Williamsburg Golf Team Returns to State Tournament with Thoughts On Coach’s Son
Williamsburg, Iowa — Williamsburg boys’ golf team, the Raiders, returned to the state tournament for the first time after a year-long hiatus. Last year, they ended their participation after a run of eight straight appearances. However, the team’s entry in the tournament had a much more significant meaning.
Namely, the team’s coach, Brad Schaefer struggled to remain calm and not express his emotions. The Williamsburg golf coach was happy that his team went back to playing competitive golf once again, but he was equally touched by his players’ gesture. The players dedicated the result to Tate Schaefer, the coach’s 11-year-old son who’s battling Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG); it’s a tumor that starts in your brainstem.
The Raiders went on the course sporting shirts with a “Tater Tough” logo on it. Moreover, they also expected their supporters to wear team shirts with the slogan “State with Tate”. Young Tate will be present at the Class 2A state tournament, which takes place on Thursday and Friday. They will play at the American Legion Golf Course, in Marshalltown, Iowa. The coach commented the gesture by saying that his players and their families show a lot of care for the Schaefers and Tate, which, naturally, was very emotional for the coach.
Dylan Burns, a Williamsburg senior, spoke after the tournament. He said the players found additional motivation in the fact that they weren’t only playing for themselves and the school. In his own words, they also played for their little brother.
Diagnosing the Disease
Tate Schaefer was relatively active before the disease struck. He played basketball and baseball, and he also shared his family’s love for golf. In the early days of the disease’s development, Tate was in the middle of a basketball season. The first signs showed up when his coaches noticed something was off in his play. He had difficulties receiving and shooting the ball; something that wasn’t an issue before.
His father, Shaefer said that they observed him during a few practice games and noticed he had problems with his eyesight. According to Schaefer, it looked as if Tate couldn’t see the rim. Tate later said that he was seeing double, which stopped him from collecting a pass. Schaefer found this odd, as Tate was always an athletic kid.
They visited an optometrist, who confirmed double vision and advised the family to visit someone else for further diagnosis, as he feared there was something bigger behind it. Unfortunately, he was right. The Schaefers went to the University of Iowa, where they put him in the emergency room after an MRI test.
It’s unimaginable what the family must have felt at the moment. However, as Brad says, they received a lot of support from the community. They met up with Stacy and Craig Schroeder for advice. The Schroeders went through a similar experience, with their late 15-year-old son losing the battle with cancer. Austin inspired the creation of the Fight with Flash Foundation.
The family sought a second opinion, hoping for a misdiagnosis. They sent the MRI scans to Cincinnati Cancer Center and St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, who confirmed the diagnosis. The treatment process started shortly after that. Schaefer said that, because of the location of the tumor, doctors won’t do any biopsies or surgeries. The risk is far too great to do anything beyond MRI.
At the University of Iowa, Tate received several radiation treatments. He’s been accepted for a clinical trial of CED (convection-enhanced delivery) for chemotherapy at the University of California, San Francisco. They will utilize catheters to administer the drug right into the brainstem, where the tumor is.
Young Tate is not giving up. His father said that the fight continues every day, with the youngster going to physical therapy to recover strength loss he’s been getting on the left side of the body. But, despite getting flustered at times, young Tate doesn’t complain. According to his family, he’s a positive kid with a contagious smile. The family is doing their utmost to fill his days with special moments and help him fight the disease.
Brad took his son to a Los Angeles Rams game, where they saw the Williamsburg-born Austin Blythe. They also went to see the Super Bowl with the whole family. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Tate visited Turks and Caicos. Furthermore, he went to The Masters and visited Disney World.
Motivating the Team
As long as he feels well, Schaefer says, Tate will tag along with the golf team, serving as the team’s manager, especially in team pictures. Brad recalls he wasn’t sure if he was going to coach golf again anytime soon. However, Tate’s desire to be surrounded by team members spurred his father on. The benefit is mutual — the Raiders players have found inspiration in the 11-year-old.
When they get frustrated with how things are going on the course, they remember Tate, who represents a prime example of perseverance and strength. Dylan Burns says that it makes him smile when he thinks of how Tate goes from day to day, fighting all the time to do his best. It helps him focus on his game, and Burns feels the feeling is the same throughout the team.
Schaefer believes that they learned that, ultimately, it’s not a big deal if you win or lose. They learned how fortunate they are to do what they love, so they don’t let a bad hole put them down. They stay positive and keep fighting, just like their little brother.
With a 329,56 18-hole team average, Williamsburg sits fourth in Class 2A. Burns is the team’s best player, with an average of 77,22. Second in line is Ryan Cavett, with 82,33.
The fact that they couldn’t reach the state tournament last year only made them hungrier to succeed this year. They will try to win some silverware as, last year, they ended up being second-placed in their district; there’s a possibility they’ll end up at the same position this year. Commenting on the class, Schaefer noted that there’s no dominant team. Whoever manages to link up two good days, the class is up for grabs.