When Steve Schroeder put in a home gym years ago, he never expected it would be used like this.
With schools and fitness centers closed to due to the corona virus, Schroeder’s sons, fraternal twins, Logan and Mason, have turned it into the unofficial training facility for La Porte baseball players to use during the shutdown.
“We moved in here when they were 1,” Steve Schroeder said. “Obviously, that wasn’t the plan, but it’s worked out well. We have a cage in the back yard, a mound. It allows them to stay up with things under some hope that they have an abbreviated season, if nothing else.”
At this point, that’s all that the Schroeders and any other spring athlete in Indiana have to hold on to, as the chance of having any games, meets or matches diminishes with each government announcement.
“I had a basketball season, so it wasn’t like I didn’t have anything to do, but I was really looking forward to baseball season,” Mason said. “It’s pretty disappointing we may not have it at all now. I was hoping we’d have at least half a season, not the full one that we wanted to play. There’s nothing you can do. It’s kind of frustrating. I feel helpless. All we can do is work to try to get better in case we can play.”
The Indiana High School Athletic Association canceled the balance of the boys basketball tournament Thursday, but haven’t shut the door on spring sports. While schools will now remain closed until at least May 1, the IHSAA has told athletics directors that it will reduce practice requirements from 10 to five should that become an option.
“It’s really frustrating,” Logan said. “We can’t do anything about it, so we’re organizing small practices to try to get better, to hold out hope that we get to play and we don’t have to just sit around and wait.”
The boys have been teammates since their Coach Pitch days with their dad in Trail Creek. They played a couple years in a La Porte town-league before moving on to travel-ball. Both were on the La Porte County-heavy Crush team that won a 14U World Series. Steve coached the boys up through their freshman year, when they became a part of higher-level clubs, most recently the La Porte Baseball Association.
“He’s always been the better hitter, I’ve always been the better pitcher,” Mason said. “It’s really nice knowing I have him to push me and he has me to push him. He’ll be honest with me, give me tips, help me get better instead of just trying to make me feel good.”
The two exchange playful barbs – “Mason’s an inch taller, but he’s a lot weaker,” the left-handed Logan jokes; “Logan’s not as good looking,” the right-handed Mason counters – but they are as close as their DNA.
“He’s been my best friend since I could walk,” Logan said. “It’s really good to always have someone to do stuff with. For the most part, we do everything together. We always play catch on the field. We do everything we can together (for baseball), and I’m better for it. I always have someone pushing me to get better, someone I can actually go out and do stuff with. I don’t have to go ask a friend.”
When the mandates were issued that the school couldn’t have any organized practices or workouts, the Schroeders and a few other seniors decided to take the lead and plan activities that they could hold in small groups. Given the set-up at the Schroeder house, a large portion of them are held there. Freshman Jackson Land has a batting cage, a pitching machine and a set-up in his family’s yard where players can field ground balls, so he also hosts.
“The seniors are trying to organize small groups so everybody can stay in shape, don’t get all rusty,” Mason said. “I’ve been throwing, lifting, staying in shape to be ready to play if we can.”
The brothers throw every day in their back yard.
“The every-day stuff, we do at home,” Logan said. “We’re trying to get more kids to put the effort in to stay ready. I’m not exactly the most physically fit person. Anyone who knows me knows running is the last thing I want to do, and I ran the other day literally to just get out of the house. I’m running two miles every day.”
Both boys are still deciding on their college futures and whether baseball will be part of it. Not having a senior season makes that process problematic.
“It certainly doesn’t help,” Logan said. “I’ve had interest, but coaches want to see how I do my senior year before they make a decision. It’s hard, especially if we don’t play at all. I’d like to improve my numbers, have a better season than last year. We have a few other seniors who need to prove themselves they can play in college and may not get the chance. I’m lucky enough to have some interest to still play.”
Mason is in a similar situation, but also considering the possibility of attending Purdue and not playing.
“I’ve had some modest interest,” he said. “But I’m in the same boat. (Schools) still need more time to see me. It’s disappointing. It could be my last season of organized baseball. I’m hoping it won’t be.”
As a dad, Steve Schroeder, a New Prairie alum and Cougars athlete, is proud of how his sons have responded to a challenge none of them ever remotely considered they would be facing.
“We’ve talked about it,” he said. “Hopefully, they get to play. We just can’t say. What’s going to be is going to be, and they understand. They have a good attitude. Either way, they’re going to keep working at it, trying to do what they can, and be ready. That’s all you can shoot for.”