In the Locker Room with Jon Schafer, Soccer Captain and Musician


Courtesy of Oberlin Athletics

Jon Schafer dribbles a ball at a men’s soccer game against Grove City College.

After missing multiple seasons due to injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, fourth-year midfielder Jon Schafer is finally playing his first full season of soccer, leading as one of the team captains alongside fourth-year Zack Butter and second-year Anthony Pacewicz. Off the field, Schafer is a Politics major and sings in Pitch Please, an a cappella group; last semester, he soloed Taylor Swift’s “Death By A Thousand Cuts” in a concert. He also enjoys golfing 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 dad was a soccer 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 wound up playing in college, too.

Why did you choose to go Division III, and why Oberlin?

I chose to go Division III because I figured it was a way to play the sport that 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 also dedicated to academics and music. I thought Oberlin in particular would be a nice, well-rounded place for me to be.

Do you participate in music at Oberlin?

I do, actually. I’m in an a cappella group here at Oberlin — Pitch Please. That’s been a lot of fun. I did a lot more singing in high school, though. It was a very small school, so it was easier to find those opportunities. But at Oberlin, there are still plenty of opportunities. I just don’t always take them.

What does being team captain mean to you? What responsibilities do you feel like you have as a captain, especially to first-years here?

First and foremost, for the first-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 gonna be. Obviously, when we are at training and in games, I try to be as serious as possible. Personally, I’m someone who enjoys every aspect of soccer, mostly social. So for me, taking things seriously sometimes still involves joking around. One thing that I’ve been hoping to instill in the first-years is that soccer, even when it is business, is also so much fun. There’s a reason we play it still, and there’s a reason we love it.

How has the soccer team impacted your time here?

From day one, my best friends have been on the soccer team. Unfortunately many of my closest friends were always the grade above, so they’re not here this year, but they’ll be visiting this weekend for the men’s soccer alumni game. It’s been sad sometimes without them, but also refreshing. I’m getting closer with other people and living with other guys in my grade on the team. They are great, and I’m very thankful to be able to call them friends. In my four years here, there’s hardly any instances of real beef or qualms, and we always had a pretty good social environment.

What advice do you have for first-years?

Try to do a cost-benefit analysis and figure out a way that you can enjoy your time while not shooting yourself in the foot academically, socially, and mentally. Who knows — there might be a global pandemic that comes in and cuts it short and makes it look a lot different from what you would expect.