Schuller gets 2nd chance

When a kid’s high school life has revolved around sports, playing in their last game can be an emotional experience.

Having one’s final few games as a senior spoiled by an injury can make them wish for another chance to suit up, even if it’s just one last time.

Harding’s four-sport athlete Payton Schuller gets that chance in today’s Bill Sferra All-Star Classic. Schuller looks forward to getting that second chance.

“Toward the end of the season I suffered a hamstring injury, which was the last thing that I would’ve wanted to happen,” Schuller said. “I played through the injury the last few games, but I couldn’t play to my full potential. I felt like I was letting my team down. Not being able to play my last few games to my full potential was heartbreaking. Playing in the all-star game is like a second chance. I can play one last game of softball healthy.”

Over the past four years, Schuller has donned the black and gold in four sports, in addition to being a member of the marching band as a drummer. Playing soccer, bowling, golf and softball all while balancing out schoolwork is a difficult task, but she loves the thrill of a challenge.

“I’ve always been one to take a challenge, and being a multi-sport athlete was definitely one,” Schuller said. “At times, it was a lot to handle and took everything out of me, but I don’t regret it a bit. I was able to develop families with my teammates and close relationships with coaches. These people have changed my life and influence me to do better everyday.”

Given how sports has been a large part of her life from day one, it makes sense as to why she wanted to surround herself with athletics. Her parents were both athletes and loved the competitive nature of the game.

“My parents are diehard Michigan fans and have played recreational sports for as long as I can remember, so they definitely influenced me to become an athlete,” Schuller said. “The grit of playing as hard as you can in a game that you love so much is exhilarating to me.”

Her passion for sports translates to her career choice. This fall, when Schuller heads to Cleveland State University, she’ll be embarking on a new sports journey, studying Sports Management.

Her original plan was to study something in the scientific field, but she followed her heart and chose her true passion.

“When I was deciding what I should study in college, I was focused on my needs when I should’ve been more focused on what would make me happy,” Schuller. “I’ve always been interested in the sciences, environmental especially, but I wasn’t sure if it would truly bring me joy for the rest of my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without sports. I believe that having a career in the sports industry is what would make me happiest. I have such a strong passion for sports, so I don’t think I would ever be unhappy with my job after studying Sports Management.”

That passion for sports played into her decision to attend Cleveland State. With three professional teams and a Division I college athletics program, the choice was obvious.

“I’m surrounded by everything that I love,” Schuller said. “The atmosphere of the city is incredible. I’m not going to lie, the professional sports teams in the area had a huge impact in my decision. I plan on attending games frequently. The sports organizations won’t only be great for my entertainment, but I hope that they will lead me to my career. It’s my dream to work for any of the three professional sports teams in Cleveland, and I think that Cleveland State will give me the greatest chance of making that dream a reality.”

As of today she doesn’t plan on playing softball in college. But if the opportunity arises, she’ll seize the chance.

“This past year I’ve been debating whether I should focus on academics or fulfill my dream, but I don’t think I could pass up the opportunity to continue playing if I was offered the chance” Schuller said. “I’ve spent so much time over the years expanding my knowledge about the game and perfecting fundamentals. I want to continue learning about the game and helping my teammates. I hope someone will believe in me, and give me the chance to play softball at the next level.”

In sports, second chances don’t come often.

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