Sarah took her own life,’ the family said two days after her passing. ‘Balancing athletics, academics and the demands of everyday life overwhelmed her in a single, desperate moment. Like you, we are shocked and grief stricken while holding on tightly to all that Sarah was.’
‘Sarah regarded herself as a champion for all women, as did the many family members, friends, students and athletes who surrounded her,’ the Shulzes added.
The 21-year-old’s ‘legacy of compassion’ lives on in those who were recipients of her organs, which the family donated on Good Friday. Her relatives also plan to launch a foundation ‘that will be established to continue to support the causes most important to Sarah.’
Shulze’s parents hope her suicide helps others to better understand the fragility of mental health.
The star runner, originally from Oak Park, California, was a junior at Wisconsin. Her devotion to her sport, which the family says began on her high school track and cross-country teams, resulted in an athletic scholarship at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Shulze was in her third season with the Badgers, competing in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. She earned academic all-Big Ten honors in 2020 and 2021 for cross country and in 2021 for track.
‘Sarah was a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, teammate and Badger student-athlete,’ Wisconsin officials said in a statement.
‘We extend our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to Sarah’s family, friends and Badger teammates during this extraordinarily difficult time. Our primary focus is the support of the Shulze family and our student-athletes.’
Shulze was also a member of the Student Athlete Council at UW Madison.
Shulze had served as an intern at the Wisconsin legislature and volunteered as a poll worker during the 2020 presidential election.
‘Above all other things, Sarah was a power for good in the world,’ her loved ones said. ‘Her deep compassion was evident in her devotion to her sisters Abbey and Ella, the love her parents felt from her every single day, and the extra care she took in moments shared with her grandparents and cousins.’
Shulze will be honored with a celebration of her life in Wisconsin on Sunday, April 24, and in her home state of California on May 2.
Her family welcomes all those who knew Shulze to share ‘specials memories’ and celebrate her ‘incredible life’ at the services.
Those who knew the young woman have already posted tributes detailing how she excelled in both sports and life.
‘The world is a better place for Sarah having been part of it,’ Tim Chevalier, the athletic director at her former high school, told VC Star. ‘While her passing has been difficult to process, I take hope that her stories will continue to be told and her positive impact on others will be remembered.’
He added: ‘In the classroom, Sarah was a top-notch student. On the track, Sarah was a fierce competitor who absolutely electric and continually pushed herself to be great. Off the track, Sarah was a gentle and kind soul, a loving daughter, sister, friend and human who will be dearly missed by those who knew her and loved her.’
Her high school coach, Steve White, shared how Shulze demonstrated ‘mental toughness’ in addition to her standout athletic abilities.
‘She has that unique gift to go out there and punish herself,’ said White. ‘Knowing what it’s going to take to meet the goals she would set. It goes to her mental toughness.’