Jareb Stallbaumer: A Contender for Life
May 6, 2011
The name Jareb, when translated literally means, “He will contend”. For Kansas track and field senior Jareb Stallbaumer, his first name could not be more fitting.
“I am a walk-on here from start to finish,” Stallbaumer says. “At the end of high school, coaches (from other schools) would call and ask what my plans were and if I was interested in going to school there, and I always told them, ‘No I want to go to KU for Pharmacy and I want to walk onto the track team there’. A lot of them told me that it would never happen.”
But a few coaches’ negative words did not come close to putting an end to Stallbaumer’s hopes and dreams.
“What they said really just added fuel to the fire. Whenever anybody tells me I can’t do something, I feel like I have to go do it,” he said. “But I knew I was going to go in and talk to the track coach and do everything that I could to be able to be on the team and wear the KU uniform.”
For the Wetmore, Kan., native, coming to Lawrence for college was always a dream he held close to his heart.
“For me, I have been the biggest Jayhawk fan my whole entire life,” Stallbaumer said. “From as early as I can remember, I was rooting for those basketball teams that had Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn on them and every game they played was life and death for me. So when it came time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I saw that KU had a good pharmacy school, which is what I wanted to study, and I was sold.”
While a promising career was on the horizon for the six-foot horizontal jumper, something else unbeknownst to him was in the works his freshman year.
“I sent a girl (named Heather Bradley) a message saying, ‘Hey I know you are on the track team at KU and I am really interested in being a walk-on’. Her cousin was in my high school class and she ran track here her freshman year,” Stallbaumer said.
“From there, we just kept on talking and that summer we started dating. Fast forward three years later and we are married.”
While a romance was blooming for Stallbaumer and his future wife, something else was taking flight for the walk-on from Wetmore; a promising track and field career, which included three top-five finishes his first season and six top-10s during his first outdoor season (2008) in Lawrence.
As the years and seasons passed, the jumper had to learn the art of being extremely disciplined as he juggled the responsibilities of being a Division I athlete and a pre-pharmacy major.
“(In) The last two years I can probably count the number of times I have been able to practice with the team on just two hands,” Stallbaumer said. “Sometimes I will have to practice at 5:30 in the morning doing run-ups and pop-ups and soon as I am done with that, go shower and be upstairs (in the Wagnon Student Athlete Center) until I am in class from 1-4 p.m. and then sometimes go to work from 5-10 at night.”
With a schedule as demanding as that, it is no wonder the walk-on athlete puts a high priority on setting goals he wants to achieve.
“I am a huge goal setter in everything I do,” he said. “Whether it be in school or track, I have a number of things I want to accomplish.”
Even though the senior has not had much time to practice with his fellow Jayhawk teammates, he has still been able to make a name for himself in the program. Stallbaumer jumped in seven different meets for KU indoor track and field during his sophomore season and he finished with a first-place finish at the Arkansas Final Qualifier during the indoor portion of his junior year.
“The memories I have had over the last four years and the people I have met is something I will remember for the rest of my life,” Stallbaumer said. “Just being able to wear the Kansas uniform and walk the same halls as some of the great athletes who have come through this program have been tremendous honors.”
Even though Stallbaumer’s legacy in the program might be out on the track, he will leave a legitimate mark on his work in the classroom as well. The part-time pharmacy technician at Hy-Vee received the academic achievement award for posting the highest cumulative GPA of all upperclassmen on the track and field team during his sophomore season and was named to the Big 12 All-Academic team with a 4.0 GPA his junior year.
“It’s been incredibly hard,” said Stallbaumer of the constant juggling of his academic and athletic schedules. “Luckily though, I have had both my parents and my wife by my side and they have been just a huge support system for me in terms of keeping me going.”
That schedule recently got somewhat busier as Stallbaumer added a second job at St. Luke’s EastHospital in Lee’s Summit to go along with his pharmacy gig.
“I think this past month has been the hardest of my life,” he said. “I have been under a lot of stress as I finish up my second year of pharmacy school this year and I think both my parents and my wife can attest to that.”
Stress has become a way of life for this student-athlete, still the 22-year old feels he has a lot more left to accomplish in the final few hectic weeks of his collegiate career and academic semester.
“In school, maintaining a 4.0 has always been my goal; from grade school on I have been able to do that,” the four year walk-on said. “I also have some track goals I set that have not yet been accomplished and I still have two meets left to do it. I have had three or four meets in a row now where I have had big jumps and I am feeling good this week, so if I can get that jump in this weekend, I think I will relax and be able to do it over and over again.”
Whether Stallbaumer ends up accomplishing the lofty career goals he set for himself during his final two competitions remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. As he prepares to trade in his Crimson and Blue cleats for a white lab coat, the skinny kid from Wetmore knows the lessons he’s learned out on the track will go a long way in helping him in the hospital.
“I can handle anything that comes my way,” he said. “Being a student-athlete has required me to develop a certain amount of focus and dedication, which will be huge for me when I am in a hospital and someone else’s life is depending on me to do things right.”
That outlook has turned Jareb Stallbaumer into a legitimate contender both in the pit and at the lab. For those around him, the success he has seen in his young life thus far really comes as no surprise, because his name simply says it all.