With the weather getting colder, it might be a good thing that the football season is over because even in the most frigid weather, Woodstock North High School’s head varsity football coach Jeff Schroeder wears shorts.
Born in Orland Park, he grew up in a blue collar family of which no one attended college. At age 7, Schroeder and his family moved to Crystal Lake where he played football and graduated from Crystal Lake Central High School.
Schroeder said he “knocked around” working various places and finally realized how much he missed the relational aspect of football, particularly his coaches and teammates.
“That discovery ignited a passion in me to get involved in education and coaching,” said Schroeder. After attending McHenry County College and graduating from Illinois State University, Schroeder landed his first job in 1996 as a physical education/health teacher and assistant football coach at Jacobs High School, Algonquin. In 2003, Schroeder secured his first head coaching position at Westmont High School, where he obtained a PE/health teaching position.
This is where the shorts come in.
Schroeder taught swimming in PE. Temperatures would be so hot and humid near the pool, he had no choice but to wear shorts. Schroeder said he got used to wearing shorts. Similar to Einstein who wore the same five suits, Schroeder liked to keep it simple by owning just five or six pairs of shorts himself.
In 2008, Schroeder came to WNHS as dean of students and head football coach. Coaches are ritualistic, which is why Schroeder also wears a towel around his neck at every game.
“I had a towel at one game and won. Now it’s routine, I have to have it with me. I’m quirky that way,” Schroeder said.
Wearing sandals at every practice is another ritual Schroeder follows. It’s a physical reminder to himself, to take a breath and enjoy the process.
“Only once, a player wearing cleats, stepped on my feet while wearing sandals. He was one of the biggest kids on the field,” he added.
On Friday nights, he rides his Honda Shadow – painted black for school colors – to home games.
A big movie buff, Schroeder takes lessons from “The Jungle Book” and applies them to his team. The team recites every day after practice and every pregame, “The wolf is only as strong as a pack, and a pack is only as strong as the wolf, stronger together than we are apart.”
A Chicago Bears fan, Schroeder saves watching the NFL for post season, but regularly unwinds by going to the movie theatre.
If a biography were to be written about the coach, he said he’d like Mark Wahlberg to play him, but he admitted he would have to hit the weights and get off the sweets before there would be any similarities.
Aside from coaching football, Schroeder’s dream job would be working for the C.I.A. or F.B.I., and he puts cage diving with great white sharks on the top of his bucket list.
Inspired by the obstacles some of his students have to overcome, Schroeder strives to make each day count in the lives of others.
“I always tell our players, as well as my two sons, that I think it’s important for you to leave something better than you found it. I really hope that I am doing the same in our community and in our program. That’s how I hope I’m remembered when I’m done at WNHS. “