METAMORA — A love for teaching and coaching keeps Steve Schroeder going strong.
The Metamora wrestling coach recently recorded his 500th dual victory in a career that began at El Paso High School 39 years ago.
Schroeder was honored with a plaque commemorating the milestone Saturday, just before the finals of the annual Metamora Holiday Tournament.
“It’s great,” the 2009 inductee into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Hall of Fame said of the honor. “You have to enjoy what you're doing, and I enjoy what I'm doing.”
Metamora used its depth to finish second to four-time champion Byron in Saturday's 16-team tournament, with a pair of seconds (Vinny Querciagrossa and Lee Cameron) and eight fourth-place finishes.
Schroeder began at El Paso in 1979, where he coached nine seasons and posted a dual record of 111-73-1.
At El Paso, he coached four state medalists, including a pair of state champions (Matt Haas in 1980 and Joe Franzen in 1982, both at 112 pounds).
Since coming to Metamora, Schroeder has helped build a consistent winner. The Redbirds are 392-259 in his 30 seasons and 8-2 this year.
He has coached four state medalists, led by a pair of second-place finishes from Kenny Robertson in 2001 and 2002 (both at 160) and a runner-up finish from Scott Cardin in 1998 (at 215). Other Redbirds medalists are Brad Wood in 1991 (sixth at 189) and Nick McClone in 2004 (fourth at 171).
“People have said to me, ‘You have the secret of longevity,’ ” said Schroeder, who retired from teaching history in 2011. “I don't even know what that is. I just keep going, keep coming back, keep having fun. There's tremendous support system here. I just try to stay consistent and maintain what you've got and it's worked well."
Metamora athletics director Jared Hart has witnessed first-hand Schroeder’s commitment to the sport and the student athletes.
“His strongest quality is that he maintains a steady demeanor around the athletes and his coaching staff, even in difficult and emotional situations,” Hart said. “I think that the athletes respond with the same effect by maintaining a steady approach even though they might be facing difficult situations on the mat or in life.”
Notre Dame coach Kevin Burk has been around for all of Schroeder’s coaching career. And fellow 39-year coach praised the efforts of his colleague and friend.
“He runs such a quality program, year in and year out,” Burk said. “His kids are disciplined, have nice technique. They’re just always very solid. Anybody can coach, but he coaches his kids to do things the right way and they’re good citizens.”
Metamora senior Chris Leanos said he’s thrilled to be learning from a coach with so many wins.
“He's a great coach and he really puts all his heart into it,” said Leanos, who finished fourth Saturday at 182 pounds. “He's more than a coach. He's a friend, and he's there for us outside wrestling, and that all impacts how the team functions. That's probably why he's had so much success. He really know his wrestling.”
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