When Stephen Schmidt ’40 roamed the fields of Oglethorpe more than 75 years ago as a four-sport letterman, he probably couldn’t have envisioned the synthetic turf that now covers the soccer and lacrosse field. Or that the Schmidt Sport and Recreation Center would bear his name. And the thought of great-grandchildren knocking a ball around the same campus was probably nowhere near his radar.
However, this summer, head men’s soccer coach Jon Akin’s Future Stars soccer camp had the privilege of coaching one of Schmidt’s great-granddaughters. Mallory, 8, lives not far down the down the road but was attending her first week of athletics camp at Oglethorpe. Her older sister, Jules, 12, had previously attended basketball camps on campus.
Mallory is aware the family patriarch has ties to Oglethorpe, telling Akin she knew there was a bench named after Schmidt, but didn’t know the role he played during some tumultuous years in Oglethorpe’s history. Schmidt’s tireless fundraising efforts in the 1960s help keep the university financially solvent, earned him the “Mr. Oglethorpe” moniker and got a portion of Peachtree Road in front of the university named after him.
“Few checks arrived at the university during those years that didn’t have Steve Schmidt’s tracks on them,” said Elgin MacConnell, a longtime former staff member of Oglethorpe.
Schmidt probably knew his efforts to protect Oglethorpe would go on to benefit future generations. He just might not have realized it would be his own family.