Unbeaten Schaeffer Academy tennis team having a winning walk with God

Throwing opponents is that this Schaeffer boys team isn’t just composed of boys. There are also three girls on it, senior Annie Orvis, junior Faith Monson and sophomore Kate Friese. Schaeffer has done this since the program started in 2016, the Christian school in northeastern Rochester so small that it needs a sprinkling of girls to have a team.

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The Lions wouldn’t be where they are without them. And where they are right now is approximately where they predicted they’d be at this stage of their careers — 8-0 and an outside threat to unseat Rochester Lourdes as the champions of Section 1A. At least for a season.

Schaeffer Academy Head Coach Kady Monson on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, at Rochester Athletic Club in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Schaeffer Academy Head Coach Kady Monson on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, at Rochester Athletic Club in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / [email protected])

“I appreciate those girls on our team so much,” said singles player Luke Bothun, a senior who’s in his fifth year with the Schaeffer tennis team. “They definitely create a different (dynamic) on our team. They are skilled and fun, and they go out and whip some butt. They take a lot of people by surprise. It’s fun to see boys’ reactions when they see them in our lineup.”

Schaeffer Academy’s Pierre O’Driscoll serves during a No. 1 singles match against John Marshall on Monday, April 26, 2021, at John Marshall High School in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Schaeffer Academy’s Pierre O’Driscoll serves during a No. 1 singles match against John Marshall on Monday, April 26, 2021, at John Marshall High School in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / [email protected])

Bothun appreciates how the opposition is reacting to his team — period — these days. The uneducated ones don’t expect much from them, many having never heard of Schaeffer Academy. Then they look over and see that Annie Orvis is “manning” the No. 3 singles spot, Faith Monson is at No. 4 singles and Kate Friese is at No. 3 doubles.

Schaeffer was at a tournament recently where it faced three large Class AA schools — Irondale, Coon Rapids and Anoka. Irondale and Coon Rapids didn’t know what hit them, losing to the Lions 7-0 and 6-1, respectively. Anoka put up a strong fight, but still fell 4-3.

Staying humble

Above all, Schaeffer coach Kady Monson preaches humility and respect in this faith-based program. But she admits to some visceral pride with what went on that day in Coon Rapids. She, too, was a bit blown away.

“We had no idea what to anticipate,” Monson said. “You look at it on paper, you see how big (Coon Rapids, Irondale and Anoka) are in grades 9-12, and you say, ‘How will we ever compete?’ But then you tell them to just play their hearts out and see what happens.”

Schaeffer Academy’s Luke Bothun returns a volley during a No. 2 singles match against John Marshall on Monday, April 26, 2021, at John Marshall High School in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Schaeffer Academy’s Luke Bothun returns a volley during a No. 2 singles match against John Marshall on Monday, April 26, 2021, at John Marshall High School in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / [email protected])

What happened is that Schaeffer stole the show that day in Coon Rapids. What also happened was that the Lions’ pride — something that Monson always asks them to keep in check — was put to the test.

Yes, Monson wants matches won, and being a human being, she too loves to compete and prevail. But she is always digging for more than that and knows that in a perfect sports world, both can be accomplished.

So far, so very good for this 2021 Lions edition.

Her players practice what she preaches.

“Mrs. Monson is such a blessing for everyone on our team,” Bothun said. “We couldn’t ask for more. She has been playing tennis forever and has such a great background in it. She has all the facts of the game and also knows the mental toughness part of the game.

“And I really like how she points us first and foremost on our walk with the Lord. We want to glorify God through our play.”

As for the girls on this team, they are also looking for that spiritual walk. And not to be prideful about it, but they believe they might be just the thing to keep this “boys” team on track.

Schaeffer Academy's Annie Orvis returns the ball to Lourdes' Marjan Veldic during a tennis match Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Kutzky Park in Rochester.

Schaeffer Academy’s Annie Orvis returns the ball to Lourdes’ Marjan Veldic during a tennis match Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Kutzky Park in Rochester.

They’re sure happy to be given the opportunity.

“Playing with these guys is a lot of fun,” said Orvis, in her fifth year in the program. “They bring us a lot of silliness and fond memories. But us girls can add a different aspect of fun and character. Maybe we can keep them humble and they can build us up as players. That makes all of us better off the court.”