Like Father, Like Son
In Sooner lore, it’s known simply as “The Kick.” With just three seconds left in a dramatic 1977 game against Ohio State University, Uwe von Schamann kicked a 41-yard field goal to bump OU to a 29-28 lead over the Buckeyes. That legendary kick is cemented in college sports legend, and now Uwe’s son, Duke, stands to keep the von Schamann name in sports news for another generation.
Duke, a 2009 graduate of Edmond Santa Fe High School, started his first semester at Texas Tech University on an athletic scholarship in August. While his father’s path led Uwe to football stardom, Duke hopes to find similar success in baseball. “I played pretty much everything from soccer to basketball until my freshman year of high school,” Duke says, “Then I had to pick one. I knew my future was in baseball.”
The third baseman and pitcher hopes playing for Tech will lead to a career in the Big Leagues, but if that doesn’t work out, he says he wants to be a high school science teacher.
“You don’t find that very often,” Uwe says. “Kids often focus on careers where they have the opportunity to make a lot of money, but he wants to teach,” Uwe says.
It seems Duke’s always had a clear head about priorities, even as a 6-year-old playing Little League soccer. His dad, who coached Duke’s team for eight seasons, once admitted to his son that he didn’t think Duke’s team would be very good that season. In reply, Duke reminded his dad, “Just a game.”
“Early on, when he was four, I could tell he was going to be an incredible athlete,” Uwe says. “I remember the first time (Duke) put on a football uniform, he was a quarterback. I was really proud. Now, watching him play D-1 in one of the best conferences in the world, I’m extremely proud of him.”
Uwe says he will be proud of his son whether Duke’s future holds pro sports or not. “I hope he gets the opportunity to go to the next level and play professional baseball, but I will be very proud of him if that doesn’t work out. I know he will be a great teacher and a good coach,” he says.
“I’m just happy for him to have that opportunity to go to a great university and also a great baseball program,” Uwe says. “First of all, I want him to enjoy his college experience. A lot of kids want to hurry and get out, but it’s the only time in their life that they can be poor and it’s okay. I don’t want him to go in there with blinders on, but experience everything. Get to know people from other parts of the country and other parts of the world because that’s what college is about, to meet people from different backgrounds and to appreciate different cultures as well.”
Uwe was born in Germany and moved to the United States with his mother at age 16. Neither of them spoke much English, but he quickly learned the language as a sophomore in a Fort Worth, Texas, high school. He got a scholarship to OU and started there in 1975, kicking for Barry Switzer. “Playing under Switzer was probably the best situation for me because he was a player’s coach,” Uwe says. “He was a lot of fun to play for.”
Uwe wants his son to focus on his studies because, although Duke may have Big League talent now, the future is uncertain and getting a college degree is a wise decision. “I consider my greatest achievement to be getting my degree from OU, that’s including playing in two Super Bowls.” After kicking for OU, Uwe played five seasons with the Miami Dolphins. “I went back to school after pro football and between seasons and finished my degree. Most of my teammates didn’t and they’re really struggling.”
Uwe received a degree in journalism, but he hasn’t used those specific skills much. For eight years, Uwe has been director of development at J.D. McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities. “It’s the only hospital of its kind in Oklahoma and we’ve been in Norman for 60 years,” he says. The center is about to break ground on a $5 million camp for special needs kids, a project Uwe is especially excited about.
While Duke settles into college life, Uwe is starting fatherhood all over again. His son, Chase, is 11 months old. His daughter, Sabine, 35, lives in Germany. Even with his job at J.D. McCarty and a new baby in the house, Uwe makes time for football, teaching kicking lessons.