Now, he can simply be called an Ohio Hall of Famer.
Schuler will be inducted today into the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus at noon.
Schuler, with 410 wins as a head coach, 18 sectional titles and four district championships, has won 20 games in a season eight times in his 25-year coaching career, all at Valley. Schuler was also name the 2004 OHSAA Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award.
While he's been at one school, there's been many people in his life that have been there to help him reach this milestone.
“You're looking at other coaches, you're looking at players, your looking at parents and you're looking at my family,” Schuler said. “Valley was a prosperous program, even when I played there. With the kids' attitude and the attitude of the community, with the love that I have, the response I've had, all of a sudden my peers have said you deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“First and foremost I feel I've been granted a gift to be a teacher and a coach. The people most important to me have been my mom and dad. They gave me structure, they gave me opportunities.”
As far as Schuler's style as a coach, a big influence was his coach at Malone, Bob Starcher. Starcher coached from 1973 through 1995 and won 521 games. Schuler said Starcher created a family environment for his players and preached ‘God, team and me.' Schuler said he took that bit of advice and expanded it to God, family, team and me.
Schuler said Starcher not only knew his players, but his players' families.
“I believe in being fair, being honest, being consistent and being true to your players and good things will happen,” Schuler said.
Schuler also said former coaches Dennis Hegarty (Northwest), Jack Branon (Wheelersburg) and Tom Monroe (Waverly) have helped make him the coach he is today. They were some of his harshest rivals and helped him learn the trade.
Now, Schuler said he has Tim Martin at Minford, Michael Estep at Wheelersburg and Keith Throckmorton at Northwest to learn from and be there to help if needed so the cycle continues.
“It's not so much you pay back, you pay forward,” Schuler said. “As you make connections your trying to help people get an opportunity that I got. I think you're ultimate goal is to help people get opportunities like we got.”
Along with the importance of family on a team, Schuler also learned that, above all else, fundamentals are the key to winning.
“The thing that was instilled in me was to develop yourself as an athlete with good work habits,” Schuler said. “By developing good work habits and discipline, the opportunity for success is greater. Any coach you talk to tries to develop that student athlete into becoming a role model in society.
“(My strength is) probably the ability to convey and teach kids how to do things fundamentally right and to have the relationship between discipline and having fun doing it. When you see juniors and seniors working on their fundamentals, you know they can teach underclassmen and be leaders. If you throw strikes, hit strikes and make the routine play, you have a chance to be successful.”
That's not to say coaches don't try to do too much at times. Schuler said every coach has been guilty of over coaching. Schuler said it's a matter of letting the players have fun and when they make a mistake, turn it into a positive mistake.
While Schuler has tried to keep everything simple and emphasized family and growing as people, he's also mastered the balancing act between teaching young men and winning ball games at an average of 16 per season.
“I think you have to define what winning is,” Schuler said. “Sometimes winning isn't always on the scoreboard. Each kid may be at another level physically and mentally. Kids reach their talent level and the team reaches the talent level and you teach the little things, you're putting yourself in a position to have success. You find out that things fall in place and they put team first it makes them realize that in life, you need people.”
After 29 years at Valley, 25 as the head baseball coach, Schuler said the feelings heading into a new season are different than they were when he first started. Yet, there's still one similarity. He hasn't figured out a way to win every game yet, just more than most.
“I think you're excited every year because you're trying to find the pieces to the puzzle for success,” he said. “You're trying to maintain success probably from the fear of failure. All I tried to do was continue that. When people put you're program as one of the top programs, you know, year in and year out, the challenge of every coach is to beat your program because of the success you've had.”
Schuler said the experience has been humbling for him. Being chosen to be in a Hall of Fame isn't something to be taken lightly and most coaches don't even have it as a career goal. The good ones only look to the next game.
Since Schuler got the phone call in October telling him of his impending induction, he's had the chance to look back.
“As time has unfolded, you've been able to watch a video of your life and reminisce of the people who have crossed your life and made an impact,” he said. “This week the school honored me in between games the other night. To stand before the community and be acknowledged is very humbling. I think that's dearest to my heart is a special thanks to anybody that has crossed my life, from family to friends, to community to fellow coaches, locally or statewide.”
Schuler has been offered other jobs, which is expected with his success. Having played for and graduated from Valley, Schuler said he couldn't imagine coaching or teaching anywhere else, though.
“I think growing up, that was always my goal, to coach at Valley,” he said. “Graduating from Valley, playing for Valley and coming back. The thing that kept me in Valley is the school, community and the way I've been treated over the years. I can't say I wanted to leave because I feel that's where I'm supposed to be and enjoy every day. I feel, as a coach, I've made an impact on people's lives and that's the ultimate goal of any teacher and coach. It's home.”
If you are interested in attending the Hall of Fame luncheon, tickets can be bought today at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus for $15.
JASON R. CRISLER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 242 or at email@example.com.