Walking around campus, senior Sarah Scherer passes as a happy, typical TCU student.
She stresses about upcoming tests, sends texts on her cell phone and giggles while talking about her new boyfriend.
However Scherer’s summer was anything but typical.
Scherer is a world-class rifle shooter, who led the Horned Frogs to consecutive national titles. This summer she became the seventh best 10-meter air rifle shooter in the world at the 2012 Olympic games as the youngest shooter in the Olympic finals.
After months of rigorous training and world traveling, Scherer traded in her rifle kit for a backpack and nutrition books. Just one month ago she was fighting for a gold medal in 10-meter air rifle. Now she’s focused on graduating with a degree in nutritional sciences so she can help impoverished people around the world.
“No matter what happens during your summer, school just keeps going on and you’re a regular student again. You go to class like everyone else, the usual thing.” Scherer said.
Scherer’s summer was as illusory as the 0.5 mm air-rifle target. After months of training with the national rifle team coach, Scherer dislocated and fractured her left elbow only two weeks prior to the opening of the Olympics.
After spending her last hours in America enduring intensive physical therapy, she then flew to Denmark to meet her Olympic teammates. Once in London, she qualified for the Olympic finals and finished seventh overall in the 10-meter air rifle event.
Scherer said it was time to “just give it all” and that she was proud that she fought so hard against her injury.
Scherer returned to Fort Worth after completing her world travels, but rest was nowhere on the Olympian’s radar. She spent her free time in London studying for her intensive nutrition program at TCU and when she returned to Texas, she said the stress of school quickly replaced the pressure of the Olympics.
“When I came back from London I just felt like this is so foreign to me. But you just kind of readjust,” Scherer said. “You do a transition between being a world class athlete and then just being a common student, and I don’t mind that. I like kind of having sections of my life that are separate from each other because it allows me to develop…and get a break from each side.”
Sarah Scherer’s mom, Susan Scherer, said her daughter has always been driven, whether toward sports or academics. The support of her mom and both of their strong faiths played a large role in Sarah Scherer’s transition back to life as a student.
“She excelled at many things so I kind of expected great things. She’s very smart. Much smarter than me.” Susan said.
Susan said it wasn’t being a good athlete that helped her daughter in school, but rather her diligence as a student that formed the qualities necessary to become a world-class athlete.
“I think that character really comes together as a whole person, I don’t think we are compartmentalized," Susan said. "I think that discipline at school helped build the stamina for increasing her shooting competitiveness.”
She also said the Olympics surprisingly brought her more time with her daughter as the two toured London together. But once they returned to America, Susan said Sarah’s focus went directly to school.
Aromas of her Olympic summer still linger in every day life. Sarah says that so much of her wardrobe now consists of Team USA apparel given to her by the Olympic Committee.
While friends and family excitedly load her with questions about her time in Europe, Scherer said she’s been focused on her academics and what’s straight ahead, which for her, is graduation in May.
“It’s kind of nice because it’s a reality check for me. Eventually I’m going to have to switch from being a full-time athlete to a full-time professional.” Scherer said.
Though Scherer has faced pressure, when asked if she still worries about tests and school, she said, “Oh my goodness yeah. Just like any other student I have to figure out how to deal with the student stress which is very different, but it’s worth it all."
But Scherer isn’t just like any other student, and sometimes she’s reminded of that in exciting ways.
After she returned from London, Scherer was studying at a local Starbucks when a group of young girls noticed her Olympic team t-shirt.
“They asked me if I was the Olympic rifle shooter…I died. They were just so cute and there was a whole group of girls and their moms were snapping iPhone photos and it was cool,” Scherer said.
Scherer said she gets asked if she’s planning on working toward the 2016 Summer Olympics. However, she’s focused on her goal of using her nutrition degree to make a change in impoverished communities around the world by finding applicable systems to create healthy lifestyles.