For The Tribune
Father Time usually catches up with people eventually, but it has yet to catch 85-year-old Don Schroeder, who can still be found swinging his bat on one of the softball diamonds at Lincoln Park in Columbus.
The Seymour resident is the oldest member of the 58-and-older recreational softball league that plays at Lincoln Park on Thursday evenings, but his wife, Pat, said he is the youngest at heart.
Extreme soreness after games may be an issue for an athlete of Schroeder’s age, but that isn’t the case.
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He can play a doubleheader like he did recently and relax at home without worrying about icing any of his joints.
“I’ve got good genes from my parents,” Schroeder said. “I’ve always been active all my life. When I was teaching in Jennings County High School, I had three (physical education) classes each day. I led calisthenics and stuff like that. Then I’ve always exercised. Right now, I go to a fitness place in Seymour three or four days a week.”
Sports always have surrounded Schroeder’s life. He was Jennings County’s first varsity coach for the baseball and basketball programs after having his own career in those two sports at the since-closed Burney High School in Decatur County.
Schroeder also played for the Indiana University freshman baseball team before injuring his shoulder as a sophomore and nearly made the freshman basketball team as a walk-on.
Schroeder also used to coach in a 40-and-older softball league at Lincoln Park and continues to get that respect out on the softball field. Both teammates and opponents refer to him as coach.
Lincoln Park isn’t the only place where Schroeder can be found playing softball. He also competes in a 55-and-older league in Florida. There is a National Tournament of Champions that takes place every year, and Schroeder has been on four national championship teams. He was one run away from winning his fifth national championship last year. He also was named the most valuable player of the tournament in 2004.
“That’s fantastic because you are playing against the cream of the crop,” Schroeder said. “They don’t bring any duds to play with you in that. No way. They bring ballplayers.”
Schroeder has a lot of baseball games under his belt and thanks the Lord that he has been able to continue playing.
Getting a chance to play in front of his wife and kids has been an enjoyable experience for Schroeder, and he feels he has more years left to come.
“I don’t feel my age, so I’m going to continue playing as long as I can,” Schroeder said.
Pat Schroeder has enjoyed watching him play ball over the years, and she also thinks Don can continue winning the battle against Father Time.
“He’s always been a good athlete, and I just can’t see him stopping for a long time,” she said. “Hopefully, he can continue.”
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Name: Don Schroeder
High school: Burney
College: Indiana University
Occupation: Retired teacher and baseball and boys basketball coach from Jennings County
Softball accolades: Four-time national champion; 2004 National Tournament of Champions MVP