Sladek trims suitors, picks Huskies
MHS incoming senior Renee Sladek has made up her mind about her future in collegiate sports.
Sladek – a three-sport star in volleyball, basketball and track – has decided to pursue hoops with her usual single-minded determination and she has picked Northern Illinois University as her school of choice.
“Two Fridays ago, I went to a camp, and I got to see the coach (Kathi Bennett) a lot and we just clicked,” Sladek said. “I met all the players and they’re very nice. It’s an awesome group of girls and great coaches, so I’m excited to get there and get going.”
Sladek had “quite a few” NCAA D1 schools express interest in her, and “it went down a little bit, but not that much” when she blew out the ACL joint in her knee last winter. She’s solidly on the road to recovery, with no set-backs whatsoever.
“It’s on schedule,” she said. “It’s pretty good, like 75%. I’m going to try doing volleyball, basketball and track (at MHS).
“(NIU) offered me before I got hurt and they stuck with me the whole time. They said they would hold it for me. They were very respectful and showed confidence in me. That was big.”
Coach Bennett is the daughter of Dick Bennett (UW-GB, UW-Madison, U of Washington) and sister to Tony (UVA).
“She’s outstanding,” Sladek said. “She makes you feel like you’re home.
“She’s just got there two years ago and they’re getting better and better.”
MHS basketball coach Melissa Yuska concurred, “Kathi is just a great all-around person. She’s very passionate about the game. When you talk to her and watch her coach, it makes you want to be a part of it.”
Yuska, not surprisingly, backed Sladek’s choice of sports.
“Realistically she could have played any one of those sports at the next level, but you’ve got to go with what you love. As she’s gotten better, she’s enjoyed basketball more and more. She has an instinct for the game. She does things that can’t be taught, and she has a presence on the floor that makes our whole team better.
“Just to show the character she has, she has been coming to volleyball and basketball league and still being a leader. She has to watch when her heart is dying to play.”
Sladek is making lemonade.
“It’s been hard, but I’ve also learned a lot,” she said. “I get to see games from a different perspective. I’ve learned a lot about my teammates and about the game.”
She will apply that new info her senior year, then jump fully into the NIU scene.
“I have no idea (if she’ll be asked to red-shirt), but I hope I can play right away,” Sladek said. “I’ll probably be a forward.”
Renee was named the co-Player of the Year as a junior in the Valley, despite missing most of the conference season. At the time she went down, she was leading the league in points (18.3 ppg) and rebounds (10.3 rpg) and was third in assists (3.0 apg).
NIU posted a 7-23 record in 2012-13, with a 2-14 mark in the Mid-American Conference.