Jaidyn Schomp admits she was filled with nerves when she began her career. Add in a trip to McPherson and playing alongside a Derby roster that was three points shy of a state title and the feelings were understandable.
Standing as a 6-foot-3 guard/forward added to that mix of emotions, but the once nervous freshman has grown into a foundational piece of the Lady Panther roster.
The Missouri Western signee helped hoist Derby’s first state championship as a freshman before the team finished third as a sophomore. A whirlwind of emotions came with last year’s state cancellation, seeing its season end before it could play in the state semifinals for a fourth-straight year.
“This road has made me grateful for every game I get to play with these ladies,” Schomp said. “It’s every day we practice and get to spend together. I want to live in the moment and not worry about the future or what’s in the past.”
Much like some of her teammates, Schomp presents a tantalizing package of skills with her length and ability to play all five positions. In fact, she has the second-best 3-point shooting percentage of any returning player on the Derby roster.
Every summer, Karsak calculates “gym rat” points for her players and Schomp fits the bill for work outside of November through March. While she said she took a few days off to digest how last season ended, she has been preparing almost daily for her final go-around as a Lady Panther.
“I realized there wasn’t anything I could do to change it,” she said. “I had to do what I could do to keep my game up, get ready for summer ball and be ready for my senior year. Hopefully we get to finish it better than we did last year.”
Karsak said her senior passed the eye test from an early age. Seeing the “hooper” in her, the longtime Derby coach saw an advanced skill set that she wanted to help refine.
“Even at a young age and being taller … she could play like a guard more than she did a post player,” Karsak said. “She could guard anyone on the perimeter and also take the ball to the hole.”
At the same time, Karsak said her senior has adopted the mindset of being able to fill any need in any game.
“Jaidyn has a huge heart,” Karsak said. “She has been a part of some fantastic experiences here and I know she wants that for everyone else … if she’s hitting seven 3-pointers, that’s great, but she’s just as happy with a win.”
Even as she prepares to put a bow on her Derby career in March, the ties to her alma mater won’t leave her. Missouri Western coach Candi Whittaker played alongside Karsak’s younger sister at Texas Tech and has built a relationship with the Derby coach over conversations since.
Karsak also praised Schomp for putting each school down on paper and finding her best fit.
“It’s a small world and Candi and I have had some great conversations about Jaidyn,” Karsak said. “I know Jaidyn feels like she is really connected with the coaching staff there. It’s all about fit and experience.”
With no more than 19 games remaining in her Derby career, her experience has prepared her for the unknowns of what this season could bring.
“No. 1, we have to stay together,” Schomp said. “We have to play together and we can’t split up to our own islands. We have to be on the same page and have the same game plan in our minds.”