When Christian Schrodt ’23 transferred to Dominican University of California from Colorado School of Mines, he never imagined it would lead him to a one-time photo gig at a Golden State Warriors game that resulted with him securing a full-time job with the PGA TOUR.
Christian’s Dominican experience is yet another in a series of once-in-a-lifetime experiences for him.
“I love it and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The friends I’ve made here. The memories I’ve made here. The opportunities I’ve had here like shooting a Warriors game,” says Christian, a business administration major and star player on the Penguins golf team.
“Had you told me when I came to Dominican, I’d be shooting an NBA game and then I’d be working professional sports when I graduated, I’d say you’re crazy. The opportunities I’ve had. The people I’ve met. The memories I’ve made and the relationships I have are all going to last me the rest of my life and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.”
On December 5, Aaron Fitzner, assistant athletics director for marketing, media relations and facility management, arranged through the Warriors to host a small group of Dominican student-athletes. They were given media credentials at the Chase Center so they could participate in a pregame Q&A with beat writers from ESPN and Bay Area News Group, receive baseline access for pregame content, attend postgame media sessions with Coach Steve Kerr, Donte DiVincenzo, and Stephen Curry, and take advantage of networking opportunities with Warriors and local NBA staff.
Christian, an aspiring photographer and avid basketball fan, took it to heart. With camera in hand, he was assigned a position about 10 feet from the court next to the tunnel leading to the visiting team’s locker room. He happened to sit right next to a guy who is a video/content producer for the Indiana Pacers. They struck up a conversation during the first quarter of the game.
Christian learned that the Indiana Pacers producer earned his dream job simply by applying for it online, so Christian decided to do the same. During the holiday break between semesters at home in Mission Viejo, he applied for dozens of positions and a week later was contacted by a PGA TOUR recruiter.
“I was on cloud nine,” Christian says.
Ironically, when he was a 16-year-old sophomore at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, Christian said he dreamed of someday “joining the PGA Tour” albeit as a golfer.
“In a weird, full circle, kind of way it is joining the PGA Tour,” Christian says, smiling. “It was always a dream to play professional golf but at the end of the day this is as close as I’ve ever gotten so to be able to work with the best players in the world and the best college players in the world also is absolutely a dream come true.”
Christian is working remotely part time until he graduates in May and relocates to Jacksonville Beach near PGA TOUR Global Headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach to begin full-time work for PGA TOUR University. It’s a program designed to strengthen and elevate the path to the PGA TOUR through the Korn Ferry Tour, Canadian Tour and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
“I will be responsible for developing relationships with the upcoming college golfers who are going to be turning pro and playing on the PGA Tour and telling their story. I will be providing content – whether it’s written articles, photos, videos, social media content, short form content - and helping them establish a fan base, a brand, and a following before they turn professional,” Christian explains. “So once they are on the biggest stage people will know who they are.”
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To help make that transition, Christian will rely on the skills he developed in the Barowsky School of Business.
“I learned a lot about the importance of good communication,” he says, “Whether it is email or text or some other form, so many of the stressful situations we find ourselves in can be avoided by communicating better and being more transparent with our friends and coworkers.”
The road to Dominican for Christian was a long and winding one. In high school, a rival coach selected him for a Team USA team that traveled to China to play in a Ryder Cup style competition with Asia-Pacific teams. Though he had offers to play at NCAA Division I golf programs, Christian decided to go to Golden to play at Colorado School of Mines. He switched his major from engineering to economics his sophomore year, but it didn’t afford him the balance he was seeking between academics and athletics. Christian entered the NCAA transfer portal and emailed more than 50 schools looking for a better fit.
Penguins golf coach Gary Nelson, who recruited Christian to come to Dominican when he was in high school, contacted Christian and offered him a second chance by transferring.
Athletically, Christian, who recently was sidelined by a wrist injury, has been a golf star at Dominican. Last May in his first appearance in the NCAA Division II West/South Central Regional in Pueblo, CO he shot a final round 69 to move up 17 spots and finish tied for 32nd place, the highest finish by a Dominican golfer. A month earlier he and teammate Matt Fry tied for team individual honors as the Penguins placed third in the Pacific West Conference tournament in Litchfield, AZ just before being named First Team All-PacWest.
But Christian’s highlight at Dominican was winning the CSUSM Fujikara Invitational at Shadowridge Country Club last February. He opened with a score of 66 and never gave up the lead in becoming the third Dominican golfer in school history to win an individual championship in a tournament.
Academically, Christian has thrived. He cites a Business Communication class with Dr. Thomas Cavanagh, a Leadership class with Dr. Denise Lucy, and an Entrepreneurship class with Dr. Wayne de Fremery for inspiring him. He also credits Courtney Budesa, director of internships and professional development, for helping him land an internship with Pebble Ventures LLC in San Rafael.
However, Christian’s experience during orientation for Dominican’s business school may have been a game changer. It was the first time he saw Dr. Christopher Leeds, professor of Management and Dominican Faculty Athletic Representative. Christian had heard that Dr. Leeds was demanding and challenging. He found Dr. Leeds to be engaging, helpful, and supportive.
“The conversations I’ve had with Dr. Leeds, whether it’s after class or at the Conlan Center at basketball games or in his office have been really formative in terms of just being confident in your professional expertise, knowledge of the industry, and understanding the things you don’t traditionally learn at a business school,” Christian says. “You learn about economics and marketing but there are a lot of things like personal finance and cost of living and adulting decisions that are part of an entrepreneurial life that you don’t really learn, and he’s taught me a lot of those.”
However, the one thing Christian taught himself – photography – could be best tool he has in his skill box. The father of a teammate in high school took some photos of the JSerra team and Christian was extremely impressed with the one he received as a gift at a senior awards banquet.
“It was a print of me and the ball in the middle of the air and it’s tracking toward the pin, and it was literally a moment frozen in time. Or as I like to say a photo is a moment committed to eternity,” Christian says. “I felt larger than life. I felt like I was a pro. I felt like time had stopped. It was the coolest feeling in the world. I wanted to do that. I want to try to make that.”
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Christian became very good at it, first with his phone and then after purchasing his own camera. One day, after snapping a stop action animated photo of a friend laying the ball up and in during a men’s basketball game in the Conlan Center, Christian posted that photo on his Instagram account which, at the time, had about 200 followers. Incredibly, the photo recorded more than 7,000 views, including one by Aaron Fitzner. He had seen Christian around the Conlan Center serving as a team manager for the Penguins’ women’s basketball team but thought Christian’s photography skills could be utilized by the whole athletics department. Fitzner hired him as an intern.
The next thing you know Christian was invited to go to a Warriors game and it changed his big picture plans. For Christmas, Christian’s parents gave him a framed photo of Tiger Woods winning his 15th Major that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. One of Christian’s dream scenarios is to have one day one of his photos become an S.I. cover.
It would be another once-in-a-lifetime experience upon graduating from Dominican and going to work for the PGA TOUR.
“To have this opportunity as my first job out of college is insane. It’s unbelievable,” he says, “I’m extremely blessed.”