In basketball and in life, Erin Scholz’s gifts have been revealed to her through others in life-altering moments.
One such moment occurred the first time she set foot in Sabin Middle School. She was 5-foot-11 when she moved to Colorado Springs from Illinois prior to seventh grade and she caught the eye of basketball coach Phil Johnson.
“I had played some basketball, but I didn’t define myself as a basketball player,” recalled Scholz, who was the top vote-getter from a 14-member committee that selected The Gazette’s All-Time Area Girls’ Basketball Team. “Without the encouragement of a coach and my mom, I don’t think I would have tried out for a basketball team. (Johnson) saw me come on campus to register for school and we got a phone call that night inviting me to an open gym.”
The rest can be found in Colorado basketball history. Scholz grew to 6-foot-2 and led Doherty to a 39-game winning streak and the city’s first big-school championship as a junior in 1992. She was a second-team Parade All-American selection and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Colorado as a senior.
She then chose Colorado over Arizona, Florida and Vanderbilt, and left a lasting imprint. She left as CU’s all-time leader in games and starts, No. 2 in rebounding and No. 3 in scoring and was a first-team All-Big 8 selection. The Buffs were 106-26 in her time.
Scholz later played professionally for the Colorado Chill in the National Women’s Basketball League, winning league titles in 2005 and ’06, as well as pro stint in Australia prior to launching a nine-year college coaching career.
Asked for a moment that stood out from her career, Scholz pointed to a particular play from her time at Doherty. She can’t recall the opponent, but Scholz remembers the clock winding down and the Spartans working the ball to her in the interior. As the defense collapsed, she hit a teammate for the game-winning shot.
It was an eye-opening revelation about the power of teamwork.
“The memory I cherish the most is the sense of family and love,” she said. “That particular memory is really representative of how we worked together as a team.”
But Scholz said she always struggled to identify her worth, even while starring in basketball. When her time in the game concluded, she was forced to confront those issues. Looking back now, she believes she had slipped into depression during her final year at Colorado that left her “lost for a solid four years.”
It was then that she visited her mother, Jill Kerby, in Florida and experienced “a significant encounter with God that really set my life on its course.”
The encounter came at the end of a women’s church conference. The speaker led a prayer at the conclusion. She came to pray out loud over Scholz, offering words Scholz felt came directly from God.
“It clued me into the fact that it wasn’t all my fault that I was in such a dark place,” Scholz said.
Now, Scholz has given up coaching basketball and is the worship leader and pilots the women’s ministry at Mountain View Church in Fresno, Calif., which has a congregation of about 1,000. She had first been involved with the church while living in Fresno as the coach of Fresno Pacific University, and when the position opened she left her assistant position at Grand Canyon University to pursue it.
In this role, where she put to practice her passion “to coach people in growing in their spiritual identity and strength in the Christian faith,” she has found outgoing leadership qualities she didn’t know she possessed.
“I think that that gift has been there all along, but now I actually have something to say,” Scholz said.
The best female basketball player to come from Colorado Springs never envisioned the path her life has taken, but she sees all of it – from an open gym invitation to a career that eventually brought her to a church home in Fresno – as connected and the result of a divine plan.
“I do,” she said. “All of the highs and lows have worked together to create now."