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01/10/03 Schrader builds college reputation block by block

By Jim Mandelaro
Democrat and Chronicle

(January 10, 2003) — Stacy Schrader handles rejection well. In fact, it’s the strongest part of her game.

The Fairport High graduate is a blocking machine for Division II Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Last year, she blocked 159 shots, the most of any woman in the nation in any division and more than all but one man (Wojciech Myrda of Division I Louisiana-Monroe had 172).

She rejected 33 more shots than her closest female pursuer, Vanesa Hayden of Division I Florida.

This year, Schrader continues to turn the Salt City into Swat City. She already has 66 blocks in 11 basketball games for the Dolphins (8-3), including 15 in a game against Bridgewater.

“Her shot blocking has brought another realm to our team,” third-year coach Jeanne Dupree says. “People put up shots and they don’t even get to the rim.”

Schrader doesn’t just send shots into the bleachers, she puts plenty of her own into the basket. The 6-21/2 senior center leads Le Moyne with a .640 shooting percentage and ranks second on the team in scoring at 14.2 per game. She has a soft touch around the basket and has developed a baby hook shot.

She also leads in rebounds at 7.9.

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Stacy Schrader, right, has emerged as one of the nation’s top shot blockers at Le Moyne College. The Fairport High graduate is a basketball blocking machine for Division II Le Moyne College in Syracuse.

“I’ve always been a shot blocker,” she says. “It’s always been one of the best assets I have. So I’m happy to be able to contribute in other ways, too.”

Schrader honed her skills in the backyard of her parents’ home in Fairport, where she played regularly with her dad, Dan, and older brothers Mike and Chris.

All three played varsity ball at Fairport. Her brothers both played junior college ball at Cobleskill, and Mike played at Division II Mansfield, Pa.

“It would be me and my dad against my two brothers,” she says. “My brothers also took me to the (Fairport) rec center. We’d work on shooting and post moves.”

The hoop bloodlines extended to Schrader’s maternal grandfather, George Ratkovicz, who played in the American Basketball League (forerunner to the NBA) for the Rochester Royals and the Syracuse Nationals.

“My grandfather was a huge influence,” Schrader says. “He did so much with basketball and showed me I can do the same.”

Schrader averaged 16.8 points, 10 rebounds and 5.3 blocks while becoming the first Fairport player to score 1,000 points (1,184).

Still, she was not highly recruited by Division I colleges after graduating from high school.

“They thought I was too skinny,” she says.

She did receive interest from Boston College, Canisius, Manhattan and St. Bonaventure after leading the Red Raiders to a third consecutive Section V Class A title and a second straight state semifinal berth.

“Boston College loved me,” she says. “They really wanted me to come there and sent me so many letters. But I just wasn’t sure I wanted to go.”

Schrader wasn’t sure she was going to play anywhere after high school.

“I’d had so much success with my team at Fairport,” she says, “and I wasn’t sure if it was going to turn out like that when I went to college. Was I going to go to a team that was 0-20?”

While Schrader debated her future, Monroe Community College coach Tim Parrinello set his sights on the skinny star with the endless arms.

He recruited her for eight mostly fruitless months, attending her games and calling her house until she finally snapped at him one June evening.

“I guess she was in a bad mood,” Parrinello said while recalling the incident.

The coach offered her a $2,500 athletic scholarship and, like so many of Schrader’s opponents, was rejected. Then, two days before school started, he drove to Eastview Mall where Schrader worked and made a last-ditch plea.

This time, Schrader said yes.

The result was a 65-5 record in two seasons, with a two-point loss in the national championship her freshman year and a JUCO title in a rout the following season.

So much for 0-20.

Schrader averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds at MCC and set school records for career blocks (247) and single-game blocks (15).

After leaving MCC, Schrader received more interest from Division I schools but was turned off by the high-pressure, win-at-all costs atmosphere.

She visited Le Moyne and fell in love with the campus.

Last season, in addition to leading all collegiate players with 5.13 blocks per game, she averaged 11.2 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Dolphins.

“I didn’t know how well she could blocks shots,” Dupree says. “I just knew she was very tall, with long arms.”

Very long arms.

Schrader’s wingspan -- measuring the tip of one outstretched finger to another -- is an amazing 79 inches.

That’s 5 inches more than what is considered typical (wingspan usually equals a person’s height).

It’s a problem for opponents, and a problem for Schrader when she tries to buy clothes.

“My arm length is so long that long-sleeve shirts on me are short,” she says. “When I want something, I have to get extra-large shirts, and then those are baggy.”

Some might think that shot blocking is easy, given Schrader’s size and arm length.

Not so.

“She has great timing in her shot blocking and that compliments her athleticism,” Dupree says. “There’s a skill to it, and she has it.”

E-mail address: jmand@DemocratandChronicle.com