Family atmosphere the favorite part of Blair Schaefer's time in Starkville

Blair Schaefer during her playing days at Starkville High School
Staff Writer

It was a day that seemed like a long time ago for Mississippi State head women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer, but on the other hand, it was like only yesterday.

When Schaefer watched his daughter Blair sign a scholarship to become a Bulldog at the Starkville High School library, it was the start of quite a journey for their family.

Coach Schaefer said the opportunity to have success at State with his daughter on the team is like “living the dream.”

Blair and this year’s other four Bulldog seniors have enjoyed a 117-20 record in the last four seasons.

During that time, Blair has come to love and appreciate MSU and the Starkville community.

She said the family atmosphere is what impressed her the most after the Schaefer family moved from Texas.

“We came here and everyone was so nice,” Blair Schaefer said. “They really didn’t have to explain it because it was shown everywhere we went. That’s my favorite part.

“I don’t think I could have imagined it being any better, but especially the fans embracing all of us – my family and this recruiting class. The support they’ve given all of us is crazy and amazing and I’m really appreciative for it.”

Blair is having her best season for the Bulldogs.

So far in 28 games, Blair’s numbers are up from the previous year with an average 9.9 points per game, 56 assists and 14 steals.

Coach Schaefer says Blair deserves the credit for becoming the player she has become.

“She’s earned her way,” coach Schaefer said. “She’s the glue. She’s our toughness kid. She takes more charges. She’s our best help defender. You’ve got to guard her over there because if you don’t, she’ll knock down a shot and by being over there and being a space eater, it opens up the floor for the other four who are really good at what they do.”

Blair reached All-State status during her time at SHS, but didn’t play much right away at MSU.

She played in 24 games as a freshman and 33 games as a sophomore, but with no starts. She averaged 9.6 minutes per game in that second year.

Coach Schaefer knew that Blair wanted more time on the court, but felt like she still needed some improvements to make.

“For a young kid that feels like they want more and deserves more, most kids across the country say, ‘hey, this isn’t working. I’m going somewhere else,'" coach Schaefer said. "She and I had that conversation when we got back from Connecticut (after Blair’s sophomore year).

“My message to her, as the coach, was ‘I think you can do more, but you know what, you need to get in the gym and work more,’ and she did. Give that kid credit. She got in the gym and worked at it. She has made herself into a Southeastern Conference basketball player. She averages more minutes on our team than anybody because I can’t take her off the floor.”

Blair is playing some of her best basketball down the stretch of her senior season. She has averaged 11.5 points and shot 53.8 percent from 3-point range in the last two games.

The Bulldogs go into Thursday night’s final regular season home game against Auburn with records of 28-0 overall and 14-0 mark in the Southeastern Conference. They are No. 2 in the country in both major polls behind UConn.
That has come after a season where MSU reached the Final Four and played for the 2017 national championship.

It has made for an outstanding career for the former Lady Yellowjacket turned Bulldog.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t really look to my senior year of college like that, but I would only hope it would be a great four years here,” Blair said.

Now Blair will be able to look back some day and see that it was.