This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Bret Schoolmeester, class of 2002. Bret’s journey demonstrates how small moments of effort and integrity add up over our lives. We are thankful to have alumni like Bret making an impact in both the athletic and business communities.
Growing up at Denver Christian
While growing up in the Denver area, Bret spent a significant part of his childhood at Denver Christian. Bret’s father, Dale, taught and coached at Denver Christian, and Bret had siblings who also attended. Bret’s mom, Myra, is also a DC graduate. From the morning commute to after-school sports practices, Bret’s family would be at school for close to twelve hours on some days. Looking back, Bret sees how the community shaped his life: “Honestly, it was kind of like a second home,” Bret says. In the four short years of high school, Bret looks back at, “A lot of memories, a lot of growing, a lot of formative experiences.”
Athletics at Denver Christian played a significant role in Bret’s life. When he was in elementary school, his father started the cross-country program. (Bret’s father ran for so much of his life that he went 30 years without missing a day.) At first, the program was so small that they did not always have enough athletes to tabulate a team score. Over time, the program grew as Bret headed into high school. Bret remarks, “I love small school sports because you don’t need thoroughbreds, just willing athletes who want to show up and play their role.” He notes how most of the success comes from working hard and having a good attitude. From that foundation, teams flourish competitively while maintaining their love of the sport. Bret learned the importance of quality community from his father. He modeled that “getting people out and making it fun is more important,” Bret notes. “Other success and trophies and titles will be born from that.”
From CU to Nike
In Bret’s senior year of high school, CU had won a national title in cross country. After successful cross country and track seasons in his senior year, Bret committed to CU, where he continued to develop his passion for running. In his junior year, the CU team beat expectations and won a national championship on an upset. Following this historic win in college, Bret signed a deal with Nike and ran professionally for a short time. While this experience was difficult, Bret enjoyed being in the running environment and traveling for a few years.
During his running career, Bret was drawn to the Nike campus’s energy and began writing in a magazine for running specialty stores. This transition was made possible by Bret’s ability to pivot, and the underlying skills he had developed. Bret gave a “shout out” to his high school English teachers, Tami Zietse and Rene Myer, to whom Bret says he owes, “a huge debt of gratitude.” Bret believes that no matter what field you go into, “being able to communicate yourself in writing is an important skill.”
Growing as a Leader
After starting his career at Nike, Bret transitioned to a few different roles at the company, working in marketing and then product management. Bret is now the Senior Running Footwear Director. While Bret might not be running professionally, he believes that the skills he learned from high school have made a huge impact on his career and management style. Just as his father brought joy to the high school cross-country circuit, Bret brings that same energy and passion to his work: “When you’re having fun, you do better work. When you do better work, you have more fun.”
Bret and his wife, Kendall, live outside Portland, Oregon with their three children, who all enjoy their own sports as well. We are so thankful for our alumni who bring the kingdom wherever they go.