Before he was a punter for USF and even before he was one at Santa Barbara City College in California, Trent Schneider remembers a five-day construction job in the Australian heat.
“We were pulling the roof off a house and it was 105-degree heat for five days straight,” Schneider said. “There was a big storm coming, so every day we would be out there in the heat for eight hours straight trying to get this roof completed because we knew they needed to have the roof on.”
For the Australian native, that mentality to persevere through tough times has helped him develop a work ethic to chase his dream.
“If you can do that, a couple hours out on the field isn’t a big deal,” he said. “When it gets hard, that’s what I think of.”
Schneider’s journey to USF has spanned roughly more than 9,000 miles. He left his own construction company behind when he came to the U.S.
He was part of Prokick Australia, an organization dedicated to helping Australian student-athletes find their way to college and professional football by kicking.
The program has produced several professional and college punters including Jordan Berry, who punts for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was the 2017 Ray Guy award winner — which is presented annually to college football’s most outstanding punter — and Michael Dickson, who now punts for the Seattle Seahawks.
“As a kid, I always wanted to do sports at a high level,” Schneider said. “In Australia we don’t have college sports. So once you hit 16 and you haven’t done anything at the state or international level you kind of have to give up on your dream, face reality and get a job.”
For Schneider, finding a spot as a college punter was his way to live out his childhood dream, but it didn’t come without a cost.
He went from working for his own construction company to a normal college student quickly.
“It seems like a huge risk,” Schneider said. “Not making the money each week is different. You can’t go out to fancy restaurants or things like that. Or treat yourself to whatever you want, but the risk wasn’t actually as big as someone might think.”
According to Schneider, if his career as a college punter didn’t work out, he’d be able to pick up a job the day he landed back in Australia.
“This has put my life on pause for a few years,” he said. “I’ve got enough people I can work for, that the day I land, I’d have a job.”
If Schneider wasn’t already unique enough, he’s the oldest player on the team. At 28 years old, Schneider is almost a decade older than some of his teammates at USF.
“I try to not act my age. I try to fit in,” Schneider said. “I try to make my age not a factor if that makes sense. I do get called ‘grandpa.’”
Despite the difference, Schneider said his age doesn’t affect the way coaches treat him.
“Coaches are coaches,” he said. “I’m probably older than half the GAs here, but that doesn’t seem to affect the way they talk to me.”
Schneider isn’t the only Australian at USF. He actually grew up twenty minutes away from USF men’s soccer goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares. The two went to rival high schools where their soccer teams would play against each other.
Because of their age difference, however, Schneider and Devenish-Meares never faced one another.
One construction company and two schools later, Schneider is a successful college punter — in USF’s most recent game against ECU, Schneider tied a school record with a 72-yard punt. But even chasing his dream isn’t the most important thing for him.
“You learn a lot about yourself doing this, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “Anything’s possible. Going back to school was a big deal to me because I hadn’t done it for so long…You can do anything basically.”