Northern Michigan lost one of its all-time best this week.
Kim (Schneider) Monthei, a former All-State basketball player at Elk Rapids, passed away Monday from breast cancer at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. She had just turned 42 on Saturday.
Kim had been diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago.
A four-year starter, Kim was the catalyst on some potent Elk Rapids teams, coached by her father, Bob. The Elks were 82-10 during that span, reaching the Class C quarterfinals twice. Kim finished with 1,986 career points, which at the time was second to Leland’s Julie Polakowski.
“She had some great teammates, too,” Bob Schneider said. “One year all five averaged double figures.”
Kim, a fifth-grade teacher at Inland Lakes, spent the last three weeks of her life in the hospital — with two of her high school teammates often at her bedside.
“Those kids were so tight,” Bob said. “We’d get out of basketball practice and eight out of the 10 would be at our house before I got home. They did everything together.”
Kim went on to Aquinas College, where she played basketball for two years before a knee injury ended her playing days. After earning her degree, Kim returned to Elk Rapids, where she helped Bob run his summer program. She planned to substitute teach, starting that fall.
Then fate intervened. Her older sister, Terri, was getting married in September and Kim was her matron of honor. Turns out, the groom’s best man became smitten with Kim.
“He (Scott Monthei) fell in love with her right away,” Bob said.
They eventually married and had three daughters together. Bob still remembers the night when Scott asked for his permission to marry Kim.
“I saw him walk in the gym one night, that’s when I was coaching eighth-graders,” Bob recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t know if this is the right time or not, but would you be OK if I asked your daughter to marry me?’ He was shaking.”