Southsider Voice Online Editor
Playing soccer as a 17-year-old at Center Grove High School was a great time in Joe Schonegg’s life. Now, almost a decade later, he is trying to win a sectional title as a coach for rival Roncalli.
In his third season for the Rebels, Schonegg sees the sport growing more and more on the Southside.
“At a school this size it’s rare to have three teams (freshman, junior varsity and varsity),” Schonegg said. “I have 60 to 70 kids try out for my team every year. Health and safety is a big thing. A lot of people are making the decision to play soccer instead of football.”
Witnessing the growth was personal for Schonegg as his alma mater won the state title for the first time last year.
“I would love to beat them, but I have a lot of respect for their coach. I would be lying saying that I wasn’t pulling for them. They are going in the right direction with coach Jameson McLaughlin.”
Going in the right direction is where Schonegg sees the Roncalli program heading. Sectionals start today as Roncalli takes on Southport at Holder Field at 6 p.m. In his first two seasons the Rebels were eliminated in the sectional championship game.
“I want to get over that hump of winning that first sectional, but high school sports are a lot more than winning,” he said.
Sportsmanship is promoted as he doesn’t want the emotions of a bad call to get the best of his players.
“Being at a Catholic school we have the luxury of praying before the game, talking about Jesus and aspects other than soccer,” Schonegg said. “I try to instill in my players strong moral values. There have been a couple games this year where things have gotten chippy. I just try to teach them that there are more things to life than sports.”
In his first season Schonegg had a defensive formation of a 4-3-2-1, where five midfielders tried to help the lone striker. This season Roncaill is on the attack with a 4-3-3.
“My first year I was pretty timid. I was trying to figure out what to do with players, how to handle high school boys; they can be a beast all in themselves at times.”
This season the Rebels started slow at 1-4-1, but the formation changes slowly began to pay off. Roncalli improved to 6-5-3 going into last week’s Marion County tournament.
“We definitely improved as the season has gone on, which is typical for a high school soccer team,” said Schonegg, a Ball State alumnus who teaches at St. Barnabas School. He and his wife, Jordan, just had their first baby.
“Definitely got more busy,” he said on becoming a parent. “Life changes dramatically when that happens. It’s a blessing, takes a lot of time and work but it’s worth it.”
While his life is changing, his love of soccer remains the same.
“I love coming to practice every day, seeing the boys and getting to pretend I’m still 17 years old and playing high school soccer. That’s something I miss.”