Summer 2024

Sam Houston's Rome Shubert to play home finale exactly 6 years after surviving school shooting

May 18 will always be significant for Rome Shubert.

On that day in 2018, Shubert was a sophomore in first-period art class at Santa Fe High School (Texas) when he heard what he thought was fireworks or a senior prank. But when he turned, he saw it was a shooter.

He flipped his table to hide behind it, and when he and his classmates saw a chance, they dashed out the back and over a wall to safety.

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Once outside, a classmate approached him about his once-white shirt.

“From my shoulders down to my stomach was red,” Shubert told the Houston Chronicle last week. He had been shot in the back of his head, and the bullet exited from the side of his neck. Miraculously, neither his spine nor any major arteries were damaged.


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“When it was happening I was praying, ‘Please, please, please get me out of this,’” said Shubert, the oldest of three siblings. “When I was in the ambulance afterward I was just saying, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.'”

Shubert’s mother, Sheri, is astounded by God’s grace when she thinks back to that time.

“Rome is the strongest person I know,” she told the Houston Chronicle. “Knowing my son was in that room and what he heard in there and what happened to him, it’s still hard. … We’re thankful God spared him.”

Shubert’s physical healing has paled in comparison to the emotional healing he’s had to do since that horrific day that left 10 dead and 13 others injured.

“It’s tough, but you’ve got to stay the course,” Shubert said. “You have to find people who you can lean on at any given moment because if you try to handle it all by yourself, you’re going to fail miserably.

“I tried to do it by myself for a little bit and just silence it and put it away, but you’ve got to talk about it and you’ve got to keep pushing forward. If you get stuck in that moment, it’s all going to come crashing down on you so fast and so hard that you’re not going to be able to deal with it.”

In the summer of 2020, one of the ways Shubert sought to memorialize that fateful day and honor his fallen friends was by getting a tattoo. He had the words “Santa Fe Strong” tattooed on his left bicep with “5-18-18″ tattooed beneath it, all surrounded by 10 crosses.

Shubert was a pitcher on the Santa Fe baseball team in 2018, and in an effort to galvanize a distraught community, the team decided to play its playoff game the night following the tragedy. Shubert was there in uniform that night, with a bandage behind his left ear, and Santa Fe won the game.

“With that second chance, I felt God was trying to push me in a different direction,” Shubert said, “to do more than just play baseball. To be a brother to others and just help people — be more than just a guy who’s on the baseball team.”

Shubert has loved baseball since he was a kid, and he’s good at it too. He had already committed to the University of Houston but wondered shortly after the shooting whether his baseball days were over. His question was answered with a resounding “no.”

Shubert not only returned to the diamond but continued to excel. However, the COVID pandemic during his senior year disrupted his plan to enroll at Houston, and he began his college baseball career at Wharton Community College. Shubert transferred to Sam Houston State prior to the 2023 season, pursuing a degree in construction management and recording a 2-2 record in two seasons across 37 appearances as a reliever.

Before each outing, he always remembers to look down at his “Santa Fe Strong” tattoo and remember those who lost their lives. As the years have gone on, May 18 is still a very difficult, emotional day for Shubert, his family and the Santa Fe community.

Each year, teams across the country honor their seniors at their final homes games. This year Shubert’s senior year the Bearkats’ Senior Day happens to fall on May 18. In all likelihood, it will be Shubert’s last home game of the last baseball season of his life.

“A friend and I were talking,” Sheri said, “and she said this is God’s way of saying to have a new memory to be happy on that day. Not to replace the memory of that horrible event, but let’s focus on a good memory for that day.”

Shubert agrees.

“This is God saying, ‘You don’t always need to remember this day for that tragedy,'” he said. “‘You can now remember it for accomplishing something major in your life.'”

Shubert’s teammates and coaches praise his positive impact to the team both on and off the field.

“He looks around, sees something and goes and does it for us,” Sam Houston State coach Jay Sirianni told the Houston Chronicle. “He just has a true appreciation of what he’s getting to do.”

Fellow Bearkats pitcher Marshall Wales echoed his coach’s sentiments. “Rome embodies toughness,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “You can see it in his upbringing and the way he’s handled what happened. He loves his teammates and holds you accountable — he’s just the epitome of a great teammate.”

Sam Houston holds a 30-22 record entering its final three-game homestand against Jacksonville State (18-31), with the final tilt coming on Saturday, May 18. The postseason is still to come for Sam Houston State, first in Ruston, Louisiana, for the Conference USA Tournament (May 22-26) and then hopefully beyond.

But for Shubert, if he gets to take the mound on Saturday, and he glances for a final time at his “Santa Fe Strong” tattoo, he can smile and know that his Heavenly Father is in the business of redeeming broken things.

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