MAYER – There’s nothing better than to have a coach who is also one of your best friends. That’s that case for Mayer Lutheran seniors Anna Baumann and Lexi Schermann.
While softball is Baumann’s sport and basketball is Schermann’s sports, that doesn’t stop them from helping each other on the court and field.
“Sports is something that brings Lexi and I closer together,” Baumann said. “Of course, we would still be good friends without them, but our interest in sports is just one of the many things we have in common. It’s great that the two of us get to experience all the highs and lows that sports bring as we can cry together or celebrate together. Lexi is just a great teammate and friend to have.”
The beginning of the friendship for Baumann and Schermann came at the beginning of their junior year. Schermann just transferred in and played volleyball and basketball. Baumann just played volleyball and softball. From the start, the two hit it off and began to grow their friendship in more ways than one.
“During our summer volleyball workout program is when Anna and I started to become friends,” Schermann said. “During the volleyball season of our junior year, I began to convince Anna to give basketball a try even though she had not played since she was in grade school. In the fall, there was a 3-on-3 league and I told Anna she should play on my team so she could get an idea if she would be interested in basketball or not. At the 3 on 3 league, I immediately saw our relationship transition from off the court to on the court. Even though Anna hadn’t played basketball since she was in eighth grade I trusted her because I saw her hustle and heart to play hard. Whenever I play with Anna, I know she will give it her all. During the fall league she hustled after every loose ball which made it easy to connect with her. After one week of fall league she realized not only that she wanted to play basketball, but that she would need a pair of knee pads.”
With basketball being Schermann’s top sport, getting Baumann to come out for the team was just one of her duties.
“Anna knew that she could approach me with any questions she had, or if she needed something cleared up,” Schermann said. “It was easy to communicate with Anna because she wanted to grow and improve in basketball. When I told her something to try she would try it out the next time she had the opportunity to. Anna and I would have many conversations about basketball, so it helped her gain a better understanding of the game and it improved her basketball knowledge. It was super fun being able to teach Anna something I was passionate about, and watching her improve each season.”
Playing basketball wasn’t something Baumann planned on in high school. In the end, spending more time with Schermann became an intriguing option.
“Coming into my freshman year, I had my mind made up that there was no way I was going to play basketball in high school,” Baumann said. “But the summer before our junior year is when Lexi and I started talking and becoming closer friends. Junior year was also when I started missing basketball. Lexi would talk about basketball quite a bit and tell me of all the good times she had already had after only one year of Mayer Lutheran basketball. It did sound fun and I decided to pick the ball back up again and try out that winter.”
While getting back into the game for the first time since junior high, Baumann had a lot of things to catch up on. Right by her side was Schermann doing anything she could to help.
“Lexi taught me mainly how to strengthen my defense like how to use my speed to my advantage and how to read the offense,” Baumann said. “She shared a lot of her court knowledge with me, which is honestly something I did not have at all. I was trying to play varsity basketball with the basketball IQ of an 8th grader. There was much improvement needed.”
With Schermann’s help, Baumann was back playing basketball. Come spring, it would be her chance to return the favor on the softball diamond.
“Lexi helped me improve so much in basketball and I hoped to return the favor when spring came around,” Baumann said. “The coaches and I started by working with Lexi on her throwing, and once she got that down, I could see things starting to click. Even though this was Lexi’s first time playing softball, she learned quickly and her willingness to get better made the process even smoother. I saw her having fun and enjoying the season which I believe is most important.”
Softball was always a sport Schermann wanted to play, but her love for basketball got in the way early on. Playing AAU limited chances for Schermann to do both, that was until her junior season.
“I have wanted to play softball for the longest time, but I never had the chance because it always conflicted with AAU basketball,” Schermann said. “During my junior year, I was able to make my AAU schedule fit into the softball season. Before I knew this, every time softball was brought up Anna would ask if I signed up for softball yet, and after a while of Anna convincing me, I decided to play softball for the first time ever.”
Like Baumann during the basketball season, Schermann was now in Baumann’s world. Although playing softball for the first time brought a few hiccups, Baumann was right there to help her.
“I experienced many struggles during softball, especially my first week,” Schermann said. “I didn’t realize how hard it was to throw a softball until I actually started practicing, and I knew little to nothing about the game. However, Anna helped teach me the mechanics for throwing, batting, and my overall knowledge of the game.”
No matter what sports Baumann and Schermann play together, friendship is always there. Whether in the comfort zone of their own sport or in the others’, the friendship goes beyond the world of sports.
“I think this shows that the type of friendship that Lexi and I have is very genuine, which not all friendships are,” Baumann said. “We truly want to help each other improve and see the other succeed. It has never felt like a competition between us. I have nothing but respect for Lexi when it comes to her as an athlete. She works hard for what she wants and deserves respect and honor.”
“Before Anna and I played sports together, we had a really strong friendship because we shared similar interests,” Schermann added. “By playing sports with each other, it has expanded our relationship. Both on the field and on the basketball court, we experienced highs and lows. Something special about our friendship is that whatever we are experiencing, we are always there supporting one another. I knew that if I make a good play in basketball or softball, Anna will be the first person to give me a high five and say ‘nice job’, and when I make a mistake, she’s the first person to encourage me and tell me I will get the next play. I feel that for both of us it is so rewarding watching each other succeed. When I see Anna make a good play it makes me very proud of her because I realize the dedication and hard work she constantly puts in to get better.”
Sports have brought Baumann and Schermann together over the years. Even though they missed their last season after it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the memories and relationships built along the way can never be taken away.
“I could probably write a book on how many ways Lexi has impacted my life, and not just in regards to sports,” Baumann said. “Her friendship is very important to me. We have a genuine friendship that I believe can last a lifetime. She’s not one of those friends that just comes and goes. She’s a real one. I’m excited to see where her future takes her. She’s gonna do great things and I plan on being right there as she does.”
“Anna is my best friend,” Schermann said. “She always has my back, and she not only helps me grow as a player but as a person, too. Anna pushes me to be the best player and person I can be and whenever one of us does something well, we aren’t afraid to celebrate each other’s successes. Anna has helped me step out of my comfort zone and try new things and she was by my side through it all. Without Anna, I most likely wouldn’t have thought about playing softball, but knowing that she would be there to help me through it was a memorable experience I won’t forget.”