Nadine Schmidt was known for her uncanny ability to shine when the lights on the stage were at its brightest. Today, she’s still on the stage, only this time as a professional bodybuilder. Although she may be over 40, Schmidt still yearns for competition and nothing is stopping her from taking pro bodybuilding to the next level.
Bison Illustrated – You came to NDSU right before the women’s basketball team took off. What was the attitude of that team to make it so successful?
Nadine Schmidt – We had a lot of fighters on our team and we didn’t have any preconceived notions that we couldn’t do it. We just felt like this was something we wanted to do. We wanted to win the national championship game and just went after it. There was a lot of fight in us, and the team that we had fit very well together. We probably didn’t have the most talented team, but we had probably one of the most hardworking teams.
Where does that stem from? Where do you guys find that fight and that drive and desire?
Most of us had successful high school careers, and Coach (Amy) Ruley is probably one of the winningest coaches in North Dakota State’s history and for women’s basketball in the nation. So she doesn’t stand for mediocrity, and I think her drive and her work ethic was just a perfect fit for our team. You know we all wanted to live up to her expectations; success breeds success.
You went 113-13 in your career at NDSU. With so much success to look back on, what sticks out to you during your time at NDSU?
It’s a whole lot of pride. Bison Pride runs deep. Pride in the University, pride in North Dakota period. I’m a homegrown girl there, too (Braddock). Just the work ethic I think most athletes bring when you become a North Dakota State University Bison, that’s a lot of, I think, blue collar-type work that you have to put in.
Where did you go after leaving North Dakota State?
I initially got a coaching job in Texas, and taught physical education and middle school softball and track, and I did also a little bit of college coaching. Then I moved back to Minnesota in 1999. I’m program management specialist. I jumped around with jobs in this company but I’ve been with this company since 1999. I work for a company called CompuCom Systems Inc., it’s an IT company. I also am a professional national bodybuilder, so I compete in national bodybuilding competitions. I just had two that I won both in May. I will be competing again in October and November, hopefully if my body holds up.
What made you want to be a bodybuilder?
Well, after basketball and not having any real competition in my life, I was like, lost. You know the, “Oh I’m missing something.” And softball wasn’t doing it for me. Bodybuilding for me and muscular physique has always interested me so when I turned 40 I was like, “I’m tired of not doing what I wanna do,” so I was a novice and I did pretty well. I competed in those events in 2012 so I kept doing it. That year I actually got my professional status, and I’ve been competing since then as a pro and trying to improve. I’m probably gonna compete in the world championship, in November.
How did you get your fix in between your basketball playing career and bodybuilding career?
I still played some amateur basketball for a while, also softball, but my body started to give out on the basketball court so that wasn’t doing it for me, so I started to spend a lot of time in the weight room.
So how much time?
Oh, I’m in the gym probably at least three hours a day.
Wow. Over twenty hours a week. That’s more than some people work you know that?
Yeah, yeah. I call it my passion, my hobby, my stress release. It covers a lot of areas for me.
And you can work full time too, with it?
Yep. Yep sometimes I’ll have to go a couple times a day back to the gym, but I get it done.
What does it take to get your professional certification?
You have to compete in a competition that offers a professional qualification, so there are only certain competitions you can enter that will offer that “pro card,” so to speak. You have to place in the top, I think two of that competition. So I actually got my pro card in the second competition I competed in, Elk River, Minn. My first pro show then was in 2013. I’ve now competed in seven professional competitions and have won three.
Are they all pro meets or are you doing smaller competitions, too?
In 2015, I didn’t compete. I just needed to work on some weaknesses so I took the whole year just to focus on my body and to get some growth. My quads, specifically, my legs. So this year constituted of two in May, I won both of those, and I plan on doing two or three more in October and November depending on how my body and my mind hold up. It’s a mental thing, too.
Are there different categories that you compete in or is there just one specific category that you are just focused in on?
Since I am competing on the professional level, I can only compete as a professional women’s body builder. And then women’s bodybuilding – in the current federations that I’m doing – we’re all in the same categories. It’s not broken down into weight classes or height classes. Usually, there’s only 15 competitors so it’s not bad. So I could be going up against any age. You have to be 18 to get your professional status, but anywhere between that and a 100-year-old. I’ve been up against some women in their 50’s who were just frickin’ amazing.
Does that kind of inspire you a bit that you could be hanging with this for another 10 years?
Oh yeah for sure. I started late and I plan on doing it for a while.
What piece of advice would you give someone who is interested in pursuing bodybuilding?
I would just let them know that you have to enjoy the journey. It’s the most challenging thing I have ever done mentally and physically. The mental toll is just crazy because, not only is it what you’re doing in the weight room, but how you’re handling your diet, what you’re doing at home in your kitchen. You know you can work your ass off in the gym for three hours a day, but if you come home and lose it in the kitchen, you’re not gonna get the gains you need. It’s very strict. You have to have everything planned out. I usually cook my food a week in advance. You know you’re gonna have some ups and downs, you’re not going to be perfect every day, but it’s how you bounce back. The challenge is to stay focused.
Are there any similarities between preparing yourself for this and being a college athlete?
One of the things Coach Ruley instilled in us is mental toughness. You know you have to be mentally tough. With basketball just having a turnover every possession, you’re probably not mentally into the game. Your head is probably not in it. You need to be mentally tough. I completely commit myself to this. You know everything starts with how you feel about yourself, how you perceive yourself if you believe in yourself. So there’s definitely connections there. You know visualization was huge in basketball for us, and I still use that. You visualize yourself being a winner. You know going out and competing and when you’re on stage, I’m competing, and I do whatever I can to bring it.
You’re just coming off a couple competitions, but have a few coming up. What stages of prep are you in for those?
For my May competition, I started my diet, started depleting food or taking food away slowly in September. So it’s about 26 to 32- week preparation before going on stage.
So are you getting into that new prep right now for this fall?
Yeah. We’ve added a little bit of food back in because I want to maintain. I don’t want to lose muscle mass in the next five months. So I’m eating a little bit more than I was right before the last competition, but I’m not going back to that “super bulk mode” because I have to take anything off that I put back on. Yeah, so I’m adding, getting my body back a little bit of strength and stuff so I can get really good workouts in, but it’s not like overboard. I track all of my intake, my food and everything daily. Preparation is about 32 weeks before I get on stage. The less time you take the more you have to rush.
Let’s talk NDSU women’s basketball. Are you staying up-to-date?
Any takeaways from last season?
I’m waiting for us to get back on the winning track. That was one of the difficult seasons and I think Maren Walseth felt that. I think we’re kind of moving back in the right direction. She’s, I believe, finally getting her own recruits now. I don’t want to say anything bad about any of the players she had on her team, but, as a coach, she’s bringing in her recruiting, her style and her type of athlete. She’s working on her system and I’m guessing that once she gets everything in place – that takes time – that we’ll be moving in the right direction again.