Degree of difficulty.
At a diving competition, it is one of the factors a judge considers before deciding upon a score.
It also is something Cor Jesu senior Faith Schmidt considers before deciding which endeavor to pursue.
A three-sport athlete in swimming and diving, track and field and field hockey, Schmidt has excelled at the most high-flying aspects of each sport while challenging herself with the most difficult coursework academically.
Schmidt, who will attend Harvard University in the fall on an Air Force-ROTC scholarship and study engineering, is the Post-Dispatch Scholar Athlete for Cor Jesu Academy.
“Faith joined the swim team to dive. She joined track to pole vault. Faith flies planes,” Cor Jesu Latin teacher Jim Gioia said. “It’s almost as if she picks the most daring and frightening option possible and confidently learns how to do it.”
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Schmidt’s love of being airborne began at age 9 when she started diving competitively at the Sunset Hills Swim and Dive club. Slowly, she began to tire of it and stopped completely after watching a Cor Jesu dive meet while in the seventh grade.
“I saw them diving and I thought, ‘I will never be that good,’ ” Schmidt said.
But as a sophomore, after learning that the Cor Jesu team needed divers, she decided to jump headfirst back into the sport.
She became a state qualifier in her first season.
“What I like the most about diving is how much courage it takes and how much attention to detail it takes on each dive,” Schmidt said. “It requires a lot of spatial awareness and precision and I like the mental toughness it trains.”
As a young child, she used to pogo around her house using her brother’s baseball bat, so the spring of her sophomore year, she decided to give pole vaulting a try.
She now is a two-time Metro Women’s Athletic Association champion with a top mark of 9 feet, 6 inches.
“Pole vaulting is definitely the most random (sport) that I got into,” Schmidt said. “There is some point after you start doing it, whether diving or pole vaulting, when it stops being scary and starts becoming really, really fun.”
The scariest position in field hockey is known as the “flyer.” During defensive corners, the flyer lines up next to the goalie and fearlessly sprints out to the player lining up a shot, hoping to block it with her stick.
When the normal flyer for Cor Jesu, senior Caroline Stutte, was forced to quarantine during the Missouri Scholastic Lacrosse Association quarterfinal round, Schmidt unsurprisingly volunteered for the job.
She not only helped in preventing goals on defensive corners but also scored the game winner to send the Chargers to the final four with a 1-0 victory over Lafayette.
“She really stepped up in that role when Stutte was out,” Cor Jesu field hockey coach Audrey Ploesser said. “Faith is not only an extremely talented player but also just an all-around great vocal leader.”
Schmidt led the Chargers in scoring this season with nine goals and six assists, notching hat tricks against Nerinx Hall and Whitfield and earning second team All-Metro honors. She has communicated with the Harvard field hockey coaches and will vie for a walk-on position in the fall.
“They invited me to preseason, but I still have to try out,” Schmidt said. “The hope is that I can play field hockey and still do ROTC and engineering.”
And with the work ethic Schmidt displays in the classroom, there is little doubt that she can handle all three.
“Faith is persistent in that she always works hard, but also that she comes to class with energy and joy every day. It is hard to imagine a student more present and ready to learn,” Gioia said.
Schmidt, whose father is a test pilot for Boeing, plans to join the Air Force and become a pilot after graduating from Harvard.
Her love of physics and desire to understand the interrelatedness of subjects fuel her excellence in the classroom.
“She is an outstanding student in so many ways,” said Colleen Rankowski, who taught Schmidt in honors geometry and integrated AP calculus BC/AP physics. “Her genuine curiosity about how things work, her ability to generalize and make connections between different ideas, her work ethic and her positive attitude all contribute to her success.”