Isabel Schumacher made history for Briarcliff High School, becoming their first student to make All League in squash. The senior also was named a U.S. Squash Scholar Athlete, an honor bestowed as well on classmates Caroline Adams and Paige Mischenko.
Isabel has been playing squash from a young age, thanks to the influence of her father, Michael Schumacher, a collegiate player.
In 7th grade, she joined the school’s first squash team, founded by her dad, older brother Caleb, and community members who recognized the sport’s potential in the absence of many winter sports.
Caleb, now competing in Division I squash at Fordham University, was a major influence in the development of Briarcliff’s varsity squash team.
Isabel says Caleb constantly inspires her. “I followed the example he set by his management of athletics and schoolwork.” Isabel aims to keep the family tradition going by also playing squash in college next year, with Tufts and Cornell on her wish list.
Isabel attributes the rising popularity of squash in Briarcliff in large measure to the middle school team that her family helped start.
When she was a high school freshman, there was a single, coed team of some 20 students. Now, the high school has a boys’ team numbering nearly 30, with 10 on the girls’ squad.
When Isabel is not on the court or focusing on her studies, she is active in giving back to the community. She has been a member of the Girl Scouts for 12 years, and has worked for several food drives.
One of her most gratifying experiences is her involvement over the summer in CitySquash, an after-school organization in the Bronx that helps young, motivated students reach their potential both academically and athletically.
The program is divided between tutoring students, as young as third grade, and then afterwards encouraging them on the squash court. Isabel’s participation proved enriching. She has continued to devote her free time to helping younger students, as a twice–weekly reading and math tutor at Kumon, and by tutoring students after school through the National Honor Society.
Academically, Isabel is drawn to English and History, but is undecided on which she will pursue when she attends college next fall. Safet to say, though, no matter what is in her book bag this time next year, there will be a squash racket in her hand.
Q&A with Isabel Schumacher
How do you balance community involvement, as well as academic achievement, with the commitment of athletics?
Balancing my activities is quite difficult but I find staying organized through planners and checklists keeps me on track. With my homework planner, my google calendar with upcoming tests, and sticky notes littering my desk with memos, I balance all my involvements and make me get all the work I have done. (The copious amounts of coffee I drink also helps!)
What motivates you most on the field, court, etc.?
What motivates me most on the court is my goal of playing college squash. Keeping that idea in the back of my mind as I train, or don’t perform as well as I know I can helps me remember the purpose of why I am playing and why I love the sport so much. Over the quarantine period, I was able to take a step back and reflect on the role squash plays in my life. Coming back in the Summer and Fall I was mentally ready and refreshed, ultimately helping me get back into training even harder with my main goal of playing college squash.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment (could be academic, athletic, community-related)?
One of my best accomplishments would be the time I spent volunteering over the summer at City Squash in the Bronx. Half of the time I would spend tutoring and reading with the kids, and then went over to the squash courts to play. City Squash is an afterschool program aimed at helping young people from economically disadvantaged households reach their potential academically and athletically. Being a part of this program was very gratifying and fulfilling to see kids learn both on and off the court.
What is the most rewarding part of achieving feats for your team?
The most rewarding part of playing squash at Briarcliff is being the deciding match playing another school. Knowing that the result is dependent on how you perform individually is super nerve-wracking, but can be extraordinarily rewarding.
Is there someone who has inspired you, or helped you meet your achievements?
There have been so many people that have helped and inspired me on my journey. My dad played squash in college so from a young age I have had a racket in my hand. He has been a coach for me on and off the court but has given me room to flourish on my own. He has always pushed me and has helped me realize the potential in myself. Also, my older brother Caleb was instrumental in creating the Varsity Squash team at Briarcliff. He also plays Division I Squash at Fordham and constantly inspires me and I have followed the example he set for me by his management of his athletics and schoolwork. My mom is the person I always turn to talk to because her advice and recommendations are what keep me achieving my bigger and smaller goals.
How do you involve yourself in the community?
I have involved myself in the community by volunteering at City Squash over the summer and coaching and tutoring young children. Also, I am currently working at Kumon and am tutoring children in math and reading two days a week. I have also been a Girl Scout for 12 years and have collected and packaged food items for food drives. As a member of NHS, I also tutor other students after school.
If you could describe your experience as a student-athlete in three words, what would they be?
Challenging yet gratifying
A native of Colorado, Samantha Jambor now spends her time as a writer in Tarrytown.