Austin Shafer transfers home to UJ to continue soccer career
Shafer will be using his COVID year to finish his degree in secondary education.
JAMESTOWN — When Austin Shafer was graduating from Jamestown High School he considered continuing his soccer career at the University of Jamestown but ultimately decided to go to NCAA Division II Montana State University Billings. Five years later, the Jimmies had another shot to land the forward and head coach Connor Campbell made it count.
On April 13, Shafer announced he would be using his final year of eligibility to come home and play for the Jimmies.
“Hopefully I score some goals and help the team out,” Shafer said. “Our goal is to win the GPAC and hopefully go to nationals.”
In his career playing for the Yellowjackets, Shafer had six goals, one assist and 12 points. He was also a three time Academic All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference winner.
Shafer is very familiar with the Jimmies program and the players, having played for the Dakota Fusion alongside former Jimmies Aaron Pike and Diego Valle and current Jimmies Daigo Adachi and Frankie Parkinson. He was also teammates with fellow Jamestown natives Ben Sletto and Cullin Bennett when the three were in high school.
Shafer said being so familiar with a lot of his Jimmies teammates will make the transition easier on and off the field.
When Shafer made the decision to leave the Yellowjackets program, he was drawn into the Jimmies program because of the appeal of playing in front of his friends and family.
“It’s home first of all and I decided I would finish out my career at Jamestown and Connor gave me that opportunity,” Shafer said. “I’m really thankful that he did because I’m excited to be playing back in Jamestown after four years in Montana.”
When the possibility of Shafer coming into the program came about, Campbell said he reached out to those who knew him in the program to gauge what kind of person he was.
“I like giving people opportunities to come back home and play because I think there is something really special about that,” Campbell said. “So talking with him, talking with some of the guys, it really made sense. …. It felt like we could be some of what he was looking for on the field. It felt like it was a good fit for him academically as well with what he was still looking to do before graduating and then it made sense on the field as well.”
Campbell envisions Shafer as a striker for his team and said he hopes that Shafer will compliment and elevate his team next season.
“There are things he does really well at his position that are different than other strikers or attacking players do and there are things that other players do that maybe in certain matchups maybe makes more sense,” Campbell said. “So, not just having another skillful player but having guys that have different kinds of skill sets that can be used against different types of opponents is huge.”
Shafer said he is excited to see how much his experience playing for the Yellowjackets and this summer for the Colorado Independent Soccer Academy will help him when he hits the field in the fall.
“I’m really excited,” Shafer said. “I’ve been talking to a few of the guys on the team and I’ve played with a few of the guys over the summer when I was at Fusion and some of my high school teammates. I’m really excited to play in front of my family and friends again in North Dakota and just contribute to a great team.”