What's the Score?

by Jeremy Troendle

It’s been nearly two decades since I last typed out one of these columns. In fact, many who read this may not even remember or know that I wrote a weekly sports column in my first years here at the newspaper as sports editor. But, due to a change of personnel and duties within the newspaper office, the column fell by the wayside, likely never to be penned again.
To be honest, there were a couple times in the past 15-plus years that I nearly broke out my former “What’s the Score?” column for moments that I felt were worthy of further notoriety or explanation, but ultimately I never felt moved enough to do so.
The most unfortunate news that steamrolled through Indian Nation Thursday morning, September 28 changed all of that perspective, as we learned of the untimely passing of longtime teacher and coach Dave Schoeberlein, and I simply had to share some thoughts. While that obviously unexpected news is devastating enough, perhaps even more devastating is the gaping hole his passing leaves behind in so many aspects for local high school student-athletes - let alone his family and friends.
It was obvious the far-reaching impact Mr./Coach Schoeberlein has had on those whose lives he came into contact with by the sheer number of attendees at his Sunday visitation and then Monday service all too fittingly held at the Waukon High School gym. Within those large numbers could be seen both current and former students and athletes he guided, and current and former staff members he worked with, as well as fellow coaches or other representatives from other area schools who may have toed the competition sideline against him but obviously also gained a great deal of respect for him. Many of those current or former students could be seen with a tear in their eye, but those I feel the worst for are the future students or athletes who will never get a chance to benefit from his guidance.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Coach Schoeberlein for a majority of my nearly quarter century here at the newspaper and I can honestly say that he was truly the most enjoyable coach to work with, for a combination of a variety of reasons. First and foremost from a work perspective, he could always be counted on for timely and very complete statistic and game reports without having to be prompted. And it didn’t matter what the sport, or what level of the sport - whether it was his first love of JV girls basketball, the lower high school levels of football, or even junior high track and field. I could always count on a neatly summarized report within a day or two - usually the next morning - following any activity he coached.
It was that dependability, the thoroughness with which he reported those stats and results, and doing it with the same fervor no matter what the level that was enough to convince me that Coach Schoeberlein was, indeed, a coach for all the right reasons - for the betterment of the kids. And then, I had kids of my own who had Mr./Coach Schoeberlein for both a teacher and a coach during their high school careers, and I learned so much more that convinced me that my first assumptions were correct.
Both my daughter and my son have recalled the lessons taught to them by Mr./Coach Schoeberlein, in the classroom, in the athletic realm, and ultimately, in life itself. Stories of the good deed toward others required by Coach Schoeberlein of his JV basketball girls on game day or the dynamic environment in the classroom that made learning fun and interesting. Both also shared numerous stories over their careers of one of the many commands he would yell in the heat of battle when trying to steal or deny a pass: “Use your long arm!”, meaning try using the arm closest to the opponent you were defending to try and tip away the ball, whether that be in basketball or football.
We’ve used that “Schoeberleinism” on many occasions within our own household, whether it be to simply reach for a napkin across the table or maybe to even find an easier or better way to accomplish something in life. But how ironic that someone who preached the “long arm” never seemed to ever quite have an arm of his own long enough to pat himself on the back - a true testament to how, even though his life’s work was to inspire or guide others, he would never take credit for any success for what they, or he, may ultimately achieve.
Further evidence of his humility came in the fact that he would have been assisting his 10th varsity head girls basketball coach this coming season in his nearly three-decade tenure here in Waukon as a junior varsity or varsity assistant coach. That’s at least nine opportunities where he could have easily assumed that coveted role himself since he arrived here in the mid-1980s, but whenever asked if he would step into any head coaching vacancy his reply was always the same to me: “No, sir. I want to stay where I can still teach the kids something, that’s where I think I can contribute the most to them.”
Additionally, I occasionally asked him what his career win-loss record was at certain milestones in his multi-decade tenure here. Again, his answer was always the same: “I don’t know. It’s not about me.”
So, how do you replace someone like that? Simple. You don’t. But you can certainly try and emulate him and all the inspirations, motivations and examples of caring and sharing he left behind and tried to instill in everyone under his guidance.
And let’s not forget the family he leaves behind. I think any of us who have had the opportunity to have Mr./Coach Schoeberlein in our lives owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to his wife, Janet, and his two daughters, Jill and Jenna, for sharing his time, enthusiasm, caring and inspiration over the years. How does one begin to repay such a debt?
One final lasting impression - at least that I have room to write about here - is how he hated to lose, but at the same time, always knew it offered the opportunity to learn from and move on.
Well, Coach, please work your magic and teach us all what we should learn from the loss we just suffered. And, Coach, you may just have to excuse us if it takes us a little longer to get over this one and move on!
Rest in Peace, Coach.

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