Schroyer’s decision best for all
by Jim Gazzolo
There’s burning the candle at both ends and then there is just burning yourself out.
Heath Schroyer was in the process of doing both.
A workaholic by nature, Schroyer has a hard time saying no.
Whether it be a fan, booster, player or recruit, Schroyer is always ready to give a minute to somebody for the good of his program. What he found out is there aren’t enough minutes in a day to please everybody.
Try as he might, he cannot do everything.
Maybe if there was no pandemic, no hurricanes, no destruction of the McNeese campus. Probably not. There is always somebody tugging at his shirt, wanting more, needing something, problems to be solved.
So Schroyer did the only thing he could do, he cut his job titles in half. Dropping the very job he came here to do and taking on one that he never went after.
Thursday he did what had to be done, ending his 26 years on the bench of basketball programs and taking on a new career, that as the full-time athletic director at McNeese.
He started as the interim A.D. last summer, saw the school drop the word interim in December and now he is a one career man. Well, sort of.
Schroyer is also the host of a television show known as Poke Nation. For full disclosure, I help him out a bit on that show and have come to understand what makes the man tick just a little bit.
He is driven. If no longer by wins and losses now by rebuilding an athletic program that is at a history low point. By only the fault of Mother Nature, McNeese is starting from ground zero. Schroyer has been there from the very beginning.
On the morning of August 28, 2020 he saw the devastation while standing at the center of his new basketball arena and looking up through a missing ceiling at blue skies while standing in water.
“It was a gut punch,” Schroyer called it.
He wanted to cry, for a moment. Then he went to work.
He hasn’t stopped since.
“He has been perfect for us, a great person for not only the university but the community,” said McNeese President Daryl Burckel. “I’m not sure anybody could have done the things he has done during this time.”
“He has made this program and now athletic department so involved with the community that we could not have asked for anything more.”
While his team was practicing in Lafayette he drove back and forth almost daily between his job as athletic director and basketball practice. It was, however, a job that needed to be done.
Schroyer’s journey back and forth was not different then a lot of ours, but it was taking a lot out of him.
Maybe it hurt the basketball team some. He did have to spend a week in Dallas as the Southland Conference imploded instead of trying to fix the Cowboys, who were struggling.
However, it is what had to be done.
In ordinary circumstances both jobs might have been doable, though I doubt it. We all know these are not ordinary circumstances.
Yet Schroyer tried to do what seems the impossible.
At first he said he wanted to try to do both jobs for two seasons, but that became impossible.
So he did what he could until it was time to do what he must.
Walking away from one career and into another is not easy at any time, but to do it when so much work has to be done seems next to impossible.
He could have done the easy thing, walk away. His resume is more than good enough and his connections in the basketball world would have made a move to better facilities a smart one.
But Schroyer has told me he fell in love with Lake Charles and now considers it home. And you don’t leave home when it needs to be fixed.
So he now goes from rebuilding basketball programs to rebuilding an athletic program that has lots of physical damage and needs just as much financial repair.
To do so while also coaching basketball would be impossible.
Thus Schroyer did what he had to do, giving up the job he loves for the one that needs him the most.
It was not only the right move, it was his only move.
* Jim Gazzolo is the host of Eye on Sports and Poke Nation for CBS-Lake Charles. He covers McNeese sports for the American Press and CBS-Lake Charles.