October 13th, 2016

Hyland's Heroes: Chris Schaefer

Samantha Stallings

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Chris Schaefer
The Schaefer family / photo provided by the Schaefer family

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland Insurance. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports.

Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.


Chris Schaefer grew up in the St. Pius parish, graduated from St. Xavier High, and graduated with a degree in business from the University of Louisville. Chris married his wife Michelle O’Bryan in 1994. Chris and Michelle have two children: Patrick, who is a junior at St. X and graduated from St. Agnes, and Samantha, who is currently a seventh grader at St. Agnes.

When and how did you get your start St. Agnes grade school?


Shortly after Michelle and I married we began searching for a Catholic community where we could continue living our faith and to find a long term school community for when we had children. St. Agnes offered a welcoming, Catholic community in which we could grow and we have been parishioner for the past 20 years. Michelle’s sister and her family were already at St. Agnes.   Both of us have wonderful childhood memories of booster clubs, sports and faith filled community. We wanted to be able to instill the Catholic values and share this with our children. Being able to help our children form strong faith, lasting friends and memories is very important to us.


What sport did you do or did you volunteer to help or coach and how long?


I started with soccer for both kids and then went to flag football for two years, moving to a tackle football team with a great group of dads to coach with for third and fourth grade boys. This lasted for six years. Our kids also run and swim, so when the higher grades needed a boy’s track coach/ director I took the plunge once again and stepped up to coordinate until Patrick graduated eighth grade. Along with this, I took on swimming. I paired up with another swim parent, Pam McDermott. I started as an assistant coach for the CSAA catholic school swim meet held once a year in March.


After six years of assisting, I took on head coaching with my wife. For the last four years we have led a group of 40 plus kids in the catholic school swim meet. It is always hectic, but it is fun to see kids come out and take on swimming for their school. Softball is another one of my teams; I have helped and led CSAA softball teams while my daughter has played for the last two years. 


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


When thinking about how to give back and set good example of helping others, I automatically think of coaching and helping the kids. This is how I can best show my stewardship and be involved in my faith community. 


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


My influence started as a kid with my dad and uncle in sports booster clubs and then many at St. Agnes have shown me the ropes. It has not been just one person, but the community that has influenced how to be involved and make a difference.  


What are your major themes/principle as a volunteer?


My goal with any coaching aspect has always been to coach the basic skills of the game and teach respect for authority, help them learn how to play together as a team and of course, enjoy the moment. Sports can teach so many lessons in life like learning how to lead, being collaborative, and accepting and dealing with failure. I also like for them to experience the thrill of winning and staying humble as part of sportsmanship. These are all life lessons that will serve all kids as they grow to adulthood. Some motivation sayings I use the most with the kids are "practice doesn't makes perfect, perfect practice makes perfect and don't get discouraged, get determined.”


Through coaching, I feel I have accomplished the team's goals when I have successfully taught the game and basic skills to the kids. The whole idea of coaching is to help them improve their abilities, which gives stronger confidence to move to the next step. I always try to make it fun for the kids, but at the same time I instill a healthy competitive spirit for a complete feeling of accomplishment.  My major theme as a volunteer coach is to practice perfect, believe in yourself and have fun doing it.


What does your role at St. Agnes bring your family?


The most fulfilling aspect coaching has brought to my family is being front and center for my kids activities. Coaching has allowed my wife and I to spend quality time with Patrick and Samantha. Times when we congratulate them on a job well done or provided advice when things didn't go as planned. There is also the many hours riding, sitting, waiting and most importantly talking together to and from activities. These times have been priceless and invaluable to us.  Another fulfilling aspect is that as the kids have gotten older, they help with coaching too. My daughter demonstrates the correct swim stroke to younger kids and my son helps the older kids on relays for swim meets. It has become a family affair.  What a great way to set good examples for them. This is what we will cherish when looking back on these years.


What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of your volunteering time?


Some of my favorite moments are when the hard work pays off.  Such as, when I see a young swimmer gains the confidence to complete the full lap they once struggled to do or when a softball player catches a fly ball in center field to end the inning, when two months earlier she couldn’t catch the ball. Seeing them gain confidence makes me happy and fulfilled. 


Recent Articles