Pfannenstiel making the grade

Mishaun Pfannenstiel and Gregg Schroeder

Sleepless night, my mind is racing. Alarm clock rings at 4:30 a.m. One hour to shower, change into scrubs and report to Newton Medical Center. Today is going to be a big one. First priority is the surgery unit at NMC for a clinical rotation. A quick lunch break at 11 a.m., then back to campus by 2 p.m. On my feet all day, tired. Change into basketball uniform, van leaves in 30 minutes for a two-hour drive to Haviland, Kan. Study on the way. Arrive in time for warmup and 6 p.m. tipoff. Hard-fought game – physical. Teammate ends up in the hospital. Score 27 points and grab 13 boards. 120 miles back to campus. Back by 10 p.m. Study for an hour then fall into bed. Set the alarm, tomorrow will come quick.

Sound busy? It is. Difficult? Yes. Is it manageable? For the right person, yes. Rewarding? Without a doubt.

Such is life for 19 year-old freshman shooting guard Mishaun Pfannenstiel, Inman, Kan., who studies nursing at Hesston College while starring for the school’s basketball team. And by the way, she led the team in scoring and finished twelfth in the country in National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II, averaging 19.6 points per game.

“In high school my entire focus was on basketball,” Pfannenstiel said. “I remember having more free time then. Starting at Hesston, I quickly realized that balancing basketball and academics would be a big time commitment, and I had to manage my time well to be successful.”

Since being accepted into Hesston’s nursing program (she’ll be ready for the national RN licensure exam —NCLEX-RN—upon graduating after her sophomore year), Pfannenstiel has found herself immersed in clinical training that has her on the fast track to fulfilling her career aspirations. She has a good path to follow, considering 100 percent of last year’s Hesston nursing graduates passed the licensure exam on their first attempt. Pursuing Hesston’s two-year program has meant managing a busier schedule than most student athletes, but Pfannenstiel is making it work.

“I probably have a slightly different social schedule than other girls in my dorm,” Pfannenstiel said. “I’d bet my usual 10 p.m. bedtime gets me to sleep before my dad on occasion, and certainly before most of my friends here.”

“Mishaun has the wonderful ability to take the concepts she is learning in the classroom and apply them to her patient care encounters,” said Hesston nursing instructor Gregg Schroeder. “She makes connections between theory and practice that are outstanding for a first-year nursing student. It’s apparent to me that Mishaun is thriving as she balances her athletic commitments with her academic requirements.”

Mishaun Pfannenstiel drives to the bucket verses Friends University JV
Hesston College women's basketball player Mishaun Pfannenstiel drives to the bucket verses Friends University JV.

On the court, Pfannenstiel meant everything to the Hesston offense this season. In 30 games played she led the team in scoring 27 times and reached double-figures in all but two games. According to Hesston coach Dan Harrison, it’s Pfannenstiel’s all-around basketball acumen that allowed her to maintain a high level of play each night.

“She can score in so many ways,” Harrison said. “Whether it’s from beyond the arc, with a mid-range jumper or penetrating and getting to the free-throw line, Mishaun is a scorer. She’s a competitor and a hard-nosed defender.”

“Mishaun is a very likeable teammate,” said fellow freshman Kara Stutzman, Hesston, Kan. “She’s quick-witted and fun to be around. Get her on a basketball court and she’ll show you drive and tenacity. Mishaun goes hard and has made a big impact on our team.”

Pfannenstiel’s success on the basketball court shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise to south-central Kansans who follow high school hoops. She was, after all, named the Hutchinson News 2A Player of the Year, as well as an all-state selection after a stellar senior season at Inman High School. It seems her recipe for success then has translated well to the college game.

“Mishaun was such a competitor, and she could score in so many different ways,” said Inman High coach Jeff Friesen. “She was a great offensive rebounder, shot a high percentage from the free throw line, ran the floor well and could create her own shot. She was not afraid to take the big shot or step up and make a play. It is really nice to see the success she is having at Hesston on and off the court.”

Studying and playing at Hesston College, ranked second in the U.S. on the list of two-year colleges in terms of student success by an August 2010 study in Washington Monthly, has given Pfannenstiel the structure and support to reach her goals of working in a hospital setting, or possibly at a clinic in the future.

“This year has been a tremendous challenge for me, but I like challenges. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.” Pfannenstiel added. “Hesston’s campus has been like a big family to me. It’s been a good fresh start.”