picked a major that I'm so interested in that I really like to learn about it. And I've also always grown up with the mentality of (putting) academics first. I always want to do really good in the classroom, while also focusing on stuff on the course.”
Schroeder is majoring in communication sciences and disorders, with the aim of becoming a speech pathologist.
“When I was younger, we had a skills class and I found speech therapy and I was like, 'Wow,' and I just stuck with it,” she said. “You can take it in so many different channels; you can be in the hospital and the nursing home and school, or you can have your own practice. So, I thought that was really nice and what I wanted to do.”
Schroeder is entering her junior year at PFW, but she's on pace to graduate at the end of it and then pursue two years of graduate school.
“When we talk about golf, it seems like Emma comes up with more questions because she's just so inquisitive,” Mastodons coach Matt Zedrick said. “You have to be extra smart about what you tell her because it could lead down a rabbit hole of questions, which is good because you know she's so curious about becoming a better player. It's fun to be around.”
The Mastodons should be poised for a big season as they join the Horizon League, especially after lone senior Linnzie Richner, a NorthWood graduate, determined she would return for a fifth year of competition.
Last season, which included a full slate of tournaments in the fall and two in the spring before the coronavirus pandemic halted play, saw sophomore Laura Caetano average 76.4 over 10 rounds, junior Holly Anderson at 77.7 over 15 rounds, Richner at 78.5 over 15 rounds, sophomore Kennedy Brooker at 82 over 15 rounds, sophomore Sarah Lewis at 84.6 over 10 rounds and sophomore Luiza Caetano at 91 over seven rounds.
Schroeder and freshman Sydney Rybolt, another Homestead grad who redshirted, were the only Fort Wayne natives on the roster.
“We have a bright future for the next year, and the next couple of years,” Schroeder said. “That's really nice and I think it's good to have a competitive team because we keep each other competitive, on our toes and working hard.”
The Mastodons tied for fourth at their last spring tournament, the Benbow Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida, at which Richner a program-record 69 en route to finishing in third place individually over 36 holes at 149. Schroeder carded an 82 and a 77 and took 23rd place.
“In the fall, we broke a bunch of records,” Schroeder said, noting a tournament in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where the Mastodons combined for a 912 and shattered PFW's 54-hole record by 28 strokes to tie for 10th place.
“Coming into spring season, we were really geared up and we were ready to go. ... We were in the airport coming back (from Jacksonville) and were just standing there and a bunch of (news) kept coming out and our coach was like, 'I don't know what's going to happen.' Then he got the call right before we're about to take off that we wouldn't be coming back (because of COVID-19), so that was really disappointing especially because we'd been playing so well.”
Schroeder, who helped Homestead to a fifth-place finish at the 2017 IHSAA state finals, has a career PFW stroke average of 80.8 over 38 rounds, including a 81.7 in 2018-19 when she and Lewis (80.6) broke the program's freshman records.
“For (Schroeder), It's really just having a belief in herself and knowing she's as good as what her potential shows,” said Zedrick, adding Schroeder's length and iron game are solid. “She's in this place where it's like, once she takes this next step then the sky's the limit.”
Schroeder's sisters have both played college golf; Rosie for Saint Francis and Betsy for Huntington.
Emma, who normally plays locally at Chestnut Hills, Pine Valley and Cherry Hill, tied for 25th at the Women's State Amateur Championship, posting a 54-hole 22-over 238, including a 75, at Old Oakland Golf Club in Indianapolis last week.
Mental focus is among the things she's trying to sharpen up.
“You always have the thoughts in the back of your mind,” she said. “Like, you struggle with being positive sometimes or not always having the greatest thoughts right before you hit shots. So, I think it's about getting that under control. That can really help to stay positive and play better.”
Working the mind and golf? No problem for Schroeder.