November 7th, 2013

Hyland's Heroes: Jeff Schaefer

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Jeff Schaefer
The Jeff Schaefer family / photo courtesy Jeff Schaefer

St. Michael parish and school is a rapidly growing entity, and they are seeing many more families and students as they grow. This growth has been building their sports programs and offerings slowly but surely. Jeff Schaefer has many years of experience that he brings to their football program, but he and his family have contributed many hours in support of the parish as well.

Growing up, Jeff began his own CSAA experience playing sports at St. Pius, and then St. Xavier HS. Completing his academic work in Civil Engineering, he ultimately earned his Ph.D. from UK. Jeff is married to someone with as much interest in athletics as himself. His wife, Jody, is a teacher and coach at Assumption HS, and her extended family (Nord) is a name recognized by many of us who have been around CSAA, high school and college athletics. Jeff really had no other option but “to love the game.” Now the parents of four very active children, their family is not just a one sport family; they are active all year round and in multiple activities at the high school and elementary levels.

Though Jeff’s St. Michael’s squad lost to St. Mary’s in the Toy Bowl title game, he and the St. Michael’s team have had a great experience together.

When and how did you get your start with the CSAA? Why so?

I first started coaching football for a few years at St. Stephen Martyr when I was in college. Jody’s dad (Ken Nord) was the head coach and asked me to help. After that, my school and work schedule became too hectic to keep coaching and I did not coach for some time.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved? 

When my oldest son Clay was in third grade (2003) his flag football coach asked me to help him coach the team. After a few practices I realized how much I missed football and how happy I was to be able to coach the kids and be able to teach them about football and some of the life lessons I learned as kid.

What sports did you coach and for how long?

I have coached football for a total of 12 years now and helped coach basketball one year for Clay’s 8th grade year. I am currently the head coach of the St. Michael 8th grade football team where my son Connor is an offensive lineman and middle linebacker.

What's the connection with your faith and giving your time to young student athletes? 

Jody and I have been very active in the St. Michael parish for a long time. We ran the fish fry, the picnic dinner and both have coached for years. We love being a part of the St. Michael community, especially coaching. We had a bye week recently and I planned a service day for our team to clean up our campus and to perform some jobs to help out our Pastor. Instead of complaining, all the boys were excited to help and had a great time.  

Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?

I have been very fortunate to have a lot of very good coaches since I started playing sports in grade school. I have learned something from each one of them and I think I have developed as a coach and a person from their influence. Some of my most influential coaches were: at St. Pius, Bill Waddel, Mike Page, and Butch Cripe. At St. X,  coaches Joe Hall, Arnold Drury, Nelson Nunn, and Mike Glaser. After High school, my wife Jody, Ken Nord, Greg Nord, and Gary Nord have all been influential and have helped me be a better coach.  

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

As a coach I focus on preparation. I want to make sure that coaches are prepared in that they are educated on the techniques required for all the positions on the team.  I want our players prepared. I want to make sure they are in football condition and they know the required football techniques for their positions, and they know what to expect from each opponent. I plan our practices to teach the techniques in a progressive manner. We dedicate periods in every practice to work on football specific conditioning.  I spend a lot of hours scouting our opponents and watching film. We develop our game plan and make sure our players are prepared. One of the keys to our success is that we also spend quite a bit of time evaluating ourselves. Every week I evaluate our game film and determine what things we need to work on that week to get better. This has led to the progressive improvement of our team each week.  

What does coaching bring to you, your family?

Coaching is ingrained in our family. With Jody and I coaching sports at the same time our life at home is often a circus. Many people ask how we do it but I really don’t have an answer. We just make it happen. All of our kids usually get fed, get their homework done, and get to where they need to be. 

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching? 

I have a lot of good memories of winning big games or the first team I coached that made the Toy Bowl, but the best memories have been some special small moments. It is very rewarding for former players to come up and thank you for coaching them or just tell you how they are doing. Recently after our team won a big game, a 5th grader ran up to me and gave me big hug and told me “great job coaching” then ran away. That is a great memory for me.


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