Former Seymour standout athlete, retired educator remembered

Steve Riordan first met Phil Schroer when he played on the same American Legion baseball team as his older brother, D.R.

In grade school, Riordan remembers Schroer playing basketball for St. John’s Sauers Lutheran School. Schroer dribbled around defenders, going behind his back, while scoring at least 30 points.

Riordan, who played for St. Ambrose Catholic School in Seymour, said Schroer dominated and was head and shoulders above the rest of the players on the floor.

When they were older, Schroer and Riordan played softball together for Edco, Wills’ Tavern and then Seymour Merchants. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, Riordan said.

They played for Mahan Ford in Columbus in the 1968 American Softball Association World Tournament in Jones Beach, New York. In 1970, the Seymour Merchants traveled to Detroit, Michigan, to play in another ASA World Tournament. That season was highlighted by defeating the defending ASA Industrial champions and the defending ASA Open champions and placing fifth at the Detroit World Tournament.

When Schroer moved to the Louisville, Kentucky, area, he competed for Jiffy Club, which won a world title in Cleveland, Ohio. Eventually, he starred for the Kentucky Bourbons and Lexington Stallions in the pro ranks.

In addition to playing basketball at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico, Schroer pitched for their NAIA national championship baseball team in 1967.

Schroer met his wife, Veronica “Ronnie,” during his college days at NMHU, and Riordan proudly served as his best man at their wedding in 1969.

“Over the years, we stayed in close contact, often reminiscing about our time growing up in Seymour,” said Riordan, who now lives in Evansville. “We shared so many laughs and great experiences.”

Riordan said Schroer rates as one of the all-time greatest athletes to graduate from Seymour High School. Nicknamed “Lurch,” Schroer was an accomplished athlete, coach, athletic director, educator and parent.

On Aug. 9, Schroer unexpectedly passed away. He was 75.

He lived in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, at the time. On Aug. 19, New Mexico’s governor issued a formal proclamation making it Phillip R. Schroer Day.

“What a fitting tribute and wonderful recognition for a life spent in public education,” said Riordan, who himself had a 40-year career as a teacher, coach and administrator.

“He was a great friend and even better person,” Riordan said of Schroer. “I and many others will miss him greatly. I’m proud to call him my friend.”

At SHS, Schroer was a multi-year starter in basketball and baseball. During his junior basketball season, he was the team’s second-leading scorer and helped the Owls to sectional and regional titles.

As a senior in 1963-64, he led the basketball team to sectional and regional titles again and a berth in the semistate championship game. He earned all-sectional, all-regional and all-South Central Conference honors and was named the team’s most outstanding player. Then in the spring that year, he earned all-SCC honors while leading the Owls to a baseball conference title.

He then accepted a scholarship to play baseball at NMHU, where he was part of the Cowboys team that won the NAIA national title.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in education with a minor in journalism in 1969, Schroer moved back to his home state of Indiana, where he started working at North Vernon High School, beginning his lifelong career as a teacher and coach. That same year, he married his college sweetheart.

Schroer continued his career as an educator and coach at Clarksville, Henryville, Corydon and Providence high schools and also earned his master’s degree in education from Indiana University in 1974.

In 1983, Schroer and his family moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he began coaching and teaching at Robertson High School.

Three years later, he accepted the boys basketball head coaching position at Cibola High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he served for 25 years in various roles, also including athletic director and dean of students. He retired from there in 2011.

In honor of his career as an athlete or coach, Schroer was inducted into the New Mexico Highlands University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, Cibola High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018 and Seymour High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021.

In addition, NMHU’s national championship baseball team will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame this year.

Schroer is survived by his wife of 53 years, Veronica “Ronnie” Schroer; sons, Shonn Schroer, Justin Schroer and Nick Schroer; daughter, Mandee Schroer; four grandchildren; two sisters; and several nieces and nephews.

The family asks people to consider making a contribution in Schroer’s honor to the Schroer Family Memorial Fund to support college scholarships for graduating Cibola High School students. To make a donation, visit