Leaving a legacy

The Schoenwetters’ coach football through generations

Skylar Kreske, co-sports editor

With a combined 133 wins, the Schoenwetters, father and son, have the numbers to back up their coaching success at South. But not all success can be measured numerically.

Bob and David Schoenwetter, former and current football coach, most value the ability they have to impact kids’ lives through educating and coaching.

The Schoenwetter legacy runs deep in South history, beginning with Robert. Growing up, Robert said the people he admired most had been his teachers and coaches. They made differences in his life, and he wanted to do the same one day.

“Hearing I was interviewing for teaching and coaching positions, a fraternity brother encouraged me to apply at this new high school in Glenview,” Robert said. “I took his advice, drove to Glenview, and interviewed at South. As we say in Social Studies, ‘And the rest is history.’”

Bob taught at South from 1966 to 2003 and coached from 1996 to 2006, during which time he built a foundation for success, and, according to friend and colleague John Klasen, Bob also made that positive impact on others.

“Bob is a terrific coach and educator,” Klasen said. “He was always very approachable and extremely dedicated to his players. He put the needs of the team in front of any individual accomplishments. He was the coach you loved to play for because his players always knew he had their back.”

And it was this example that Bob set for his son to follow. While Bob was overseeing drills and running plays, David was the ball boy, growing up immersed in the school.

“I grew up coming to GBS all the time, I was someone who lived and died GBS football even as a little kid,” David said. “That was a big part of my life, being a part of it.”

Bob coached David throughout his high school football career and the two speak fondly of those years. While David worried other kids would think he was getting special treatment for being the coach’s son, Bob worked him the hardest out of all, making sure he earned his place on that field.

“Coaching David was easy for me,” Robert said. “Fortunately, he was a very good quarterback and a strong team leader. He was elected as a co-captain his senior year and was named All Conference.”

As David’s high school years at South concluded, so did his dad’s coaching career.

“His last season in 1993 was my 18th and last season as head varsity football coach,” Robert said. “It was the perfect time to retire—we had just finished an improbable championship season and had upset Lane Tech in Chicago.”

Bob finished coaching at just the right time. David said he knew his dad wanted to be able to see his college games. After high school, David played Division III football at Knox College where he realized he wanted to coach like his dad.

     “When I was in college, I couldn’t see being done with college and being done with football,” David said.  “I remember talking with my head coach as a sophomore and he said, ‘You were born to be a coach.’”

As David picked up the torch of leading South’s football team, he is grateful for the help his dad was able to provide along the way.

“My dad’s very proud that I am [coaching],” David said.“He’s always reminded me as a teacher [I’m] going to influence a lot of kids in [my] lifetime, and that’s a good way to live life. But, as a teacher and a coach, [I’m] going to influence so many more young people and so the reward of the job is [greater].”

Both coaches love the ups and downs of the job. Bob finds the difficulties of coaching energizing and David is driven by the need to continually strive for improvement. While sometimes the road is hard, David has had his father to be a shoulder to lean on, reminding him of the importance of his job.

“[My dad] knows how hard the job is, he’s gone through all the things that head coaches go through and not all of it is enjoyable,” David said. “When things have gotten hard at times, he’s [said], ‘Remember this is why you’re doing it.’”

Robert and David have had success in their coaching years at South, and have left their mark on not only the football program but the athletes themselves.

“When I think back to my dad’s stories of his mentors and influences in life, I think he had a lot of coaches that did positive things for him and helped him become a better person,” David said. “I’ve always told my dad and college coaches that I hope I’m doing for kids what they did for me.”

Klasen agrees that the Schoenwetters’ succeeded in building the person behind the player.

“The Schoenwetter legacy is one that values what it means to be [a] Titan and focuses on the development of the student-athlete,” Klasen said. “They have created a program that rewards hard work and dedication. It teaches all involved to put the team first and forces each individual player to have a high level of accountability.”