By: BRANDEE BRITT
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Around 2 p.m. (CT) today, University of Iowa women’s basketball seniors Ally Disterhoft, Alexa Kastanek, and Hailey Schneden will run out of the tunnel in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the final time in the regular season.
While they’ve all been on this four-year journey together, their paths to this moment have been drastically different.
Schneden was originally an invited walk-on out of Davenport Assumption High School in Davenport, Iowa. She has played in 25 career games and shot 55.6 percent from the field in her four-year career. Although you might not see her name in the final box score after every game, she has brought countless amounts of joy and laughter to her teammates and coaches, and works diligently in practice to make her teammates better.
“Her name is not big in the stat sheet, but she has provided so much joy in our locker room,” said Bluder. “She has provided laughter and that’s a big role when you’re in a long, difficult season of ups and downs. To have somebody who always brings joy, light spirit, and will doing anything you ask her to do for the good of the team — that is an incredible example.”
Kastanek, a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, has a nickname on the team — Mom. In fact, before interviews and practice on Friday afternoon, Kastanek woke up early to take freshman Makenzie Meyer to an appointment, waited for the appointment to conclude, and then gave Meyer a ride back to class.
“She looks out for everybody else,” Bluder said. “She makes sure everybody has rides and is not scared to hold her teammates accountable.”
Perhaps her biggest example of selflessness comes from the court. Kastanek has played in 127 career games, recorded 21 starts, and made 106 3-pointers. Her role on the court has changed drastically — from role player, to starter, and back again — but her team-first attitude has remained through it all.
“She has had an up and down basketball role, and she has handled it with pride and grace,” said Bluder. “She has tried to find ways to contribute to our team no matter what her role is on the court, and I admire that a lot because it’s a hard role to be in.”
Then there is Disterhoft, the Iowa City, Iowa, native who is one of only two Hawkeyes to score more than 2,000 career points. The two-time second-team All-Big Ten honoree has her name etched throughout the Iowa basketball record books, ranking second all-time in career scoring, eighth in 3-pointers made, 11th in rebounds, and 12th in career blocks
As decorated as she is on the court, she may be even more so off. Disterhoft, the 2015-16 Academic All-American of the Year, is a three-time academic all-district selection, and a two-time academic All-American, Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten, and WBCA Allstate Good Works Team honoree.
“Ally has approached basketball the same way she does her academics — she is an incredibly driven young woman,” said Bluder. “She is a perfectionist almost to a fault sometimes, and is a competitor. She never lets down. It’s the same drive in the classroom that has made her so successful in what she brings on the court.”
While their paths to this day have been unique, all three seniors have made a lasting impact on their fellow teammates and coaching staff.
“They are all remarkable young women,” said Bluder. “They have all done well academically, but they have had three different basketball paths. Academically and character-wise, they are top-notch individuals.”