SHABBONA – When the Indian Creek girls basketball team started practice in November, Timberwolves coach Paul Muchmore didn’t even know Kate Thuestad was going to be there.
Thuestad, a 2011 Daily Chronicle all-area second-team selection, decided to focus on volleyball last year, playing club during the winter instead of basketball for Indian Creek.
However, she decided she wanted to play her senior season for the Timberwolves, who open play as the No. 4 seed in the Little Ten Conference tournament at 7 p.m. today against Somonauk.
Muchmore had heard rumors about Thuestad coming back, but never tried to pressure her. It still was a surprise when she showed up the first day of practice.
“I said. ‘Great to have you back,’ ” Muchmore said.
Before the 2011-12 season, Thuestad kept wavering on whether she wanted to play her junior season of basketball. As someone who was a Daily Chronicle all-area volleyball selection her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, Thuestad had her sights set on playing collegiate volleyball. She still is leaning toward playing at the Division III level.
It was a tough decision for a player who had such a big role inside as a sophomore. Playing club volleyball and prep basketball would have been possible, but in the end, she wanted to be committed to one sport.
“I went back and forth the whole time,” Thuestad said. “And I know that some girls play club volleyball and basketball, I just didn’t want to be less of a teammate to either team, so I thought it would be better to just do one or the other.”
Playing club volleyball for the Kane County Jrs, based out of LaFox, also meant a 30-minute trip to practice and getting back home at 10:30 p.m. And Thuestad, who makes a habit of watching basketball at home with her family, missed the sport.
When she was wrestling with the decision of whether or not to play basketball for the Timberwolves her senior season, Thuestad said everyone she talked to was supportive no matter what she decided to do.
In the end, Thuestad didn’t want to miss her senior season on the hardwood.
“I realized this would be my last chance to play basketball with my teammates and everything. I did miss basketball, so it was fun to come back,” she said. “... We always watch basketball at my house and it’s a big sport around here in general. I missed playing it and just talking to everybody about it.”
While Muchmore didn’t underestimate the fact his team missed the forward last season, he said players such as Ariel Russell and Samantha Mosley were able to improve in Thuestad’s absence – Russell handling the ball and Mosley in the post.
While Thuestad’s skills as a post player are big for the Timberwolves, Muchmore added that it’s not all Thuestad can bring to the table.
“She works hard, she does what she’s asked of,” Muchmore said. “One thing I realized, I missed her more as a kid and a person than as a player. ... I was happy for her, she did what she wanted to do and that’s what you’ve got to do. But like I said, I think I just missed her more as a kid. She’s a great player to coach because she’s coachable.”