CHAMPAIGN — Two of Wade Schacht’s most significant passions — golf and theater — possess a distinct connection in his life.
The Champaign Central sophomore can thank his father, Eric, and a 2011 Parkland College play called “The Little Prince” for that.
“My dad told me that if I auditioned for the show with him he would take me out for a round of golf at Stone Creek (Golf Club in Urbana),” said Wade Schacht, who served in the ensemble while his dad was cast as The Aviator. “So, naturally, I agreed.”
It was the beginning of a best of both worlds scenario for Schacht that continues to this day.
The 2020 News-Gazette All-Area boys’ Golfer of the Year has been a sensation on courses both local and outside Illinois from a young age.
He qualified for the 2015 IMG World Junior Golf Championships at age 10. He took third in the 2017 and 2018 IESA boys’ golf state finals.
And, upon entering the high school ranks, he instantly was the Maroons’ co-star with three-time N-G Player of the Year Justin McCoy.
Schacht took the full spotlight this season with McCoy now graduated, notching a 37.7 nine-hole stroke average and tying for first in his Class 2A regional before falling in a four-way playoff. His sectional output also would have been good for a first-ever state berth in a non-COVID-19 year.
“I think I won like 10 of our 15 regular-season tournaments,” Schacht said. “I felt like I was getting better as the year went on, which was completely the opposite of last year. So I thought this year, there was a lot to learn from it and I think in general it went well.”
What was different last year? A lack of balance.
Schacht played in all 25 of Central’s golf events while also taking on the lead role of Gomez in the Maroons’ theatrical adaptation of “The Addams Family.”
“I looked back on it, and I wouldn’t change anything,” Schacht said. “And at the end of the day, that’s going to be something I have to deal with. It’s long nights coming home and doing homework, but when you balance it out and realize what you’re doing, it’s worth it.”
LaDonna Wilson is Central’s drama director. She said Schacht’s turn as Gomez Addams was well-received, as he brought “a whimsical humor” to the role.
“He tries not to overbook himself, but when you’re that talented you tend to,” Wilson said. “He just has a charisma. The way he commands the stage, he has a really good stage presence. The audience roots for him.”
Schacht got to use an accent as Gomez, something he was familiar with from his first play at Champaign’s Virginia Theatre when he was 8 years old.
“It was probably ‘101 Dalmatians,’ and I was the evil henchman to Cruella de Vil,” Schacht said. “It was fun. I had an accent, so that’s all I really remember.”
Schacht’s current role is Mr. Green in a virtual production of “Clue.”
“It’s kind of over the top,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be a push for him.”
What wasn’t a push was Schacht becoming the area’s top boys’ golfer as a 10th-grader.
“He handled it very well,” Maroons coach Mike Osterbur said. “Our six varsity (players), we had one freshman and four sophomores, and Wade’s going to be the anchor for the team.”
Both Osterbur and Tim Buscombe, Schacht’s swing coach and a PGA life member, said Schacht is exemplary with his irons and shot accuracy.
Osterbur feels Schacht’s next step is gaining more driving distance, which Schacht is gearing toward with an enhanced offseason workout program.
“One of his strengths — and sometimes it’s a strength and sometimes it’s a nemesis — but his confidence in his ability is supreme,” Buscombe said. “A lot of that comes from his tremendous work ethic.”
The “nemesis” portion of that assessment, according to both Buscombe and Osterbur, lies in Schacht’s desire to be perfect. Wilson said she senses that in his theater preparations as well.
“I get the diagnosis that I try to be perfect too much,” Schacht said with a smile.
But it works for him. And Schacht expects his mentality to produce big results very soon.
“If I can be next March, April … where I was at the end of this high school season and build on that through next year,” Schacht said, “next fall you could be seeing some low numbers.”
Honor Roll: Previous News-Gazette All-Area boys’ Golfers of the Year
YEAR ATHLETE SCHOOL
2020 Wade Schacht Champaign Central
2019 Justin McCoy Champaign Central
2018 Justin McCoy Champaign Central
2017 Justin McCoy Champaign Central
2016 Varun Chopra Uni High
2015 Varun Chopra Uni High
2014 Chris Tate St. Thomas More
2013 Andy Bott Bismarck-Henning
2012 Andy Bott Bismarck-Henning
2011 Andy Bott Bismarck-Henning
2010 Seth Trolia Mahomet-Seymour
2009 David Keenan Salt Fork
2008 Ryan Murphy St. Thomas More
2007 Joe Smith Centennial
2006 Michael Davan Bismarck-Henning
2005 Joe Smith Centennial
2004 Joe Smith Centennial