Carla (Schuck) Wollin’s motor never quit for Worthington Community College basketball
Even now, 38 years later, Carla (Schuck) Wollin isn’t entirely sure why she was recruited out of Little Rock High School to play for Coach Mike Fury’s Worthington Community College women’s basketball team.
“It’s kind of interesting that I started in Iowa six-on-six basketball, where you couldn’t touch anybody. And I wasn’t even defense. I was offense,” said the 56-year-old former WCC superstar last week.
As a practitioner of the six-on-six prep game at the northwest Iowa school, Schuck wasn’t paid a lot of attention by other colleges because nobody could see how she played defense. The Iowa game, at that time, was a half-court game where forwards only played offense and guards only played dee. But Fury came to watch her play, and one thing stood out.
“Her competitiveness is almost what made her a step above everybody,” recalled the veteran coach today.
Fury chose well. The 1982 Little Rock graduate came to Worthington and led WCC to a state championship in 1984. From Worthington she continued her outstanding basketball career at Mankato State University where she averaged 16.5 points per game and helped her team to the 1986 North Central Conference championship. She was later named to the Maverick Hall of Fame.
She finished her Worthington Community College career as the team’s all-time leading scorer while being chosen a 1984 Kodak All-American.
A literal dynamo on the court, the 5-6 Schuck will be remembered as a tireless bundle of energy who scored in bunches and never, ever took the time to relax on the floor. She learned quickly how to play defense, too, harassing opposing ball handlers continually while finishing in the top 12 of Lady Jay rebounders all-time.
At the 1984 state tournament, Schuck was incredible. She scored 32 points with 17 rebounds in one game, scored 24 points with 23 rebounds in another, and also had a 30-point, 13-rebound effort.
Today Carla and her husband Jeff reside in Litchfield, where they’ve been for more than 30 years. From 1986 to 1989 they lived in the Worthington area where Jeff was a business teacher at District 518. Jeff, an outstanding baseball player who once played for the Worthington Cubs, has coached the sport at Litchfield for 30 years and in October was inducted into the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
In March, Carla and Jeff became grandparents for the first time.
In Litchfield, Carla has worked in the nursing field at Meeker Memorial Hospital for 20 years. She completed a Community Health Educator degree when she was at MSU and enjoys her life.
“Love it,” she said. “I’m hoping this is where I’ll be when I retire.”
Worthington basketball fans who remember Carla Schuck on the hardwood might be hard-pressed to picture her as a 56-year-old -- and a grandmother, at that.
Wollin admits she doesn’t necessarily feel her age.
“I feel like I’m 31. That was my number in high school and in both colleges. And that’s my favorite number,” she said.
She certainly had a lot of success with it. And she credits, to a degree, her MSU teammate Pat Burns -- who starred at Heron Lake-Okabena in high school -- for helping her make the transition from junior college to the Mankato school. It was Burns, she said, who’d heard of her exploits in Worthington and told her Mav coach to be sure to give her a call.
The Division II level, Wollin recalls, “was a lot more physical than it was at Worthington.” But she took to it like a pro, having already achieved greatness at the lower level. By then, nobody had to teach her how to play with fire and emotion.
Even at 56, Carla Wollin played basketball with other women in a pick-up league in Litchfield. That is, until the COVID-19 epidemic shut it down.
“I just really like basketball,” she says, looking back. “My parents can attest to it, how much I shot baskets when I became more serious about it.”
As a youngster, Carla remembers battering a hoop on the side of the family garage at their rural home. The court surface consisted of gravel, so she would shovel off the snow in wintertime and toss the bigger rocks to the side in the summer. After she began playing competitively, she kept in shape by running to the cow pen in heavy boots.
She says she’s excited about introducing her grandchild, Remi, to basketball. And she’s proud of what her husband has accomplished in his baseball career, adding that he’s still the “mild mannered” guy he was when they lived in Worthington.
As for herself, she laughs, “Some things change in 30 years, but some don’t. And I’m still competitive, too.”
She says she remembers Worthington fondly, and misses it sometimes. The Worthington Community College team was like family, she said.
“I just remember my teammates, and Mike Fury. Great people,” she recalled. “And then winning the state championship was really awesome.”