March 23rd, 2012

Hyland's Heroes: Robin Schmidt

Paul Najjar

CSN Staff Writer


Hyland's Heroes: Robin Schmidt
photo from Robin Schmidt

Schmidt leading path for future field hockey stars

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland, called "Hyland's Heroes" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

Robin Schmidt developed a passion for sports in elementary school at Our Lady of Lourdes. The eldest of three, she grew up in the years just after Title IX was passed and flourished as a student athlete at Sacred Heart Academy where she played volleyball, basketball and field hockey. She spent her college years at St. Louis University and played field hockey for the Billikens in the early 1980’s.

Those formative years had a powerful impact on her as she moved into the coaching ranks and eventually in athletic administrative positions at St. Albert’s and with the CSAA as Director of Field Hockey.

“When I was growing up, you either made your team or you didn’t make your team,” remarked Schmidt. “But the organization was there and you could get involved in sports. You had the opportunity to play basketball, softball and volleyball. Now, the opportunities the girls have are tremendous.”

Schmidt and those from her era helped set the foundation for girls sports in the CSAA. The growth of girls sports in the last thirty years has been built upon those pioneers who wanted to advance opportunities for future generations. Count Schmidt among those pioneers.

“Every child now gets an opportunity to learn the game, love the game, grow with the game and decide if they want to pursue the game further.” she said. “I’ve always been an advocate for equal funding and staffing for our girls programs.”

Schmidt clearly understands the values and the virtues of team sports and she champions those causes every chance she gets.

“I coached at St. Albert and was the athletic director there as well, and I maybe had a few run-ins with some of the boys coaches,” she said with a chuckle. “I was and am definitely an advocate for girls sports and wanted the girls to have whatever the boys had regarding uniforms, field space and anything else they needed. When I look back at my playing career, the men’s sports had so much more than us. But at least we had the opportunity; prior generations to mine didn’t even have that.”

So she made the most of her gifts and went to work promoting girls sports at her parish school and the values that come with them: teamwork, dedication, camaraderie, fellowship.

“Just watching my own girls playing sports, the opportunities have far surpassed anything I could imagine,” she said. “My kids got me into coaching. My oldest wanted to play volleyball and I wanted to be there with her. Coaching your child is a special time. You get to teach them the game and have an impact on them and their development. You get to know their friends and their friends’ families in a different light.”

Schmidt started coaching in 1996 when her first daughter, Elizabeth, was in third grade. She coached volleyball, basketball and started the field hockey program when the CSAA brought it into the schools in 1998. She spoke with great affection about being coached by Bunny Daugherty, “I was a Bunny Daugherty product,” she proudly stated. She also mentioned that her freshmen field hockey coach at St. Louis, a Dutch native, had a profound effect on nurturing her sporting career as a coach and administrator.

Family and education come first in her household and in any sport she coached. Her husband Joe fully supports her coaching and leadership in these areas. They have three daughters Elizabeth, Emily and Mary Kate. All went to St. Albert’s and then to Sacred Heart Academy. Elizabeth graduated from Indiana University and played field hockey. Emily is in graduate school at Bellarmine University and played a year of soccer at Washington and Lee University and Mary Kate is a senior at SHA and will play soccer at Illinois Wesleyan.

As athletic director at St. Albert’s from 2000-2007, Schmidt wore many hats. She coached, she oversaw the programs of all sports and she still found time to assist with Sacred Heart’s field hockey program. Just like a Bunny Daugherty protégé. In addition to those jobs, for the past eight years she has been the Director of Field Hockey for the CSAA.

“Because of my coaching experience and having developed a rapport with Jim Frame and Beth Wychulis, I agreed to take on the field hockey coordinator position,” she said. “Field hockey has only been a part of the CSAA since 1998 and it has grown tremendously. It’s a sport about which I am very passionate and I want to help build it, expand it and do whatever we have to do to give kids the opportunity to try it.”

Schmidt understands her responsibility to help grow field hockey in the region and she embraces not only that role, but the chance to affect the formation of these young girls along the way.

“The CSAA is giving kids the opportunity to learn the game, develop friendships and represent their school,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to have fun and fellowship, to grow physically and spiritually. And though it can get competitive, that’s also a life lesson. Working hard to get better is an important value of team sport. You get out of it what you put into it.” 

 

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