Players and coaches pay tribute

John Schael, former director of athletics, getting the game net after the Bears win the national championship in Salem, VA.
Men's basketball has won two NCAA Division III Championships. (Photo: Joe Angeles)

“When you hear Wash. U., everyone knows what an incredible ­academic institution it is, but you’d be surprised how many people say, ‘Wow, there’s great Division III sports down at Wash. U.’ That that’s part of the conversation is a testament to all John Schael has accomplished.” — Sean Wallis, BSBA ’09, MSF ’10, former men’s basketball player on the 2008 and 2009 national championship teams, now a ­partnership development manager at W Partners Sports and Entertainment in Chicago

“You should strive for excellence in everything. Be proud of who you are, proud of what you represent. And take ownership both positively when you do things well and negatively when you make mistakes.” — Christyn Abaray, AB ’01, former women’s soccer player, on what Schael taught her. She shadowed Schael to learn how to be an ­athletics ­director and is currently athletics director at Buena Vista University.

“The most important legacy for him is that the student-athletes have a great experience. It’s not the wins and losses, but the experience itself.” — Nancy Fahey, women’s basketball coach

“The thing that John has given me has been the ability to stay positive, to continue to believe even when the horizon doesn’t look so rosy or well lit. John just believes that in doing the right things, good things are ­going to follow.”

Larry Kindbom, football coach

“At the St. Louis Hall of Fame, we are proud of the selection of John Schael into the ‘exclusive Club’ of inductees. My own sports career at Wash. U. from 1968–1971 is testimony to the incredible progress athletics has made on the Hilltop. It may be the biggest turnaround of a university program in America!” — Greg Marecek, AB ’71, founder/president, St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame

“At the end of my junior year, the soccer team was playing in the Sweet 16 when I had a season ending injury and was devastated. I remember running into Mr. Schael after our last practice before our Elite 8 game. I was so impressed with how considerate and genuinely concerned he was about my injury and recovery. It felt great knowing that someone who was so busy running Wash. U. athletics took the time to comfort me during a difficult time.” — Anna Zambricki, AB ’14

“The legacy you leave behind is truly remarkable. Most impressive of all, was your willingness to get to know each athlete by name.” — Nick Burt, Business Class of ’15

“Mr. Schael, thank you for always popping into the pool deck on a Tuesday morning to say hi to us before we started our school day… I will never forget when Mr. Schael came to the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships in Indianapolis and sat alone in the furthest bleacher from the pool luxuriating. He looked like he was having a beach party in the stands, like a true member of the swim team. It was so great to have him at the meet and hear him cheer us on.” — Toireasa Rafferty-Millett, Arts & Sciences Class of ’16

“Thank you for putting in the hard work that has allowed my team to succeed year in and year out. We have a coach that truly cares, a facility that provides an ideal environment for improving our skills, and support from Wash. U. faculty and staff that has been crucial to our success. Playing tennis at Wash. U. has been the most transformative experience of my college career, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this exceptional athletic community.” — Jeffrey Hirsh, AB ’14

“Mr. Schael, thank you so much for all that you have done for Wash. U. athletics! You always have so much wisdom to share with all the student-athletes, whether it’s just a few words of encouragement in the halls of the AC or an inspirational speech at the awards banquet. I will never forget the fun you brought to every Big SAAC night by leading us through ‘Captain of the Boat.’” — Kylie Ziolkowski, AB ’14

“Without fail, every Monday morning during my opening shift in the equipment room, Mr. Schael comes in and always has something wonderful to say. He simultaneously wakes me up (I am usually half asleep during that shift — who wouldn’t be at 6:45 a.m.) and brightens my day. Yesterday, all he said was, ‘Keep smiling,’ and that was enough to kick-start my day.” — Maisie Mahoney, Engineering Class of ’16, equipment room monitor

“Mr. Schael, thank you so much for everything you have done for the Wash. U. athletics program. Being a Bear has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I know so much of that is due to your relentless hard work and dedication to this program and its student-athletes. I will never forget walking into the San Antonio airport at 6 a.m. the morning after the women’s soccer national championship game in 2009 and seeing you already sitting at our gate, attempting to get some sleep. All I can remember thinking about in that moment was how much you must have cared about and supported us to be there. Thank you.” — Nicole Martin, AB ’13

“They listened… In my fifth year of playing football at Wash. U., several of the leaders of the football team met personally with then-Chancellor William Danforth. We expressed our dream that not only the football program, but that all Wash. U. athletic programs would some day be as exceptional as everything else about Washington University. Because of John Schael’s years of hard work and dedication to Wash. U. athletics, our dreams have come true. It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with John and with Coach Kindbom this past fall as the Wash. U. Battling Bear football team took the field against Franklin College in the 2013 NCAA D-III Championship Playoffs. — Mike Holzknecht, BSCE ’80 (Darryl Sharp Co-MVP 1978 and 1979; Football Co-Captain 1977, 1978 and 1979)