Oak Harbor’s Clay Schulte true three-sport standout

Yaneek Smith

In the days of specialization, three-sport athletes have become something of an endangered species.
        But many of the best athletes play multiple sports, and Clay Schulte is certainly one of them.
        The Oak Harbor junior is coming off a very impressive year, one that saw him excel in baseball, basketball and football. Most recently, he starred for the Rocket baseball team, hitting .469 to go with one home run, 19 RBIs and 27 runs. His stellar play has earned him the respect and admiration from many, notably his coach, Nick Lance.
        "His work ethic is amazing for someone in high school. He's continuously in the weight room working to get stronger (and) running on the track with a parachute," said Lance. "He's just a competitor — he doesn't like to lose, he hates failure and he's always working to get better.
        "His overall competitiveness (is impressive), not just for the three sports he plays. He's a member of the National Honor Society, so he's not a typical jock. He was raised the right way. His parents have done a phenomenal job with him."
        Schulte's father, Scott, works as a social studies teacher and is an assistant coach with the football team. He had a great career as a running back at Hillsdale College in Michigan and nearly earned a roster spot with the Miami Dolphins.
        "My parents have been huge (to my success)," said Clay Schulte. "My mom and dad are constantly getting me to do the right things (like) eat right, all that stuff. My dad works with me daily, he'll go run with me and work with me."
        The expectation of a catcher is to handle the pitching staff, block pitches in the dirt and keep base runners at bay.
        "He's one of the best catchers in the area. He likes to control the running game; when teams see him warming up, it makes them take a second thought about stealing," said Lance, who works as a government teacher. "He does a phenomenal job, as well as blocking pitches in the dirt, and he's willing to throw his body on the line.
        "He keeps (the pitchers) in check pretty well. If they get rattled a little bit, he's the first to keep them straight and get their heads cleared. He keeps their confidence up.”
        Schulte, the No. 3 hitter in the Rocket lineup, says he doesn’t take his role as a catcher for granted.
        "My mindset is (that no pitches) are going to get past me. I have the mentality that nothing is going to beat me when I'm blocking pitches," Schulte said. "You've got to do whatever you can to avoid letting the ball get to the backstop. I know blocking pitches does things to help the pitcher's confidence because they know they can trust me."
        Schulte actually became a catcher out of necessity.
        "Ever since we got to kid pitch, no one wanted to play catcher, so I volunteered," he said. "I've never played another position."
        Baseball might not even be Schulte's best sport. He is a standout basketball player and earned All-Ohio honors in football. Schulte was named to the Division V second team for his play at linebacker. He was also named the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division's Player of the Year for his efforts at both running back and linebacker.
        "Compared to football and basketball, (baseball) is not up there, but I still enjoy playing it," he said. "It's something for me to do in the spring, and I enjoy doing it."
        Schulte led the football team with 175 tackles, and came up big in Oak Harbor’s 28-21 victory over Marion Pleasant in the playoffs, finishing with 21 tackles in that game. It was the Rockets' first playoff victory in 12 years. Schulte also had 13 sacks on the year.
        On offense, Schulte rushed 158 times for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns and also caught 43 passes for 467 yards and six scores.
        "It was the best time of our lives. I think anyone on the team can say that. The season was so much fun. Going to every practice was enjoyable," he said. "Everyone had so much fun, and the feeling we got from winning that Marion Pleasant game was amazing."


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