WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The closest that Hesston native Ryan Schadler has ever gotten to bobsledding is pushing a sled on turf in the middle of a Kansas summer.
“I don’t know the difference between a driver, a break guy, a guy that just jumps in and hangs on,” admitted Schadler, a former University of Kansas football player.
An unlikely conversation with the head coach of the Team USA’s Men’s Bobsled National Team, Brian Shimer, would put bobsledding and the winter Olympics on Schadler’s radar.
“I was kind of like… ‘what the heck?’ I hadn’t even watched bobsledding or paid attention to it, but when I did research on it, it made sense – having to be super explosive and strong and fast,” said Schadler. “They had watched my film from college, seen my 40-yard dash and some of my lifts. They were impressed.”
Schadler would receive an invitation to train with the Team USA men’s bobsled national team at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center.
“What it will be is just to meet people, learn the sport, learn how to push on ice and be tested in a few different things like a broad jump and a few sprints,” said Schadler. “If they invite me back, I’ll be most likely on the U.S. development team to continue learning the sport and getting acclimated to it.”
With a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of him, Schadler, remembered why he planted roots in Wichita: “My wife and I’s top priority is ministry with college students.”
Olympic bobsledding is not the only door his KU football career has opened for Schadler.
“The only reason that I’m doing ministry in Wichita is because I played at KU. I had an opportunity to come speak at a YoungLife club as a guest speaker. It’s really cool to look back how that opportunity set up everything.”
Due to prior engagements with YoungLife, Schadler would turn down the Olympic opportunity twice.
“We always pray that God opens doors that needs to be open, but also closes the ones that need to be closed,” said Shadler’s wife, Madison Schadler.
“I was bummed at first because I had been training and it was a really cool opportunity, but I knew it was the right opportunity to decline those first couple of opportunities,” said Schadler.
A third opportunity for Schadler to train at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center would open up in November. This time, he would be able to seize it.
“God kept opening that door and this time we stepped through it,” said Schadler. “My wife and I are in a season of life where we don’t have kids, so I can go to New York in training camp without a huge risk there.”
“That just goes to show how mentally tough and how patient he’s been,” said Schadler’s cousin, Christian Packebush. “Even through the unknowns just letting God take control.”
While Schadler’s priority at the Olympic training center will be learning the sport, he is excited to see where the opportunity can take him.
“I think it’s just another platform to share my story and to impact somebody,” said Schadler. “Who knows who I’ll run into and get to impact and meet?”