In sports, athletes and coaches typically touch the lives of others in a hurry due to their playing ability, their character, or both qualities. However, it takes a lot for a fan to make that same sort of impact.
Betty Schmidt, however, was not your ordinary fan.
Betty’s passion and dedication as a fan was something to behold. Of course, she loved her friends and family, but she also loved her Notre Dame High School athletics. She passed away on Friday, July 28, 2017, but she will always be remembered by the community and will always be a Titan.
Betty grew up in Portsmouth, and had eight children. Seven of her eight children were boys, and all seven played football and basketball for Notre Dame high school.
“Anyone who knows anything about Notre Dame and their football, they think of my Mom, Betty Schmidt,” said one of Betty’s seven sons, Dan Schmidt. “She was synonymous with Notre Dame and everyone knew her.”
Her late husband, Ed, was an assistant football coach at Notre Dame in a span from “1957 to 1988” according to Notre Dame High School Principal Thomas Walker. Walker said that Schmidt “attended all the games. She was at everything.”
“Betty was probably if not the biggest fan, one of the biggest fans of Notre Dame high school football,” Walker said.
Her seat always remained the same, no matter the game. “At Spartan Stadium … you could look in one spot at that stadium and Mom was always there,” Schmidt said. “She was always on the 50 yard line.”
Betty was more than just your average fan, too.
Since she spent so much time around her husband, she picked up a lot about the game of football. “One thing that made Betty a little different than your normal mom is that she knew the game. She would know things that most normal fans would not know,” Walker said.
Darlene “Dart” Miller, wife of former Notre Dame and Wheelersburg head coach Ed Miller, said Betty was “fantastic” and added that she was “the best fan of Notre Dame. She just bled blue and gold.” Miller, along with Betty and other members of the Notre Dame community, started the “Mother’s Club” at the school.
When Betty’s sons were playing at Notre Dame, the Titans were having a lot of success. One of her close friends, Janet Bowman, remembers attending parties with Schmidt after games. “I think the time that my boys were up there and her older boy was there, we never lost a game under Ed Miller. So we had a lot of celebrating to do.”
It’s understandable for a mother to be at a sporting event to support her children as athletes or her husband as a coach. However, Betty was different. Bowman said that Betty attended “every one of the games,” even after her seven boys had graduated and her husband left his coaching position at Notre Dame in 1988, until she was physically no longer able to attend the games.
Bowman remembers Betty as being “a very good person, and everything was Notre Dame.” Bowman added that Betty was “very active at the school. At one time, she was even one of the cooks at the school.”
Betty went above and beyond to do as much as she could for the school and the community. “She wasn’t just there to watch the game,” Schmidt said. “She was very active through the week. Just so supportive of the program.”
Certainly, Betty meant a lot to not only Notre Dame athletics, but everyone at Notre Dame. “She was a huge driving force to the Notre Dame community, to the program here, who did a lot of things behind the scenes,” Walker said. “She did a lot of things she didn’t get recognized for, she was one of the key people behind the scenes at Notre Dame athletics as far as supporting us morally, spiritually and financially. Whatever we needed, Betty would see that we had it.”
Betty was not only a good fan, but a good friend as well. Miller remembers Betty as “a good friend, a true friend.” Even after the Millers moved, when Ed Miller took the head coaching job at Wheelersburg, Miller and Betty remained friends.
“We were very, very close friends all through the years, even after he [Ed Miller] moved to Wheelersburg to coach,” Miller said.
Walker and Bowman both grew up in the same neighborhood as Betty. Bowman says she met Betty when she was ten years old, and that Betty was “very friendly and made friends easily with people. She was a very good person.”
Dan Schmidt recalls walking to the stadium from his childhood home with Betty as a kid. “It was approximately a mile and Mom would walk to the high school to watch part of practice,” Schmidt said. “I remember as a little kid, just walking along with her.”
To Notre Dame and her friends, Betty was like family. “It’s like losing someone extremely close to you,” Walker said. “If you look at Betty, from 1957 to 2017, all those years that Betty was actually spanned and a part of the program, I think we’ll still feel Betty’s presence. I’ll miss Betty.”
“It is like missing a loved one. She’s been so close and supportive of the program,” Walker said.