On This Date (March 30, 2008): Schmidt is Schuylkill Scholar-Athlete
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to sports locally and nationally, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from March 30, 2008).
By Joe Plasko
POTTSVILLE - It was a weekend to remember for Travers Schmidt.
On Saturday, the Tamaqua Area High School senior homered and singled with four runs batted in and also earned the pitching win in the Blue Raiders’ 15-5 victory over Lehighton.
On Sunday afternoon, Schmidt and the rest of the Tamaqua boys Schuylkill League champion swim team were honored at their booster club banquet, where it was announced he has been named the Male Swimmer of the Year by the league’s coaches.
The biggest accolades were reserved for Sunday evening, when Schmidt was selected as Outstanding Senior Scholar-Athlete by Schuylkill County Chapter No. 25 of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
The announcement was made during the Schuylkill Chapter’s 47 annual Scholar-Athlete Award Dinner at Pine View Acres, Pottsville.
Schmidt is the first Tamaqua Area student to receive the chapter’s top award in 32 years and only the third overall. The last to be named as Schuylkill’s top scholar-athlete was Mike Miorelli in 1976. Robert Hartwig III was the other Raider recipient in 1967.
Making the presentation to Schmidt were David J. Holley, president of Schuylkill Chapter 25, and Mantura Gallagher, chairwoman of the Schuylkill County Commissioners.
“It’s amazing to be recognized in so many ways,” said Schmidt while holding the Heisman style trophy.
The award also includes a $1,000 scholarship as well as a football autographed by all 14 of this year’s Schuylkill senior scholar-athlete representatives, each of whom received a blue blazer, cap and $100 from the chapter.
Travers is the son of Rick and Angela Schmidt of Hometown.
At 6-0, 195 pounds, Schmidt was a four-year starter at linebacker for the Blue Raiders, leading the team in tackles (90), forced fumbles and recoveries this season. He was also a starter at quarterback for two years before being switched to fullback during his senior season.
For his career, Schmidt completed 104 of 272 passes for 1,305 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a fullback, he was second on the team in rushing this past season with 321 yards on 87 carries and five touchdowns, finishing his career with 265 carries for 768 yards and 10 TDs.
He was a TIMES NEWS All-Star selection as well as a First Team linebacker on the Anthracite Football League and Schuylkill County Coaches All-Star squads, garnering Co-MVP honors on defense from the coaches.
Travers has excelled in the classroom, ranking second in his graduating class, and is also an active member of his church who volunteers for the American Cancer Society, the Little Schuylkill Conservation Club and Meals on Wheels.
He will continue his academic and athletic careers at Cornell University, where he will be a defensive back on the gridiron and major in environmental science.
In accepting the award, Travers thanked his coaches, particularly Tamaqua head coach Sam Bonner, a personal trainer who has worked with him since Schmidt was 12 years old, as well as his teachers. He also thanked his family; he noted his mother was not present because she doesn’t like the limelight, but he credited her for proofreading every essay he wrote as well as pushing him to go to the gym for daily workouts.
“In order to be good on the field, you have to put the work in the weightroom in the offseason, and in order to do good in the classroom, you have to do the hard work in homework and studying for the tests,” Schmidt said afterward. “Any way you look at it, hard work makes everything pay off for you.
“Football is important to me, but 40 years from now there’s no reason to think I’m going to be playing football,” Travers said. “Going to college and getting an Ivy League education is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.”
The TIMES NEWS area was also represented at the event by Christopher Fadule of Marian, a 5-9, 170-pound wideout and defensive back from Hazleton who is ranked at the top of his class, and Christopher Haggard of Panther Valley, a 5-9, 131-pound quarterback, wingback and defensive back from Summit Hill who has accepted a full Army JROTC scholarship to Niagara University.
Each school is also invited to send up to six freshman scholar-athletes to the banquet.
Freshman representatives from Marian were Dominic Richards, Evan Bellizia, Kyle Garber, Justin Petrovich, Brett Befano and Robert Kelly.
Representing Panther Valley were John Horvath, Nick McArdle, Anthony Staivecki, Kevin Dunn, Mike Weaver and John Owens.
Tamaqua freshmen were Grif Griffiths, Josh Turner, Ryan Palsgrove, Tyler Kehl, Carl Wittig and Michael Streisel.