As the sun set on Friday night, the USPS Sluggers gathered in Longmont for a last season softball game at Garden Acres Park – not only to take on the Compadres, but to pay tribute to their coach, colleague and friend Jason Schaefer.
Schaefer, 33, was gunned down Wednesday while delivering mail in southwest Longmont. Police have identified his ex-girlfriend, Devan Schreiner, 26, as a suspect. She was arrested and charged with first degree murder later that day, according to Longmont police.
On Friday, the Longmont recreational softball team that Schaefer helped coach remembered him as their MVP.
Jessica Price and Tim Schuetz, both rural supervisors from Longmont USPS, helped organize the tribute. On the chain-link fence bordering the playing field, the team hung a poster that read “Jason ‘MVP’ Schaefer”. Photos of Schaefer were pasted there. Nearby, a jersey bearing his name and team number – 13 – was hung. That same number shone on the dashboard.
On the pitch, where Schaefer would have played shortstop, his team chalked the number 13 and placed a summer championship trophy.
“He couldn’t come tonight,” Price said, his voice choked with emotion. “We had to do everything around him.”
Price and Schuetz described Schaefer as a “goofy and over the top” trainer.
“He showed up every morning with his hair up,” Price said.
“Just like he’s had a tough night in town,” Schuetz said.
They said he was a devoted father, “who loved his child more than anything in life.” Working hard and coming home to spend time with your child were top priorities.
“(Father and son) would go out and throw baseballs, frisbees,” Schuetz said. “He always wanted to know how quickly he could leave the office, so that he could return to his family. “
Although family came first, Schuetz and Price said Schaefer was a dedicated employee as well. Price said many of Schaefer’s clients have contacted her to tell him how wonderful he is.
“He was beloved in and out of the office,” Schuetz said.
Dacono resident Ben Wingstrom, who co-coached the team with Schaefer, said Longmont’s father was the first to show up to the games.
“He’s always been positive,” Wingstrom said. “He never had anyone to make a mistake. He was always happy. He was still bubbly. He was the star. He could hit left-handed, right-handed. He could play just about anywhere.
Schaefer’s mother Lori Hebert and stepfather Chris Hebert visited Longmont from their home in Deep River, Conn., And were among those gathered at the game on Friday night. Lori Hebert said her son started working for the Longmont USPS in 2014; prior to that, he spent approximately seven years working for a USPS in Deep River.
About 50 USPS employees and many Schaefer’s customers and friends gathered to watch the game.
“It’s wonderful,” said Hébert, observing the crowd. “I miss him so much. It’s nice to hear all of these wonderful things everyone has to say (about Schaefer) and how he touched their lives and how a great guy he is, this that I already know because I am his mother.
Hebert said his son had a competitive streak, channeled into an early passion for a variety of sports. Growing up, he played in the youth league in soccer, basketball and softball.
Chris Hebert said he saw Schaefer’s talent for the sport when Schaefer was 10 or 11 years old. Throwing a ball, Chris Hebert said he quickly realized that it would be best for Schaefer to train with a coach.
“I couldn’t catch them, he was too fast,” said Chris Hebert.
On a notice board, people wrote memorabilia of Schaefer, remembering his leadership at work as a mentor to co-workers, video game connoisseur and status as a “softball legend.”
The team entered the pitch on Friday night wearing jerseys bearing Schaefer’s name and team number. They kept his shortstop spot on the empty field throughout the match in tribute to him.
When asked what she wanted people to remember about her son, Lori Hebert said: “He is a wonderful father, a good child and a wonderful son – I miss him terribly.”