With a resume that speaks volumes, Roger Schroder is undeniably worthy of his recent induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
- He was a guard on the 1954 Milan state championship team.
- At Franklin College, he played basketball — and lettered in two other sports — before graduating in 1958.
- For 31 years, he was a teacher and basketball coach in the Indianapolis Public Schools system, including 22 as a varsity head coach with 258 wins and three sectional titles.
In light of that legacy, it’s easy to see why Schroder, 78, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in March as part of the class of 2015.
But there is still something odd about the timing.
Traditionally, induction comes long after the individual has retired from competition. But Schroder, who turns 79 next week, has not retired from competition.
Nor does he have immediate plans to.
A multisport standout at Milan and Franklin College, Schroder remains a competitive athlete. And a busy one.
In the spring and summer months, he plays in multiple senior softball leagues, including a travel team in Indianapolis and another in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A longtime Indianapolis resident, Schroder’s travel teams are the 75-year-old-and-up Indy Crowns in Indianapolis and the 80-and-up Pro Healthy 80s in Milwaukee. He travels the country playing in tournaments with both teams, in addition to the couple of nights a week he plays with local teams in Indianapolis.
Perhaps not another “Milan Miracle” that he’s still going strong at 78 (soon to be 79), but Schroder does attribute his life-long athletics career to the fact he’s never had a desire to stop — and his body has cheerfully come along for the ride.
“I’m fortunate that my legs are still good, and I can run,” said Schroder, a utility infielder who also occasionally gives a lift to less mobile teammates. “They have courtesy runners for guys that have had knee replacements, and they’re just super-duper slow.
“You’re allowed to go in and run for them, so I still do that.”
Although basketball was, and is, a passion for Schroder, softball is an extension of what he regards as his best participation sport: baseball.
A native of Pierceville, about two miles outside Milan, Schroder was a standout second baseman for the Indians’ varsity baseball team and was a backup guard his junior and senior seasons on the basketball team. Milan reached the Final Four in 1953 and achieved immortality in 1954 with its 32-30 last-second win against Muncie Central in the championship final.
Determined to continue his athletics career in college, Schroder entertained overtures from Purdue and was ready to enroll there — along with Milan teammate Gene White, the Indians’ starting center — but had a change of heart at the last minute.
So did White.
Not awed or swayed by the big stage of big college, both men decided that their best opportunity to play — and play a lot — was on a smaller stage at a smaller college, which wound up being Franklin College.
For Schroder and White, their decision to attend Franklin would not only pay dividends the rest of their lives, it would extend a student-athlete kinship they enjoyed from the beginning of their school days to the end.
Both men were from Pierceville, as were Milan teammates Bobby Plump and Glenn Butte, and have literally been lifelong friends.
“We lived in the same little town. We played ball and been in the same classes and everything. We went to school together for 16 years,” said White, who would eventually settle in Franklin coach and teach at both Franklin College and Franklin Community High School — a destiny that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened had he and Schroder stuck with their initial college plans.
Sports, fortunately, got in the way.
“We thought we could play sports here (at Franklin), even though the coach at Purdue told us a little differently,” White said. “We kind of felt like our best possibilities to play ball were at Franklin. We lived in an age when you just wanted to play ball.
“You didn’t care about other things.”
Schroder, who would continue to be White’s baseball and basketball teammate for four years at Franklin, felt the same way. He began having second thoughts about attending Purdue when, heeding the council of his beloved high school basketball coach, he decided his best chance to play all the sports he wanted was at Franklin College.
“I already had my room assignment and was going to Purdue and study engineering,” Schroder said. “I thought to myself, maybe if I went to Franklin I could participate in athletics, in baseball and possibly basketball. Our high school coach, Marvin Wood, a great coach and a great man, was an influence on me because I was going to try to do the things that he had done. Of course, it would be pretty difficult to match his record. That was not my objective.
“It (Franklin) just gave me a chance to compete. I’ve always like competing. I’m still doing it in a team situation. So I decided to go Franklin.”
Some 56 years later, he has zero regrets.
Immediately after graduation, he landed the first of several teaching and coaching opportunities with IPS — first at Howe as an assistant coach and eventually at Marshall and Broad Ripple as a head coach.
Schroder coached Marshall for 19 seasons and led Broad Ripple for three. His Hall of Fame induction is an encapsulation — and celebration — of his entire basketball career, that of an accomplished high school and college player and a distinguished head coach.
“Over the years, people have spoken for me. I have never asked anyone to do that,” Schroder said of the efforts of those who lobbied for his induction. “I had kind of hoped (it would happen), but there are so many deserving people. I kind of had to get used to it, to the idea that it actually happened. I appreciate (the Hall of Fame Committee) for selecting me. I understand it’s a difficult choice, a difficult selection.
“There are so many people who belong in the Hall of Fame.”
And now Schroder — still very much the athlete and competitor — is one of those people in the Hall.
He’s not sure it would have happened had he not veered from his original college path — a decision that paid off in far more meaningful way than Hall of Fame induction.
“I’ve thought from time to time about what if that hadn’t developed and I’d had gone to Purdue,” he said. “Who knows what might have happened, but I thoroughly love Franklin College. It was just great for me. I guess the main thing about going to Franklin was that’s where I met my wife, Sue. If for no other reason, that would have been a good reason to be there.
“We’re approaching 57 years of marriage, and I still love her.”
Name: Roger Schroder
Occupation: Retired varsity basketball coach and teacher
High school: Milan (1954); was a guard on the Indians’ 1954 boys state championship basketball team; also played baseball and ran track.
College: Franklin (1958); played baseball and basketball for three seasons; also competed in track.
Post-college: Taught and coached basketball for 31 years in the Indianapolis Public Schools system; was head coach at Marshall for 19 years and was head coach a Broad Ripple for three years; won a combined 258 games and three sectional championships
Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame: Is part of the 2015 induction class, along with former Greenwood star John Mark Bass, the state’s third Mr. Basketball, and former Edinburgh star Bill Depp, who has the Johnson County record for highest career scoring average (25.7 points per game)