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Story courtesy of MIZZOU magazine
MIzzou Athletics photo
Classes of 1988 and 1991
The life of a college athlete is all about repeatedly training, studying, practicing and preparing so that you’ll be ready for whatever you might encounter on game day. Kris Schmidt, BSW ’88, MSW ’91, found that this approach applied directly to her career after Mizzou softball — except her “game day” was when she was assigned to protect the lives of some of the most powerful people on Earth.
After setting school records for hits, batting, average and putouts; making three All-Big-Eight teams; and being named an All-American, Schmidt played semipro ball, coached at Mizzou and played for the U.S. national team. Eventually, she decided to represent her country in another way, as a member of the U.S. Secret Service. “The mission is what it sounds like,” Schmidt says. “You are there to ensure the health, safety and security of the protected. You constantly train, plan and prepare for game day, which is every time you are with the protectee, whether that be at the White House or traveling across the country or the world. It’s a coordinated team effort, working with your fellow agents, uniformed division officers, the military, and local and state law enforcement.”
Over 23 years, Schmidt protected presidents, vice presidents and foreign dignitaries from Tony Blair to Nelson Mandela. She’s worked all over the world and above it aboard Air Force One and Marine One. Throughout her career, she thought she was prepared for anything — except for what she felt during her first midnight shift at the White House. “I was standing at the top of the grand staircase right outside the private residence,” says Schmidt, who retired from the Secret Service in September 2017. “Looking at the presidential portraits in the historic building, thinking about how amazing it was to be there, standing in history — it was really cool. Then I told myself, ‘OK, OK. Back to reality. Time to focus on the job.’ ”