In Patrick Schneider’s basketball program, the Bellarmine players knew what to do if they needed a break.
They would pull on their jerseys.
For 30 years, the coach did not even need a jersey tow.
Schneider gave everything he had to his program, everything he thought his players deserved from a coach, everything that made his school and community proud.
On Wednesday, while speaking to his team one last time, Schneider told his players that the moment had come to pull on his jersey. It was time for Schneider to step aside, time to retire after 846 games and 534 wins, time to leave a San Jose program, he led to 14 section and six league championships.
“What I said to the guys in the classroom today is, ‘Guys, after 30 years, I’ve been going as hard as I can for as long as I can. I just have to pull on my shirt right now, ”Schneider said Wednesday night.
“It was definitely emotional in the classroom. I was just so moved that so many guys said they were so happy they could play on my last team.”
Schneider, 61, was as thoughtful and eloquent as ever as he went down in memory a few hours after the school’s news release announcing the coach had retired from basketball but would continue as a teacher in the Department of Religious Studies.
The Bells did not always win under Schneider, but they were always prepared. They played smart team ball, which was a pleasure to watch when they were at their best, which was far more often than not.
Schneider is the son of a coach, historian, tactician and romantic when it comes to the sport that has meant so much to his family. Schneider’s father, the late Bernie Schneider, graduated from Archbishop Riordan and USF and had a long running career as a coach for high school basketball in Marin County.
“One of the most beautiful things about the sport of basketball is how democratic it is,” Schneider said. “Football is so role definition and specific. Baseball, everyone has their turn at the plate. But there is just something free-flowing and beautiful about basketball. I appreciated everything about being in the sport and I will appreciate, I hope, to sit back and be a big fan and supporter of not only the Bellarmine team, but games in the area.
“I have a bucket list of campuses that I would like to see games. I remember watching a game in The Palestra (in Philadelphia) with my dad back in the 1980s. I think that was the last iconic college venue I’ve been to. “
Schneider’s own son, Noah, was on Bellarmine’s college team last season. Noah will be senior this fall.
“He’s happy on my behalf,” Schneider said. “He has focused on being a better player, like all the others returning. I want to be happy that I will be standing in the stands, just in a way enjoying things.”
Schneider leaves Bellarmine basketball as the West Catholic Athletic League’s most winning coach of all time, an honor his own high school coach, Bob Drucker, had while coaching in St. Louis. Ignatius from 1966 to 1986.
While reflecting on his own coaching career, Schneider recalled that his first league game in 1992 was at St. Louis. Ignatius.
Drucker was present that evening.
“Bob came by and said, ‘Hey, Patrick, just remember, it’s 10 guys in shorts and a tank top in the middle of winter,'” Schneider recalled. “Good advice.”
Before deciding to resign, Schneider was connected to a friend and old rival, the former St. Francis coach Steve Filios. Their teams have had epic fights over the years, but the men share a mutual respect for each other and the sport.
Schneider asked Filios how he knew it was time to move on.
“He said I asked myself every year, ‘Do I have the energy I need for the players?’
“When I reflected more, I do not,” Schneider added.
So next winter, for the first time in three decades, Bellarmine’s basketball sideline will have another coach at the helm.
“The thing for me that I imagine will be the hardest to look forward to,” Schneider said, “is the inner clock that says, ‘Time to go to the gym to work out. It’s November.’