STRATFORD, Wis. (WSAW)- With spring sports cancelled, many high school athletes saw their careers end too soon. However, for those whose athletic ventures will continue at the next level, getting ready during the pandemic is both an obstacle, and an opportunity.
Stratford senior Chandler Schmidt in Stratford, Wisconsin, on May 1, 2020. (WSAW)
"There's nothing like getting out on the diamond, (I’m) struggling not having a baseball season especially."
Last spring as a junior, Chandler Schmidt was the leading hitter on Stratford's first ever state title winning team in baseball.
"It's cool," Schmidt said on reminiscing about the championship. "Not a lot of athletes even get the chance to play in a state title."
Fast forward a year, Schmidt will end his high school baseball career as a champion, but not in the fashion he was hoping for.
"We had a great team coming back," Schmidt said. "We had a bunch of up and coming sophomores, and our junior class was pretty good too. So I think we had a chance to defend our title again."
Instead of chasing another gold trophy, the challenge in front of Schmidt now is preparing to play college baseball at Winona State next year, without having a senior season as a tune-up.
"I'm just going to be out here working almost every day," said Schmidt. "Trying to get the workouts in, trying to do some strength training as much as I can and conditioning, and just getting out here is all I can really do."
Luckily, Chandler has a pretty good teacher in his corner.
"He knows a thing or two about baseball."
He, is Chandler's father, Curt, an assistant coach on last year's title winning team, who also played college ball himself at La Crosse in the 1990's.
"If you want to be really good at something, it's got to be a lifestyle,” said Curt. “If every day, he doesn't work at the game, he's not getting better."
You can catch father and son at this field every day working on physical skills. But why both agree Chandler will be a successful Division-II player, falls between the ears, something uniquely ingrained in him from growing up in Stratford.
"Definitely a winning mentality for sure," says Chandler. "What it takes to win, how much hard work it takes to win big games."
"That's one thing he has, is that mentality to succeed," said Curt. "To do whatever it takes to be successful."
Even though he's a Wisconsin boy who's playing college baseball in Minnesota, Chandler said the thing he’s looking forward to most about getting to Winona State is the team’s annual spring trip to Florida. He's excited to stay in a nice condo and play games in warm weather for a week.