Hiram College

This summer, some residents of the Stow, Ohio area might receive their meal deliveries and have no idea that their DoorDash driver has been in the local and national news recently. Travis Shrout ’24 doesn’t brag about the headlines he’s made since July or the constant phone calls and social media messages he’s received. “My summer has actually been pretty laid back,” he says. “Other than going on vacation, I haven’t really done too much.”

By “going on vacation,” Shrout is referring to a trip he and his family made to Topsail Beach, North Carolina in early July. During that trip, he rescued Ashley Batchelor and her son, Conner, who had been carried too far out into the ocean. Thad Unkefer, a family friend, happened to capture the event on his drone’s camera. The video shows how Shrout was in the right place at the right time. Not only was he within earshot of Batchelor’s cries for help, but as luck would have it, Shrout is a former lifeguard. In addition, he and his family hadn’t ever been to Topsail Beach before. They typically vacation elsewhere, but scheduling issues led them to this new spot this summer.

Now, back home in Ohio, he is fielding calls from reporters while also trying to prepare for the start of the fall semester at Hiram College. Shrout, an avid soccer player and enthusiast, intends to declare a major in sport management soon. His parents both work in professional sports or related fields, giving Shrout the opportunity to help them out at major athletic events behind the scenes. “I’d love to get in with a sports team and see where it takes me,” he says of his plans after college.

Shrout initially learned about Hiram from a longtime family friend and former soccer coach. After visiting the campus and attending an overnight event, he saw that Hiram would allow him to be “a student who plays soccer,” keeping the emphasis on academics but still giving him the time for sports.

During his first year at Hiram, Shrout found that his courses covered new territory that he hadn’t studied in high school. In his First-Year Urgent Questions course, Who & What is an “American,” he and his classmates debated several political and cultural issues affecting the country today. “I’d say that’s probably the best class I’ve ever taken in my life,” he says. “We just had actual conversations, which I feel was invaluable.”

In addition to expanding his academic interests, Shrout is grateful for the connections he’s made at Hiram. Last year, he and his fellow first-year soccer players bonded during an unusual athletic season, cut short due to the pandemic. Despite the challenges, the team developed a brotherly love that Shrout feels will last for years. “If you’re looking for a place where you’re not going to have to worry about making friends, because there is a friend for everyone, this is the place for you,” he says.

Before the summer’s over, however, Shrout will probably see his name in the headlines a few more times. With the story of the Topsail Beach rescue being covered by Fox News and Inside Edition, the event has become national news. “One by one, out of nowhere, we started getting messages,” he recalls. Since the articles and TV interviews began, Shrout has been contacted daily by friends, family and strangers: “There’s been a lot of random people that I’ve never met who have just found me on Facebook and messaged me to say, ‘I just had to look for you and see if I could find you. We’re proud of you, and thank you.’”

Even after watching the footage of the rescue, the event seems surreal to Shrout. “I’ve probably watched it about 200 times,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m still trying to convince myself that it happened. I don’t know what it is.” Regardless, he isn’t letting the spotlight distract him from the upcoming fall semester. He’s excited to see his friends, start his sport management classes, and get back out on the field. “I’m really looking forward to the soccer season,” he says.