High School Sports

Mother’s illness led Arlington Martin volleyball player to UTA

Claire Schwettmann goes up for a block in a game against Arlington
Claire Schwettmann goes up for a block in a game against Arlington Courtesy Claire Schwettmann

Claire Schwettmann was an all-district setter at Arlington Martin. She made first team the past two years, and was voted the best setter in her district during her sophomore year.

She plays club volleyball with Texas Advantage, ranked third in the nation, and was set to play at Baylor in the fall after signing last November.

It sounds like the typical fairytale for a Division I athlete — yet it was far from it.

Her mother, Debbie, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, died in March. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, and in 2004, became cancer free for the next decade.

“Once she was diagnosed for the second time, I knew I wanted to play somewhere that she would be able to see me play,” Schwettmann said.

The Bears made a three year offer in the spring of 2015, and with her father’s family all from Baylor, her parents believed it was fate. But something didn’t feel right with Schwettmann.

“I remember my mom calling me after she got the e-mail and was so happy for me. I was shocked. We discussed making the visit and once we hung up, I just cried. I didn’t imagine Baylor ever coming into the picture, but like my mom said, they were the only offer I had up to that point and would probably be the best offer I’d get,” she said. “I stayed committed for the next year all the way until this past spring. Throughout that year, I was excited to be going into the Big 12, but I never really had the assuring feeling that Baylor was where I wanted to live and continue my career for the next four years.”

“My mom’s cancer had slowly been spreading and things were really coming into perspective by early this year.”

Schwettmann would continue to play club and get numerous looks, including from Diane Seymour and UT Arlington. After taking an unofficial visit, Seymour made Schwettmann an offer and promised her playing time in the fall.

“I felt so much more excited about UTA than I ever did with Baylor, but opening up to my parents was the toughest part,” she said. “I knew it would break their hearts, but finally we were all on the same page and agreed to start this new beginning with a clean slate.”

A few reasons why Schwettmann switched schools: her mother’s illness, and the proximity of UTA, making it much more easier for her to get to versus Waco.

“Moving away from home had always given me an uneasy feeling because I’d have to make a long drive just to come see her. As the cancer began spreading more quickly, I knew I wanted to be as close to home as possible,” she said. “Moving away from home just didn’t seem like a good option for me anymore. Her being ill definitely had a huge impact on my decision but originally, I never saw myself being happy at Baylor.” 

Schwettmann committed to UTA on April 13, nearly a month after her mother’s passing.

“Not many people feel good about backing out of an opportunity like Baylor, but I feel like I gave myself the best opportunity and I will never regret making this decision,” she said. “I’m most excited to shine at UTA and play every game with my heart for my mom. I know she’ll be up there watching me as I go among this journey and I will do nothing but make her proud.”