Oct. 16—As the sun set Friday night, the USPS Sluggers gathered in Longmont for a final season softball game at Garden Acres Park — not just to face off against the Compadres, but to pay homage to their coach, co-worker and friend Jason Schaefer.
Schaefer, 33, was fatally shot Wednesday while he was delivering mail in southwest Longmont. Police have identified his ex-girlfriend, Devan Schreiner, 26, as a suspect. She was arrested and charged on suspicion of first-degree murder later that day, according to Longmont police.
On Friday, the Longmont leisure softball team that Schaefer helped to coach remembered him as their MVP.
Jessica Price and Tim Schuetz, both rural supervisors for Longmont USPS, helped organize the tribute. On the chain-link fence bordering the game field, the team hung a poster that read "Jason 'MVP' Schaefer." Pasted to it were photos of Schaefer. Nearby a jersey bearing his name and team number — 13 — was hung. That same number glowed from the scoreboard.
Out on the field, in the place where Schaefer would have been playing shortstop, his team wrote the number 13 in chalk and placed a trophy from the summer championship.
"He couldn't make it tonight," Price said, her voice choked with emotion. "We had to make it all about him."
Price and Schuetz described Schaefer as a "goofy, over-the-top" coach.
"He would show up every morning with his hair sticking up," Price said.
"Just like he had a rough night out on the town," Schuetz said.
They said he was a dedicated father, "who loved his kid more than anything in life." Working hard and getting back home to spend time with his child were major priorities.
"(The father and son) would go out and throw baseballs around, Frisbees around," Schuetz said. "He always wanted to know how fast he could leave the office, so he could get back to his family."
Though family took precedence, Schuetz and Price said Schaefer was also a dedicated employee. Price said many of Schaefer's customers have reached out to share with her how wonderful he was.
"He was well-loved in and out of the office," Schuetz said.
Dacono resident Ben Wingstrom, who co-coached the team with Schaefer, said the Longmont dad was the first one to show up for games.
"He was always positive," Wingstrom said. "He never got anybody for making a mistake. He was always happy. He was always bubbly. He was the all-star. He could hit left-handed, right-handed. He could pretty much play anywhere."
Schaefer's mom, Lori Hebert, and stepdad, Chris Hebert, visited Longmont from their home in Deep River, Connecticut, and was among those gathered at the game Friday night. Lori Hebert said her son started working for the Longmont USPS in 2014; before that he spent about seven years working for a USPS in Deep River.
Coming together to watch the game were roughly 50 employees from USPS and many of Schaefer's customers and friends.
"This is wonderful," Hebert said, surveying the crowd. "I miss him so much. It's nice to hear all these wonderful things everyone has to say (about Schaefer) and how much he touched their lives and what a good guy he is, which I already know because I'm his mom."
Hebert said her son had a competitive streak, channeled into an early passion for a variety of sports. Growing up, he played in youth league soccer, basketball and softball.
Chris Hebert said he saw Schaefer's talent for sports when Schaefer was 10 or 11 years old. Tossing a ball around, Chris Hebert said he quickly realized it would be better for Schaefer to practice with a coach.
"I couldn't catch them, he was too fast," Chris Hebert said.
On a poster board, people wrote down memories of Schaefer, recalling his leadership at work as a mentor for his co-workers, savvy for video games and status as a "softball legend."
The team took to the field Friday night wearing jerseys with Schaefer's name and team number. They kept his shortstop spot on the field empty throughout the game in tribute to him.
When asked what she wanted people to remember about her son, Lori Hebert said, "He's a wonderful father, a good kid and a wonderful son — I miss him terribly."