The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Men’s Track and Field: Schafer looks to the future

Joe Wirth | Wednesday, February 2, 2011

After an extraordinary high school career, Irish freshman Walter Schafer should bolster Notre Dame’s depth during his rookie season.

While growing up in Centennial, Colo., Schafer discovered his love of running through his natural talent and his family’s success in the sport. As the youngest of four children, his family had a big influence on his athletic career.

“I first got into running as a kid for two reasons,” Schafer said. “The first reason was because all of my older brothers were runners and had some success at it. The other was because my elementary school and middle school always had mile runs and I discovered that I really enjoyed running.”

Schafer was a multi-sport athlete in high school, winning 10 varsity letters in cross country, track and wrestling at Cherry Creek High School. His high school athletic accolades, however, do not end there.

Schafer was conference champion in both his junior and senior year in cross country and track and was also regional and state champion in cross country his senior year. His success as a senior led to All-American accolades.

Because of his high school success, Schafer had many offers to run in college, but he chose Notre Dame because of his brother’s success here and the camaraderie he felt with the other members of the team.

“He told me a ton of stories about the team and how good his experience was here and it really pushed me towards the school,” Schafer said of his brother, who graduated in 2004.

“I also really enjoyed the kids that were on the team when I came to visit my senior year and decided that it was the best place for me to continue my running and my education.”

Schafer said the biggest difference between high school and college track is the overall increase in intensity and mileage.

“The biggest difference between high school running and college running is the intensity and the competition. Here at [Notre Dame], we run way more miles than I did in high school at a faster pace, and the workouts are much more difficult too,” Schafer said.

First-year student athletes often find it difficult to balance academic life and athletic life. Schafer explained that the decrease in free time has actually helped him concentrate, focus and get the most out of what he does.

“Being an athlete here, you don’t have all that much free time, but I think that not having a bunch a free time has actually helped me. It has made me better with my time management and makes me more efficient when doing my work,” Schafer said. “I know that when I get back to my dorm after practice that I really need to just sit down and get my work done so that I can get a good amount of sleep.”

Schafer said he maintains high expectations for his own personal success, and that of the team, for the rest of the season.

“My goals for the rest of the indoor and outdoor seasons would include hitting the Big East standard in the 5K. If I can hit that, then hopefully I could help the team out at the Big East meet and score in the 5K,” Schafer said. “Last year the team was Big East Indoor and Outdoor Champions, so we would like to repeat both of those performances.”