MANKATO — Folks may remember Holly Schlingmann from her diving days.
She did, after all, win a high school state title, even receiving an Ambassador Award from then-Mankato Mayor Jeff Kagermeier.
But Schlingmann is done with diving now. She’s moved on to singing and acting -- and it hasn’t taken long for someone to take notice.
Though she’s less than two years removed from vocal chord surgery, Schlingmann has earned a role in an independently produced film about Patsy Cline that is slated for a midsummer release.
“I’ve never really thought of myself as an actor or singer,” she said. “I was always the sports girl.”
The shift began even while Schlingmann was still a student at Mankato East High School. While she was dominating diving competitions, earning attention from college programs and being voted “most likely to be an Olympian” by her classmates, Schlingmann’s enthusiasm for the sport was waning.
By the time she was diving at Minnesota State University, her enjoyment had completely fizzled.
After taking a hiatus from college and living for a while in Florida, Schlingmann returned to Mankato in 2008. Not long after she got back, some friends invited her out to sing karaoke.
Schlingmann reluctantly joined them at Dutler’s Bowl, where she remembers being terrified to sing Joan Jett’s anthemic “I Love Rock N’ Roll” in front of a crowd.
“It scared the hell out of me,” said Schlingmann, who’s now returned to MSU and is a few months from graduating with a communication studies degree. “It seemed strange that I could stand in front of thousands of people in my bathing suit but couldn’t sing karaoke.”
Gradually, Schlingmann became more comfortable with performing. And the nodules that doctors told her had developed on her vocal cords as a teenager helped give her a distinct, raspy sound that attracted the attention of other musicians. She was soon invited to sing alongside local crooner Sonny Bryant and prolific pianist Paul Durenberger.