In partnership with the Matt Wyble Team of Century 21 New Millennium, the Severna Park Voice’s Student-Athlete of the Month series seeks to recognize the many student-athletes in our area who make an impact not necessarily by way of statistics or stardom, but by their unique contributions. The quiet leader, the solid role player, the glue guy or gal, the community voice on or off the field — those are the kids we seek to recognize. Do you know a young person in our community making a positive impact through or alongside sports? Nominate them by contacting Colin Murphy at email@example.com.
Everyone can relate to having admiration for the person who volunteers to help in any way she can. That person at Broadneck is senior Elizabeth Shafer.
Shafer, a four-year member of the Bruins’ varsity softball team who is committed to play softball at University of Dayton, is not just a standout on the softball diamond. At Broadneck and beyond, Shafer is involved in every effort she can find the time for to become a better leader and member of the community.
As president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Shafer meets with her peers before school to eat breakfast and organize service projects. As a member of the Student Athletic Leadership Committee at Broadneck, Shafer meets once a week with student-athletes and coaches from other sports at Broadneck to share ideas about how to be better leaders and learn from those with different experiences. A strong student, she’s the secretary of both the Student Government Association and the National Honor Society at Broadneck.
Shafer’s efforts are reflective of her character and drive to put others before herself.
“Elizabeth is the most self-motivated and responsible leader that I have ever coached,” said former Broadneck softball coach Deanna Hamilton. “She is selfless and always puts the needs of others and her team ahead of her own. Her teammates are always looking to her for guidance, and she never lets them down. She is extremely committed to helping the community and volunteers for everything that she can, from being an active member of Habitat for Humanity to being peer minster at her church, among many others.”
One of Shafer’s many pursuits is her fourth season as a student partner in Broadneck’s unified tennis program, where she has bonded with Brian, her partner for this year.
“I love the attitude and energy he brings every day, and he’s never in a bad mood,” Shafer said. “He’s always cheering me on during practices and matches, and he really makes me reflect on who I am as a person and a leader.”
Though Shafer is going to be continuing her softball career at Dayton, the opportunity wasn’t just handed to her. She said the process of securing a spot playing collegiate softball taught her that it’s OK to encounter challenges, and that she had to learn how to navigate difficult stretches.
“The entire college recruiting process was incredibly humbling,” Shafer said. “Some weeks I’d email 20 different coaches and none would come to the tournament. It was frustrating to put so much in and feel like I was getting nothing out of it. Looking back, it taught me so much. From playing in tough situations to making uncomfortable phone calls to coaches I’d never met, softball taught me a lot about getting comfortable being uncomfortable.”
She hopes to study engineering in college, but Dayton struck Shafer as a good fit for her variety of interests.
“I knew I wanted to study engineering, but didn’t want to go to a school that was just engineering,” Shafer said. “Dayton was the perfect balance of engineering, ministry, service and softball.”
While she is continuing to develop as a leader in many respects at Broadneck, she is likewise focused on helping the Bruins softball program succeed next spring. Hamilton said she can be spotted getting extra swings and reps on the diamond all the time, and Shafer said softball has taught her how to be balanced all-around.
“Everything I’ve learned about leading and time-management from sports has helped me earn [my] positions and do them well,” Shafer said. “Since softball is out of season, the other three seniors and I have put together pre-season workouts once a week. I’m grateful for the other seniors because we all lead differently and help keep each other and our teammates in check. I love being able to hang out with my teammates and see them working hard to improve out of season. Right now, seniors are reading “The Hard Hat” by Jon Gordon, and the underclassmen are reading “The Energy Bus.” I can’t wait to see the impact this has on the team and our season.”