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MSU’s Shumski masters time

DRIVING FORCE — Minnesota State University, Mankato forward Rachel Shumski (45) drives around University of Sioux Falls defender Jacey Huinker during NCAA Division II basketball action last season. Shumski plans to complete her master’s during her upcoming final hoops season. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Timm)

GRANADA — Mastering the possibilities.

Minnesota State University forward Rachel Shumski epitomizes Mastercard’s slogan when one takes a glance at her impressive academic and athletic resume’s.

While the three-sport prep extraordinaire from Granada-Huntley-East Chain High School is technically a redshirt senior-to-be from a basketball eligibility perspective, Shumski already earned her bachelor’s degree in business management — with an emphasis in human resources — in December.

In fact, the Mavericks’ three-time Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference all-academic selection actually closed out the second half of the 2019-20 Division II hardwood campaign while getting a jumpstart on her master’s in business administration degree.

Of course, by utilizing her trademark time-efficient work ethic, Shumski actually doubled her academic course load during the spring to reduce the standard length of time to merit a master’s by a full semester.

“I took 12 credits last semester, but the recommended amount is usually six,” said Shumski, who plans to carry 10 credits in the fall before taking a dozen again in the spring of 2021. “My (university) adviser told me that typically people finish this master’s program in two years, but my goal was a year and a half, with my (basketball) eligibility entering into the equation.

“The possibility definitely made me give some thought to coming back for a master’s while being able to regain the year I lost due to a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus during my sophomore season.”

The four-time Sentinel All-Area high school basketball selection and two-time Player of the Year averaged 4.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 27 games played — including 11 starts — during her freshman basketball season in 2016-17, as MSU posted a 16-11 overall record.

Unfortunately, Shumski suffered a season-ending knee injury during an intersquad scrimmage just three days prior to the 2017-18 opening tipoff.

“Everything happens for a reason,” said Shumski. “There were definitely learning lessons from the whole experience, including the relationships that I developed with our trainer (Cailey Priem) and two of my teammates (Maddy Olson and Emmaline Polson) who I was rehabbing with at the time.

“You appreciate always having someone on your side, motivating you to work hard in order to make a full recovery. You also realize we sometimes take things for granted, like walking, and how we need to appreciate all the little things as well as the bigger aspects of life.”

Shumski, Polson and Olson all returned to the Taylor Center in Mankato to help power the Mavericks’ women’s basketball team to a 14-13 record in 2018-19 before improving to 18-11 overall in 2019-20.

Shumski netted MSU’s fifth-best scoring clip of 8.3 points per game and second-best rebounding mark of 5.9 during her second full collegiate season before producing the Mavericks’ No. 2 board total (136/4.7 rpg) and sixth-best scoring pace (7.0 ppg) during this past winter.

“Our coaches don’t care for the word ‘balanced’ when referring to our (individual) statistics. Our team philosophy is that we’re all capable of contributing and that’s what helps us succeed overall,” said Shumski, who also generated 30 assists and 30 steals in 18.7 minutes per game in 2019-20. “When we play as a true team, we’re very difficult to stop.

“Even in my role as our sixth player, I want to excel on and off the court for the good of the team. A number of times, we (reserves) have helped us make vital turnarounds in games throughout the season, so everyone contributes.”

Now, beside working two summertime jobs — Kwik Trip and Green Mill restaurant in Fairmont, serving as a graduate teaching assistant for a business preparation class at MSU and staying in shape via Maverick head coach Emilee Thiesse’s workouts, what’s on Shumski’s mind heading into her final collegiate basketball season?

“To win the regular-season conference championship would show our consistency, and then to advance to the NCAA tournament would be a nice way to close out my (athletic) career,” said a smiling Shumski. “From a career perspective, I want to be an HR (human resources) manager, but I’m not sure in what business realm.”

Whatever path Shumski takes in life, one can count on her mastering whatever comes her way.

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