Jennifer (Davis) Schwartz insists that she has little recollection of the goals she scored (88 to be exact) or the hits (181 of those) she accumulated during her time as a standout Bulldog from 2002 through 2006. The two-sport star could not necessarily recall a single moment on the playing field that would jump to the top of the mind. For Schwartz, there are other things she still thinks about on a Friday in the middle of June, 15 years after her graduation.
Faith and family resonate to this day for Schwartz, who is more often a spectator these days – at her children’s sporting events. The relationships she formed as a Bulldog are long-lasting.
“I hate losing. I love winning,” Schwartz said. “But that isn’t why I was there … I don’t think much of the success. I think all the time about how I miss the girls I played with.”
Perhaps Schwartz can’t pinpoint one singular shining moment in her soccer career because there were just too many of them. Her 88 career goals are 23 more than any other player in the history of the program has ever scored. She notched more than 20 goals in three separate seasons with a high of 24 (also a school record) in 2005. The competitor inside of her is “still angry” she fell shy of her aim for 100 career goals.
A Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and member of the Hall of Fame softball team of ’05, Schwartz is a testament to the type of impact Concordia can have on a person. After years of attending public schools exclusively, Schwartz found an entirely new experience in Seward.
“Going to Concordia after going to public schools was so much different,” Schwartz said. “Initially it did take some getting used to. It felt like we prayed 37 times each practice. I was never used to that. If someone got hurt on the field we would immediately gather and pray for that individual. Once I got used to it there was no way I would want anything different because that part was just amazing.”
Of course Schwartz also has fond memories in regards to her coaches. She was coached in soccer for three years by Bill Schranz and for one year by Rob Giesbrecht and in softball for all four years under Frank Greene. She remembers crying when Schranz decided to step down as head coach, but she learned plenty from both Schranz and Giesbrecht. She remembers the spring break trips with her softball teammates. Greene never let his teams go without plentiful meals. When traveling, Greene often bought grills to cook meals and then donated the grill to a local organization when it was time to go home.
As a freshman, Schwartz starred on a soccer team that struggled to a 6-13 record, but it was the best team she had ever been a part of in terms of togetherness and camaraderie. By 2004 the record leapt to 11-8 as Schwartz and her teammates combined for a single-season school record 80 goals. Then in 2005, she helped the softball team to a 20-4 conference mark and a GPAC championship.
“People always ask me about games and records and scores,” Schwartz said. “I only vaguely remember that part of it. My most important memories are how much time we spent together as teams going on van rides and bus rides, staying in hotels together and spring break trips for softball. Coach Greene took us somewhere fun every year.”
It seems humility won’t allow Schwartz to recall the moment in 2005 when she surpassed Angela Krueger as the program’s all-time goals leader. It happened Sept. 2, 2005, versus Ottawa, a squad she burned for her 66th career goal. She never stopped peppering the back of the net. Said Giesbrecht at the time, “It is a blessing having a player with Jen’s character on our team. She is committed to the team, loves her teammates and pursues excellence in all she does. Jen is a special player who possesses a great balance of aggression and composure.”
A Lincoln native and a current resident of Lincoln, Schwartz viewed her relocation to Seward as “scary.” She was not someone who wanted to venture far at all from home, but she did take visits to Dordt and Morningside as she mulled her college options. Her older brother played baseball at Concordia, a fact that may have helped sway her. Schwartz also knew she wanted to play both soccer and softball, and Concordia was willing to allow her to do so.
At that time there was no special signing day nor any hoopla regarding Schwartz’s decision to become a Bulldog. By the time she finished at Concordia, she had made an undeniable case for recognition as a Concordia Athletic Hall of Famer. At least for 5-8 minutes in the fall of 2012, she would have to venture outside of her comfort zone.
“When I read the letter my first thought was, they’re going to make me talk for 5-8 minutes in front of everyone,” Schwartz said. “I was a little horrified. I thought about not going. Then I thought, ‘Well I have six months to plan my speech.’ I think I waited until the last two days to write it. After I got over that initial shock of having to talk in front of a lot of people, I was very excited and felt very honored to be a part of that group. There’s no way I would have made it to that level if I hadn’t played with amazing teammates.”
Schwartz says that she and her fellow softball teammates picked up where they left off as they gathered together last year for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She was just fine letting a choked up Coach Greene do the talking this time. Just as Schwartz would have wanted, the theme centered upon the memories that were forged as a group.
So cherished are those memories that Schwartz would be happy for her children (Calvin, Emma and Eldon) to follow in the footsteps of herself and her husband Richard, also a Concordia alum and soccer player. Their 10-year-old son Calvin has already played basketball inside Walz Arena as part of youth tournaments (she thinks she might still be able to beat him in sprints for about two more years). Says Jennifer, “It will be an easy sell (to recruit them to Concordia) because they love it there.”
She added, “I absolutely loved it (at Concordia).”