CGHS Junior Joey Schmitz Is a Player, Student, Coach and Leader

Writer / Kevin Conrad
Photography Provided

The Center Grove High School (CGHS) boys basketball team had one of its most historic seasons with 22 wins, the most victories since the Trojans’ 24 wins in 1933-34. CGHS junior guard Joey Schmitz was a vital part of this year’s team’s success, averaging 12 points per game, making 41 three-pointers, and hitting 88% of his free throws. Schmitz’s on-court excellence earned him first-team all-county honors and underclassmen honorable mention all-state.Joey Schmitz

He also excels in the classroom with a 4.68 grade point average, ranking him in the top 20 of his class. Schmitz is truly the epitome of an elite student-athlete.

With all of his success on the hardwood and in the classroom, Schmitz made time to be a volunteer coach in the Center Grove Boys Basketball League (CGBBL) for the past two seasons, as an assistant coach last year and as a head coach this year.

His third-grade boys team went undefeated this season, winning the championship game by one point.

“It was very, very cool to have Joey coach me,” says Center Grove Elementary third-grader JT Lidy. “He was fun to watch play for CG and it was great that he was also teaching us about basketball. He made basketball fun and taught us to work hard.”

“I volunteer because I enjoy coaching the kids and it is always fun to see their progression,” says Schmitz. “I also volunteer because I like anything related to basketball, and teaching kids is as entertaining as it gets.”

“Coach Joey really helped us be a better team and to use teamwork,” says JT. “He also taught us plays. That was fun. He also taught me how to be a better dribbler to get to the basket. The best part was that I got to see him as a player and learn from him as a coach. I got to learn his ways. I watched him play in the high school games and tried to be like him in our games. Joey never gave up and was always the hardest worker on the court.”

“At the beginning of the year, you never know what you will get skill-wise, and this year my kids really progressed,” says Schmitz. “Throughout the year, you can find a place where every kid improved, whether it was their ball handling or defense.”

The parents were appreciative that Schmitz took the time to share his knowledge of basketball with their sons.

“As a parent, it was great to see Coach Joey give his time, energy and talent in working with the boys,” says Jaime Lidy, JT’s mother. “The boys obviously look up to him already, being a member of the high school team they may want to play on someday, but we parents were able to see how our sons got to interact with him, and one another, in a different way than with a parent coach. It was a really cool experience.”

Some things are just bigger than the game of basketball. Schmitz is a great role model for the boys.

“JT learned that it’s possible to not only be a good student like Joey, but also a great athlete, and still have the time and passion to pass things on to others,” says Jaime. “JT comes from a coaching family and plays sports year-round, so he knows how hard coaches work, even volunteer coaches like Joey. Specific to basketball, JT learned that inbound plays beneath the basket really do work if you do what the coach says.”

“Joey’s heavy involvement in the youth league is the type of culture we want to endorse within our program and in our community,” says CGBBL Board President Brad Smith. “We hope that others will follow in Joey’s footsteps in being this involved. We are beyond thankful for his coaching and mentorship with our youth, and we are lucky to have him in our community.”

CGHS boys basketball head Coach Zach Hahn knows Schmitz is a high-character young man.

Joey Schmitz“Joey’s dedication to the basketball program is second to none,” says Hahn. “He shows up early and stays late to work on his game. He rebounds for teammates and is always trying to get better. He volunteer coaches in our CGBBL to be a good role model for the players. It’s a rare character trait that allows someone to be selfless and passionate about others the way Joey coaches in our youth program when he has so much going on currently in his life as a high school student-athlete.”

How does a high school student-athlete have time to be a top-notch student and basketball player and also carve out time to be a volunteer coach?

“It’s hard to balance because they all come at you in the same winter season,” says Schmitz. “I’ve always been good in school with getting my work done on time and keeping my grades high while balancing basketball at the same time. Though this year I learned that with coaching, I have to stay on top of things even more. We only practice one day a week and have a game every Saturday, so it’s not a huge time commitment. But there are other aspects such as sending messages to parents with dates, places and times, while also making sure that I have people to fill in for me when I have another basketball conflict. I had to learn to become a better communicator.”

Schmitz says, at the moment, he doesn’t have any ambitions to pursue coaching. He just relishes the opportunity to share his basketball knowledge and wisdom with the youngsters. With that said, he adds that he has learned a lot from this experience.

“By helping the kids, it made me realize how much of a role model I can be for them, and that made me appreciate coaching even more,” says Schmitz. “Additionally, this has given me a new perspective on leadership. Going into my senior season, I feel that I need to be a bigger leader and coaching has definitely helped me.”

On the day of the championship, Schmitz wasn’t sure he could coach his team as he had a high school practice at the same time. His high school teammates voted to have practice earlier in the day so he could coach his team. Many of his high school teammates and coaches attended the championship game to support him, his team and the league.

“Joey and his [high school] team created such a great atmosphere on championship Saturday,” says Smith. “It created such a buzz that it was talked about across elementary schools all the way up to the high school. I lost count of how many players and coaches were there supporting not just Joey’s team, but the other team as well. I truly believe Joey’s involvement was the main driver in not just the atmosphere, but the level of great fundamental basketball displayed. You can tell he brought what even he was practicing at high school to these kids, and this will go a long way for the kids and our program. I am pretty sure if Joey decides to coach next year, we will have a long wait list requesting Joey to be their coach.”

“Throughout the season I tried to make the game as fun as possible for the kids, and usually winning means you will have more fun,” says Schmitz. “To go undefeated was amazing because it kept the team morale high all year and it made the game super enjoyable for the kids. And then to end the season with a championship win in our closest, most intense game of the year was the best way to top it all off. Plus, having all my [high school teammates] there to support that game and make the energy in the building that much higher created such a great atmosphere.”

“I admire Coach Joey because he is more than just a really good basketball player,” says JT. “He is kind, smart, strong and fast,Joey Schmitz and he has a really good three-point shot. I really liked it when we played knockout in practice. That was fun. He may not remember it, but I’m pretty sure I beat him once.”

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