On Feb. 1, the Crimson Tide indoor track & field team will head to Lincoln, Neb., to compete in the Frank Sevigne Invitational, where plenty of eyes will be focused on Krystle Schade.
Schade, a senior high jumper, has won her event at all three of the team’s competitions so far this season, making a streak of seven consecutive regular-season victories dating back to last season.
Schade began her high jump career in middle school, when she saw her track & field coach instructing the boys’ team in the high jump.
“I said ‘Hey Coach, let me try that; I think I can do it,’ and he said ‘Sure, give it a try.’”Schade said. “I ended up jumping something like four feet, five inches, and Coach said ‘Wow, that was really good! I’m gonna put you in it from now on,’ and I started jumping every Saturday at a meet.”
After a distinguished career at Piper High School in Sunrise, Fla., Schade made the decision to stick with track & field at Alabama.
“I took a lot of visits to SEC schools. I knew I wanted to go to a big conference, and when I took a visit [to Alabama] I just loved the feeling I got when I was surrounded here when I came here my freshman year,” Schade said.
Schade earned a win at the Ole Miss Invitational her freshman year and placed fourth at the SEC Outdoor Championships. She continued to perform well over the next two seasons, with wins at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational, Meyo Invitational, and NCAA East Regional and four All-American Awards.
Schade’s season last year was her best by far, as she won five events and was again awarded All-American honors. She ended the season with a second-place finish in the high jump at the NCAA Championship, the best showing by an Alabama women’s high jumper since 1983.
Schade says she realizes that performing so well creates high expectations for herself, but she tries not to let it affect her once competition begins. She knows that she is a role model for her younger teammates, a role that she relishes.
“I love being a motivational push to someone. I get great satisfaction from watching someone I mentored grow and change,” Schade said. Her teammates also say they appreciate this side of Schade.
“Even without her talking to everyone and encouraging them, her performance alone leads the team because you want to be as good as Krystle. She’s very good at being confident in competition,” teammate Lee Stowers said.
Moving forward, Schade says she has one goal for this season: to become a national champion. She detailed her strategy of self-motivation to help her reach that goal.
“I know I have a lot of people on my back. I’m a big target. When I’m standing on the line, I always say to myself, ‘Krystle, you got this. This is gonna be easy, just treat it like practice.’ No matter win or lose, you just have to be happy and excited,” Schade said.