By Heidi Toth
Ich bin ein Lumberjack.
After graduation, Felix Schumann will return to his home country of Germany with four years of collegiate tennis behind him, fluency in English, a slew of awards from his four years at Northern Arizona University, both on the men’s tennis team and as a marketing and management major in the Franke College of Business and relationships forged on long road trips, through hard-earned wins and hard-fought losses and facing late nights with looming deadlines.
“The best thing that happened to me here at NAU was the relationships I made with my teammates, classmates and my teachers, especially in FCB,” he said. “Being bilingual and having friends from all over the world will help me in the future, and it would not be possible without NAU.”
Schumann’s NAU experience started when NAU men’s tennis coach Ki Kroll actually went to his hometown of Duisburg to recruit him, which helped NAU stand out from the other universities, whose coaches reached out via Skype. Schumann also knew another German tennis player who’d spent his collegiate career at NAU and spoke highly of his experience, so the university was a good fit.
Leaving home for the first time at 18 isn’t easy for any college student, but Schumann faced additional difficulties.
“Coming here with my limited English skills, away from my parents, was a struggle in the beginning,” Schumann said. “Looking at it now, it helped me become more independent and improve my English skills a lot.”
He traveled throughout the country for games, building friendships with his teammates—who this year hailed from Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, California, Israel, England, Bolivia and another native German—and exploring more of the United States. He learned good time management skills, balancing his sport with his schoolwork, and worked closely with professors to ensure he was grasping the concepts and keeping up with homework.
And he kept up. Schumann was named to the Big Sky All-Academic Selection for two years and received the Golden Eagle Award for all four years he was at NAU while also standing out on the court. He was team captain in his final year and was ranked in the top 80 in Tennis Europe rankings.
That leadership and commitment to succeed was evident in the classroom as well. Marketing professor Len Hostetter, who taught Schumann in two upper-level courses that required more than turning in homework and taking tests, said Schumann stood out for his work ethic and personality.
“He made a hugely favorable impression upon our client this semester, for which Felix collaborated with a team to prepare a strategic marketing plan,” Hostetter said. “Felix stood out based upon the insight and attention to detail he provided to the client during the oral presentation.”
Chris Drake, who was Schumann’s academic adviser for most of his time at NAU, also praised his work on and off the court. She said he grew in confidence and figured out who he was during his time here, rising to the challenge every time.
“From our first interaction, I knew there was something special about Felix,” Drake said. “He has a quiet way of standing out in a group. His demeanor, hard work and ethical standards have always left a lasting impression on me, and he is an encourager and supporter for others and always reaches out to help people.”
After graduation, Schumann is returning to Germany to do an internship with Fila International.