Priscilla Schmid woke up on April 20 to a missed FaceTime call from IU women’s golf coach Clint Wallman. The junior, back home in Montevideo, Uruguay, after the spring season was canceled due to COVID-19, turned on the lights and called him right back.
After some small talk, Wallman delivered news that no IU women’s golfer had heard since 2003.
Wallman told Schmid that she had been named an All-American honorable mention for the 2019-20 season.
The early morning lethargy she said she woke up with instantly evaporated. After the conversation died down, she searched the internet to figure out what exactly she had won.
“I knew what the All-American thing was, but I never knew in detail what it was because I never thought it was something I could accomplish,” Schmid said. “I started doing my research, and it was even more exciting to see how important it was.”
The Women’s Golf Coaches Association announced publicly the following day that Schmid, along with 43 others in the NCAA, were recognized for playing the best, most consistent golf throughout the season.
“This is much more about recognizing her consistent strong play over the course of the year,” Wallman said. “Players can have great tournaments, but this award shows more than just that.”
Schmid averaged a score of 71 in the fall, which was on pace to set a program record. She captured her first ever tournament victory at the Landfall Tradition on Oct. 27 and finished in second at the Branch Law Firm Invitational on Sept. 10.
All of this was achieved while battling her biggest opponent — her health. She had been in pain since the summer but never thought it would linger as long as it did.
In June, Schmid was competing for the Swiss team, as she holds dual citizenship in Switzerland and Uruguay. During a workout, she experienced back pain after pulling back on the rowing machine.
She hoped it would go away the next morning, but instead it hurt even more. She visited multiple doctors who provided different medicine, but she never received an MRI.
She flew back to Bloomington in August in preparation for her junior season. Despite the pain, Schmid finished in second out of 87 participants in the first school tournament of the year. In fact, she nearly ended her last round in first place, but Pepperdine University senior Momoka Kobori fired a final round eight-under-par to steal the victory.
She avenged that runner-up finish and won the Landfall Tradition after shooting a seven-under-par 209 over three rounds. Her first career victory came as no surprise to Wallman.
“All season, she played fairways and greens,” Wallman said. “She put herself in position at the end of the tournament to win and then hit some clutch putts.”
Despite the success, the back pain never faded.
“I had to convince myself that I was fine during the fall,” Schmid said. “In season, I was taking meds to help the pain but didn’t think I had anything. I thought it was just in my brain."
Once winter break approached, she competed for her native country, Uruguay, in Paraguay. Once again, the irritation in her leg sparked up.
“I was in the middle of a match play, and I felt like my leg was not functioning completely,” Schmid said. “I could barely walk.”
Not wasting any more time, she received an MRI immediately after the round in Paraguay. It showed two herniated discs in her lower back, causing aches in her legs and back. Schmid had an itch that her spring season was over before it began.
Schmid was forced to sit out of all three tournaments that IU women’s golf participated in 2020 before COVID-19 brought the season to a halt. She wanted to compete, but she said she realizes time away from competition is the best medicine.
“I couldn’t do the workouts anymore because the weights would just make it worse,” Schmid said. “So I started therapy instead.”
Schmid is rehabbing her back in hopes to be ready for September but knows rushing the process would only hurt it. Once healthy, the two-time Big Ten women’s golfer of the week will be ready for her senior season.
“I hope to get back as soon as possible,” Schmid said. “But my focus is on my health now. Once that improves, I’ll be back.”
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