After missing several seasons due to injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, fourth-year midfielder Jon Schafer is finally playing his first full season of football, leading as one of the team captains alongside Zack Fourth-year Butter and second-year Anthony Pacewicz. Off the court, Schafer is a major in politics and sings in Pitch Please, an a cappella group; last semester, he performed Taylor Swift’s “Death By A Thousand Cuts” solo at a concert. He also enjoys playing golf with his friends and teammates.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
When did you start playing soccer?
I started playing as early as I can remember. My father was a football coach for a long time in his life. It’s an important game for my whole family. I have two older sisters who both played in high school and then one of them ended up playing in college too.
Why did you choose to go to Division III, and why Oberlin?
I chose to go to Division III because I thought it was a way to play the sport I love at a good level, but not in a super competitive way. I would be in an environment where a lot of people are equally dedicated to studies and music. I thought Oberlin in particular would be a nice, well-rounded place for me.
Do you participate in music at Oberlin?
I do, in fact. I’m in an a cappella group here in Oberlin — Pitch Please. It was great fun. I did a lot more singing in high school, though. It was a very small school, so it was easier to find these opportunities. But in Oberlin, there are still plenty of opportunities. I don’t always take them.
What does being team captain mean to you? What responsibilities do you feel you have as captain, especially to the first years here?
First and foremost, for the first few years, I feel like I have an obligation to be a role model. In college, you kind of have the freedom to determine what kind of role model you’re going to be. Obviously, when we are in training and in matches, I try to be as serious as possible. Personally, I am someone who loves all aspects of football, especially social. So for me, taking things seriously still sometimes involves joking. One thing I hoped to instill in the early years is that football, even when it comes to business, is also a lot of fun. There’s a reason we still play it, and there’s a reason we love it.
How did the football team influence your stay here?
Since day one, my best friends have been on the soccer team. Sadly a lot of my closest friends have always been over the top so they are not here this year but will be coming this weekend for the men’s football alumni game. It was sometimes sad without them, but also refreshing. I bond with others and live with other guys in my class on the team. They are great and I am very grateful to be able to call them friends. During my four years here, there were hardly any real problems or qualms, and we always had a pretty good social environment.
What advice do you have for the early years?
Try to do a cost-benefit analysis and find a way to enjoy your time without shooting yourself in the foot academically, socially, and mentally. Who knows – there could be a global pandemic coming along and shortening it and making it very different from what you would expect.