When you are six feet and 200 pounds, it is hard to be in someone’s shadow, but that could easily be the case for Spencer Schmidt.
The standout striker for the Trinity Western Spartans men’s soccer team, his teammates will look to Schmidt for offence as they take on the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday in the Canada West Final Four tournament in Victoria.
The problem is his little sister, who casts a large shadow. Sophie, 23, has represented Canada 68 times and plays professionally in the U.S.-based Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league.
But while there could be some sibling rivalry in such a situation, the elder Schmidt sees it a different way.
“I know I taught her everything she knows anyways,” he said with a laugh.
The siblings, and their younger brother, grew up around the game in Paraguay.
And when the family moved to Canada – Schmidt was eight or nine – the passion for the sport remained.
He joined the rep program with the Abbotsford Soccer Association. He advanced to the Metro level, then earned a university scholarship.
Schmidt led the Spartans with seven goals in 14 Canada West conference games, which tied him for second in scoring in the eight-team conference. He added two assists, and nine points placed him fifth in Canada West.
“He brings goals, and a cannon of a shot,” said coach Pat Rohla. “And an ability to raise the team’s level of play, the people around him.”
After high school, he attended the University of Washington on a soccer scholarship, but then transferred to the University of the Fraser Valley, where he played the 2007 season with the Cascades, scoring eight goals in 15 games.
This was followed by a two-year hiatus from the game, at least at the university level.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do academically,” he said. “I wanted to take a break and step back and figure out what I wanted to do.”
Eventually deciding he would study business, and with two years of eligibility remaining, Schmidt went to TWU and the Spartans.
He wasn’t sure what to expect.
“It is always a little bit different when you come back after a couple of years,” he said, especially at such a competitive level like the CIS.
“You are older and you have had a couple of years to figure things out, so you are a little bit more motivated, a little bit more focused and you know how to manage your time a little bit better.”
It is also different coming back as a 25-year-old compared to players who may just be fresh out of high school. While teammates go back to their dorm rooms or wherever they live, Schmidt goes home to his wife of 15 months, Emily.
But the transition has been seamless.
“He has fit right in,” said Rohla. “And he loves being around the team, being in the action.
“He is a coach’s dream.”