UTEP alumna Rachel Schaeffer returned to the Helen of Troy Softball Complex 11 years after her playing days had ended.
Schaeffer was one of the pioneers of UTEP softball, taking the field a year into the program’s existence. She walked away from UTEP with her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate. She is now a physical therapist in the El Paso area.
Schaeffer was not highly touted entering her collegiate career in the Orange and Blue. She only played in 18 games her freshman season, but she quickly earned the respect of her teammates and coaches with her toughness and work ethic. The catcher ended up starting 135 games after her freshman campaign, and blasted six homers in her junior season.
“I wasn’t necessarily the best one,” Schaeffer said. “But I feel like how hard I worked and played through injury. I had two herniated disks and still continued to play through that. People respected me for that, and felt like they could work through their injuries as well.”
Freshman Ashley Williams is battling her own adversity after suffering a season-ending injury during the fall. Schaeffer’s speech really struck a chord with her, and gave her a blueprint on how to persevere.
“She was very inspirational,” Williams said. “She was injured and had health issues, and this year I am not playing because I am injured. She said it is a year to learn, and a goal of mine is to sit back and learn.”
Schaeffer also touched on the Miners’ current situation, and gave her insight on how important building trust is with head coach T.J. Hubbard taking over so close to the season.
“The number value is trust,” Schaeffer explained. “Because if you don’t trust your teammates, then you wont get very far. You also have to trust your coaches. I know having a new coach in the spring is a little bit of a challenge, but if you can trust the vision that he has along with the assistant coaches then you will be able to move forward.”
Sophomore Pate Cathey took her words to heart, and appreciated Schaeffer’s insight and advice.
“The biggest thing I took away was her value of trust and accountability,” Cathey said. “We have tried to create a good culture of trust because we are out here 24/7. Our teammates are our family, so being able to build that trust, especially in the sport of softball, is really important on and off the field.”
UTEP will begin its season on Feb. 7 in Las Cruces, N.M., at 9:30 a.m., against Arkansas. This will be coach Hubbard’s debut in the Orange and Blue, and will mark the official start of the Hubbard era.
For complete coverage of UTEP Softball, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @utepsoftball (Instagram) and @UTEPSoftball (Twitter) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.