PORTSMOUTH — To pursue a career in athletics, one must accept the ability to not only be flexible from a talent standpoint, but from a work schedule standpoint as well.
In the ever-changing field of sports information, Skylar Shaffer’s commitment to Shawnee State Athletics has been second-to-none.
The senior Sport Studies major, who is on track to graduate this month with a bachelor’s degree in the field, was named as the athletic department’s Joe Smith Award winner on Thursday evening for his work for each of the athletic programs at Shawnee State.
The award is given to a student who has demonstrated exemplary support for the department.
“Winning the Joe Smith Award means everything to me,” Shaffer said. “Being involved in athletics at Shawnee State has given me experience that I couldn’t gain anywhere else. For that, I could not be more thankful.”
Shaffer, who handled statkeeping at many athletic events — including volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball during the course of the 2019-20 season — was a critical piece to the setting up and breaking down of various events.
His presence was also crucial in the execution of the Bear Run this past fall.
In addition to his skills as a statkeeper, Shaffer — in past seasons — updated record books and wrote stories on the athletic website among various tasks for the athletic department.
He’s done all of this while maintaining a 3.1 GPA in the classroom and balancing time working for Northwest as an assistant coach on the soccer pitch this past fall — the Mohawks’ first playing on the newly-renovated Roy Rogers Field.
Shaffer, who graduated from nearby Northwest High School in 2016, played soccer and ran track for the Mohawks during his high school days.
On the pitch, Shaffer helped Northwest finish with a 27-19-7 record in his final three seasons of play, and during his senior year, led the Mohawks to a 13-5 record — starting the first of four consecutive winning seasons for Josh Keeney’s soccer program.
He played outside midfielder for a team that posted 45 goals and allowed only 13 during his senior season of competition.
In track, Shaffer set a personal-best of five feet, four inches in the high jump and 18-feet, one-and-a-half inches in the long jump according to records on Athletic.net.
Shaffer, who won the high jump at the Minford Invitational during his senior season with the former mark, is tied for the third-best high jump and holds the fourth highest long jump of anybody in the Northwest track program since records were recorded to the website in 2009.
He also ran in the 300-meter hurdles and the 800-meter run while with the Mohawks, all while contributing to the 4-by-100, 4-by-200, 4-by-400, and 4-by-800 meter relay units with the program.
For his development as a student-athlete back in high school, Shaffer credits Keeney — along with Northwest athletic director, girls basketball coach and track coach Dave Frantz — for their steadfast approach toward athletics as a whole.
“Coach (Dave) Frantz and (Josh) Keeney were and are like father figures to me,” Shaffer said. “If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be involved in sports today. Frantz is the main reason why I want to be an AD on down the road. He took me under his wing and taught me a great deal when it comes to athletics from a behind-the-scenes perspective. Going back over the last year and helping Keeney coach soccer, it really showed me how much he truly put into everything that the normal eye does not see. They always pushed me to be my best, even when I did not have confidence in myself. These two would give off their shirts off of their backs for anyone, and I am just lucky to be a part of the Mohawk family.”
For future sport studies majors or individuals who are aspiring for a career in the field, Shaffer says that working inside the field from the outset of one’s academic career — along with making connections — are the keys toward personal growth and advancement.
“The best advice I can give is to get involved and take full advantage of the opportunities that come with it,” Shaffer said. “Staying home to go to school isn’t a bad thing. Once you realize that, everything will fall into place.”
Along with Shaffer, the SSU Athletic Department was assisted greatly this past season by several students on gamedays and around the office — such as Shae Patty, Kyle McClellan, Sienna King, Jesse Hall, Jacob Bowe and Zack Kelly among many others.
Student-athletes such as Ben Sellers, Seth Pluta, Matt Ball, Mo Wolansky, Jessica Willard and Joao Toledo, among many others, were also regular workers during game events and were crucial to gameday operations in several facets.