Schoen retires after 20 years at South
Brian Smith, Sports Editor
After 20 seasons of leading the South Central girls’ basketball program to great heights, Randall Schoen won’t shout a play from the sideline come the 2019-20 season.
With 10 sectional titles to his credit, along with two regional titles (2003, 2006) and a Class 1A state runner-up in 2006, he is hanging up the whistle at South Central. All 10 sectional titles for the Lady Rebels’ program were won with Randall on the sideline.
Randall said the passing of his wife, Marsha, early last month was a factor in the decision to step aside.
‘It wasn’t something I planned on because I already had our summer schedule lined up,’ he said. ‘Losing Marsha like I did, it hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. They told us from day one this day was coming. I thought I’d be more ready for it, but it has taken a lot of drive out of me. I knew I wasn’t going to put all I had into the summer stuff, and that isn’t fair to the girls or the program.’
When Randall took the gig, he wasn’t the first choice of Mark Black, then athletic director who is now principal at South Central Junior-Senior High School. It was Randall’s son, Scott, who, at the time was a young assistant coach in the North Harrison boys’ program, eventually turned down the chance to coach the Lady Rebels. Scott now coaches the Silver Creek girls’ basketball program.
‘It worked out,’ Randall said.
Known to play one of the toughest schedules for a 1A program, Randall said it was never about wins and losses (he had 284 victories). It was more about teaching and preparing for the tournament.
‘I really feel like every girl that has come through has been a winner for us,’ he said. ‘I believe many have learned a lot about adversity. I tell them you have a job to do on the court so you have to do it. Once you get out of school, you are going to get a job and, if you don’t do it, they’ll fire you. They don’t care what your mom says; they are still going to fire you. It’s the same with basketball. It’s a life lesson.’
Playing a tough schedule built the Lady Rebels to the postseason, where they were often at season’s peak.
‘I’ll miss the competition. I love the competition,’ Randall said. ‘I always told the girls that I love sectional. We will work all year for sectional time. When it rolled around, we were always ready to give it the best shot we could.’
Teaching life lessons came early for Randall. Coaching junior high boys, he thought a two-win season was rock-bottom for a coach. But, years later, a player on that team thanked him for the lessons learned not only in basketball, but life.
‘I try to keep that in perspective, that it’s not all about winning a basketball game,’ Randall said. ‘But, we still wanted to win.’
The coaching circle is something Randall mentioned as being a fond memory. There were battles with former 1A coaches Terry Rademacher at Borden and Terry White at New Washington. White, donning a pony tail, visited Randall at Marsha’s funeral and handed him one last line-up card.
‘I consider those guys good friends,’ Randall said. ‘The coaches I really admired are Brian Guernsey, who stayed at Henryville for 30 years through the good and bad. Bill Paro at Rock Creek, you knew he cared about the program and his kids even knowing they weren’t going to win much. Mike Uhl is the same at Corydon. He really cares about his program and his kids if they are going through really good times or not. There are some coaches who chase talent. They say they love the kids and talent, but, when the talent is gone, the love is gone.’
Many Lady Rebels’ supporters will point to postseason championships and multiple Southern Athletic Conference titles as mantle pieces for Randall. The 2005-06 season saw the Lady Rebels reach the state final by defeating Attica in the semi-state. A loss to Lafayette Central Catholic in the championship left South Central as runners-up with a 23-6 record. For Randall, his personal mantel pieces revolve around family.
‘The state run is right up there, but what I enjoyed most was (son) Chad (Schoen) helping coach a couple years. Scott helping a couple years. (Daughter) Brittany (Ort) played under me for four years, and she was on the bench the last several years with me,’ Randall said. ‘That’s what made it more special for me, spending more time with them.’
This past season, when Marsha was ill, she missed games, which was rare.
‘I always knew I could look down the sideline and Marsha would be sitting right there,’ he said. ‘I missed it.’
Focus has changed for Randall.
‘When it’s all said and done, I hope that I’m not remembered for the sectionals or games won, but the impact on kids in our community,’ Randall said. ‘Right now, my focus isn’t on winning another game. I need to make sure I have myself right with God. I want to be where Marsha is at one day. That’s the big picture.’
On the court, Randall said he took pride in speaking with officials about the character of the Lady Rebels.
‘Our girls are respectful,’ he said. ‘They never talk back. They never question things … I wasn’t one to sit there and complain about every call. That gets you more respect.’
Schoen also gave credit to the community for establishing a basketball program well known throughout the state. He credits stability within the program. Many of the feeder system coaches put in multiple years of service.
‘I’ve had the same junior high coaches for 18, 19 years,’ Randall said. ‘(Junior varsity coach) Cortnai (Boone) has been with me for 11 years, and Brittany for four. Our fifth and sixth grade has had a little change but most of the time it stayed the same. I think that means a lot. They understood what we were trying to do at the high school level. They knew what we wanted to accomplish.’
Boone and Ort resigned their positions as well.
‘I hate to see it, but you have to have loyalty in the ranks,’ Randall said.
Scott has asked Randall to assist at Silver Creek but now isn’t the time.
‘I’m no where close to being ready to do that,’ Randall said. ‘Maybe down the road that’s something I could do. This whole thing has been as hard on Brittany as it has on me. One day, I think she will get back into it. If she does, somebody is going to get a really nice coach. I could see myself going and helping her out.’
The loyalty has created a small but fruitful coaching tree. Former assistants Scott Schoen and Brad Burden have gone on to coach at Silver Creek (nine seasons) and Providence (11 season), respectively.
Successes in Randall’s 284-209 career record were based on talent.
‘I always felt like we were really blessed at South Central to have the talent come through here,’ he said. ‘That’s on account for the wins I had more than anything. I always told people that in 2006 we went to the state finals and four years later we won five games. It wasn’t because I was a great coach then and couldn’t coach now; it was the talent level was there. No matter the talent level, we always had really good kids.’
This past season, South Central put together a 4-18 record after winning three consecutive sectionals.
‘I’m leaving the program when it’s probably considered being down, but it’s been down before,’ Randall said. ‘We were able to bounce back and win three more sectionals after our five-win season (in 2012). If you keep stability, you can ride out the bad times. I call them bad times, but that’s just a record thing. I really feel like every girl that has come through has been a winner for us.’