College: Schafer makes transition to Division I level

Caitlin Schafer, a 2013 San Benito High graduate, played in all 33 games last year as a sophomore on the Loyola Marymount women's water polo team.

Like most collegiate freshmen, Caitlin Schafer knew going from high school to playing Division I water polo would be a big step up in competition and intensity.
“I was expecting the workouts to be hard, but until you’ve been through them, I don’t think anyone understands how demanding they are,” said Schafer, the former San Benito High standout who just started her junior year at Loyola Marymount University. “I remember the first week of school and trying not to fall asleep in class because I had training beforehand.”
Things got even tougher in the couple of weeks before the season started—college water polo’s season runs from January to early May—due to having double workout days.
“Double days started right before New Year’s Day, and we’d do it for 11 to 12 days in a row,” Schafer said. “The first time I did it I was probably in tears because I had never worked out that hard in my life. But by the end of it I was pretty happy because I could swim forever if I had to. I was pretty much living in the pool.”
Schafer has made a nice transition from breaking records at San Benito High—she scored an unfathomable 485 goals to go along with 413 steals and 213 assists—to Loyola Marymount, which is looking to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.
After playing sparingly as a freshman, Schafer appeared in all 33 games during her sophomore season, tallying nine goals on just 24 shots to go along with 38 steals and 17 assists to just seven turnovers. Schafer didn’t start but was one of three reserves who received ample playing time.
As she enters her junior season, Schafer plans on earning a starting role for the two-time defending Golden Coast Conference champions. Schafer, who carried a 4.3 GPA in high school and is on both an academic and athletic scholarship at LMU, started playing water polo much earlier than most of her peers.
As the youngest child—and only girl—of four children, Schafer grew up playing water polo with her three older brothers. They all played for the same club team at one point, and often times practices and matches were co-ed.
“I’ve been playing with and against boys since I was 10,” she said. “Even in high school, our girls team scrimmaged the guys team sometimes.”
Playing against the guys made Schafer that much tougher and set her up for tremendous success at San Benito, where she has fond memories. Schafer always played bigger than her 5-foot-6 frame, often rising out of the water to gain separation from defenders before unleashing hard-driving skip shots or finesse shots with pinpoint accuracy.
Schafer had double-digit goal-scoring games multiple times at San Benito, but interestingly enough, she couldn’t recall her career high for goals in a single game.
“I think it was 13,” she said.
Schafer spent most of her summer in Los Angeles, but was in Hollister to see the team practice on Aug. 26.
As a senior, Schafer played with Grace Larson, who is one of the top players on this year’s San Benito team.
“There are a couple of girls on the team who I’ve been swimming with since I was 7,” she said. “I’m excited to see how Gracie and the team does this season.”
The fact that Schafer is receiving more money from her academic scholarship than her athletic scholarship is a testament to her talent and work ethic in the classroom and in the pool.
“You couldn’t ask for a better kid,” said John Schafer, Caitlin’s father. “You have to be happy with what she’s doing.”
Of that, there is no doubt.

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