AFA freshman has eyes on presidency

Air Force freshman Sammy Schafer, left, is averaging 3.4 points per game. Photo by KIRK SPEER, THE GAZETTE

Sammy Schafer wants to be president of the United States.

No, really. He wants to be president of the United States.

"It's just something I want to do with my life," said Air Force's freshman center, who is expected to make his ninth start tonight when the Falcons wrap up their regular season at BYU. "Being in a position where you represent other people and you try to find ways to connect different things and work out different problems. I like the whole service mentality. And I guess the top you can get in that profession would be the president.

"It's a lot of power, but I could see myself trying to take that on."

He's not alone. Here are two early endorsements:

"If there's anybody that I've ever met as far as that being a reality, it's Sammy," junior forward/center Grant Parker said.

"He's the first player or person that I've ever been around that has aspired verbally, publicly that that's what he would like to do," coach Jeff Reynolds said. "Normally, I'd say, ‘Oh, that's out of the question.' But one day - it would not surprise me."

Schafer certainly has some qualities most people would like in a president:

• Intelligence. He posted a 3.4 grade-point average during the first semester.

• Military background. Check.

• Sophistication. Schafer is incredibly well-read. He reads about two books per week - in addition to the reading he does for school - and lists "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston and Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" as two of his many favorites in addition to "books that make me think."

• Honesty. Schafer spent the first 15 years of his life in Wasilla, Alaska, and considers Gov. Sarah Palin "a good friend of mine" - he lived near her and helped teach her kids basketball. Yet when asked who he voted for in November, Schafer admitted, "Obama."

• Charisma. You betcha.

Spend 20 seconds with eternally smiling, loud-laughing Schafer, and you feel like you have a new friend. He has the politician's gift of naturally drawing people toward him - perhaps the residue of growing up with one younger and five older siblings. During an autograph session after a January game, Schafer engaged each of the kids who received his signature in conversation. And when he posed for pictures, he lifted them into the air.

So kissing babies doesn't seem as if it would be a problem.

"People get to like him without talking to him," Parker said. "And when they do talk to him, it seals the deal even more."

It will be some time before Schafer can run for president. In the meantime, like his current Commander-in-Chief promised the nation, Schafer can pledge hope and change for Air Force's basketball team.

In 15 Mountain West Conference games, he leads a talented freshman class in minutes per game (16.9), points per game (3.4), rebounds per game (2.2) and blocks (seven). And he's surprised even his coaches with his progress. Reynolds credited Schafer's skill set, vision, instincts and feel for the game for helping him overcome some physical limitations - he spreads just 200 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame.

In addition, Schafer's light-up-the-room demeanor - he "absolutely loves" life at a place where freshmen typically struggle - has been vital for a team enduring a dark season.

"He's a very positive influence," Reynolds said.

Sounds like a campaign slogan.

Vote Schafer, 2028.

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