From Rowing to Sowing Knowledge, Matthew Schaeffer Educates, Competes

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Outside Campus Ministry, Matthew Schaeffer teaches, coaches water polo and swimming, and trains as an amateur rower. Schaeffer teaches theology outside Loyola and even explored Israel and Greece in archaeological expeditions during the summers of 2006 and 2014. Recently, he placed first in the Ballona Creek Grand Prix on Dec. 2 and he is training for international-level competition.

Schaeffer began at Loyola teaching four sections of moral theology and one section of scripture. He also taught ancient Hebrew at Loyola Marymount University.

In 2010 Principal Frank Kozakowski asked Schaeffer if he would become the Director of Campus Ministry. Schaeffer agreed, as long as he could continue to teach classes. Due to his campus ministry responsibilities, Schaeffer only got to teach one class of biblical archaeology, a senior theology elective.

“I realized, while that was fun for me and the students, there was a need for the school to have a liturgy class,” Schaeffer said. “I wanted liturgy to be something that was more vibrant and engaging, and something that was by the students.”

In 2011 Schaeffer started his liturgy class and began to lead the liturgy during Mass.

“I think changing the dynamic of the liturgy led to it becoming more energetic and created an environment where the students were invested,” Schaeffer said.

In addition to archaeology and being Director of Campus Ministry and theology teacher, Schaeffer competes in many rowing regattas across the nation.

Schaeffer always starts his days with rowing. He gets up at 4:30 a.m. and travels to the Marina Del Rey, where his club, the California Yacht Club, practices. Schaeffer gets on the water around 5:30 a.m. and completes practice around 7:00 a.m.

Initially, Schaeffer did not plan to attend an international rowing trial, but in 2016 Schaeffer placed third in the Olympic trials.

“I competed with my doubles partner. Neither of us really thought that we were going to Olympic trials, ” Schaeffer said.

Before the season, Schaeffer and his partner got into the boat, after some time rowing on the water, they realized they worked well as a team. Schaeffer and his partner  put in a lot of effort and focused to do well at the Olympic trials.

Schaeffer and his partner jumped at the chance to participate in an Olympic qualifying event.

“Never have I worked so hard and put in so much time, but also never have I been so satisfied or proud than at that time,” he said. “It  was one of the high points of my life.”

When Schaeffer’s partner received a job in Texas, the pair split. Now, Schaeffer trains mostly in the single.

Schaeffer said that he will see where his rowing performance will take him in 2019 for the 2020 Olympics hosted in Japan.


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