At times, there are points in each of our lives where we have to put our own priorities first — not just to better ourselves, but to better our families as well.
Anybody who knows former Notre Dame head coach Drew Mader knows that he is passionate about sports, and more importantly, passionate about the kids that he coaches.
But like the vast majority of us, there comes a time where moving on, in order to continue the journey through, is the best decision.
Mader, who served as the head coach of the Notre Dame baseball program since the 2012 season, officially resigned the head coaching position at the school last weekend after accepting a new opportunity as the I.T. Director at East — a position that he previously held at Notre Dame. In addition to his new position at East, Mader will also begin his master’s degree in education at Marshall as the 33-year old looks to advance his career. Both tasks begin next week.
“I’m going to miss the days of winter workouts and the hard work of lifting and conditioning in the gym,” Mader said of his six seasons at Notre Dame. “In the end, it was all worth it when you look back at the SOC I Championships we were able to win. Some were fortunate enough to win multiple championships and that is something that they will always look back on. I took great pride in giving them all of my time and effort, which was something I was taught by my baseball coach, Dean Schuler (Mader played under Schuler at Valley, where he graduated from in 2003). His attention to every detail makes players understand, appreciate, and love the game of baseball. That is something I will always remember and love about the game.”
Initially, Mader, who had taken time away from baseball following his high school playing days to pursue his college degree at Shawnee State University, was thrilled to just have the opportunity to return to the game after former Notre Dame head coach Kevin Noel asked Mader to become an assistant on his coaching staff for the 2011 season.
“I look back when Kevin Noel (the previous head coach) asked me to be an assistant coach and the honor I had to just be considered an assistant,” Mader said. “It was my very first year as a coach and will never forget that moment of excitement I felt. I missed the days of playing and this was a great way to be a part of the game again.”
But even then, the thought of being a head coach never crossed Mader’s mind — until Noel decided to step down and hand the keys of the program to the then 27-year old.
“Little did I know, Coach Noel had a bigger plan in mind,” Mader said. “Following the season, he stepped down from coaching and asked me to take over the program. I felt excited, lucky, and extremely proud to be considered for the job. Filling Coach Noel’s shoes was going to be tough but I was up for the challenge.”
And up for the challenge he was. In fact, Mader not only continued the tradition established by the baseball program, but built on it by winning multiple SOC I Championships at the school (including a 2016 campaign where Notre Dame went undefeated in conference play) and establishing the program as a regular visitor at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe as Notre Dame qualified for district play in five of his six seasons at the school. The Titans made the Division IV District Finals twice, in 2013 and 2017, during Mader’s tenure within the baseball program.
However, Mader believes that he was simply thankful to have assistance and tutelage from several coaching hands, including his elder brother, Matt, and Dan Cassidy, who served as an assistant within the program.
“I credit the great coaches for our success,” Mader said. “I would not be as successful without those who have given their time. Matt Mader, who is my older brother, was always there to assist me. I trusted what he thought while never questioning his decisions, and I believe that he did the same for me. Together, I believe we made a great duo because at the end of the night, he and I could give each other honest feedback that proved to be successful. Dan’s countless hours of time he gave to the program to help with construction of our new scoreboard, infield, and dugouts, among additional items, was amazing,” Mader said. “I never imagined someone caring so much to help me with. He came on as an assistant coach with many years of coaching and playing experience. I knew that coming in, he would have an immediate impact.”
For anybody who leaves one of their passions in life, it can be tough to move on from the game. However, Mader’s admiration for the kids that he coached won’t be going anywhere.
“While I am leaving Notre Dame to pursue new avenues, I will continue to support the players I have had the pleasure of coaching,” Mader said. “I wish them the success they deserve and look forward to seeing them play and graduate.”