Making an Impact: Les Schroeder
The hallways of this Tea elementary school are filled with a sense of possibility and that first step to success, is finding a way, no matter the circumstance. No one knows this better than Titan’s Coach Les Schroeder.
He was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at birth, meaning the hip and thigh bone don’t fit correctly in the socket, making the hip joint partially or permanently dislocated. At 10 weeks old Schroeder was introduced to the Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis, where doctors told his parents he may never walk. By the age of three, he had three surgeries and was put in a full body cast for a year to improve his chances.
“I was in the wagon for a full year and a full body cast from the hip and down. And that's how my mom and dad got me around. I'll remember it, just by how hard it was,” Schroeder explained.
The year proved successful, and the team of doctors then helped him find his first step.
“I can't thank them enough the Shriners got me to walking I wasn’t supposed to walk. They taught me how to walk. Then it was pretty much the physical therapy at school. One of my favorite memories is riding a bike in the elementary school, and I got to use that as my physical therapy,” Schroeder said.
Through the physical therapy, he got a taste of sports, and was even able to participate, but his playing time was limited.
“I probably played athletics until I was in eighth grade, the Shriners Hospital doctors told me that my hip and my leg were not strong enough to play sports. And I was trying to think of a way to because I love sports,” he said. “I just wanted to be part of a team.”
After receiving the news, he began working to find another way.
“When I was in eighth and ninth grade, I thought about becoming a student manager and I was student manager in my high school from my ninth grade year until my senior year for both football, boys and girls basketball. I even tried track one year to had to carry the shotput and those were bigger than I was and that’s kind of what lead into the coaching, what I’m doing today,” he explained.
This background provided Schroeder the experience he needed to coach and for the last 9 years, Schroeder has been coaching in the Tea Area school district and is now the 8th Grade Junior High Volleyball Coach.
“It's cool that I've been here this long and that you know the kids that you see in the elementary schools, now go into middle school and then go into the high schools, and you watch their careers. Sports and helping people, it's a perfect day,” Schroeder continued.
His impact spans from the court to the classroom. Remembering the feeling of wanting to be included, Schroeder works to do just that in his role as a paraprofessional at Legacy elementary school.
“A paraprofessional is a person that kind of helps out the main Special Ed teacher. They have certain kids that they help during the day, whether it be homework, whether it be to get from one class to another, just different little mini jobs to better help a student that might not know the ins and outs. My job is just to kind of be that guide for them,” He went on to say, “I want all these kids to be included no matter what we do whether it be coaching or here, I guess that’s why I love my job.”
Whether he’s helping in the hallway, or giving the game plan, Schroeder wants his students to know there’s always a way to reach your goals, no matter your circumstance. Of course, he’s there to help them find their first step.
He finished by saying, “There's always another avenue, I never gave up. I mean, I went for what I wanted to do. I hope they can take a look at, you know, the way that I portray myself and to support them and, and to help them along the way that anything is possible if they put their mind to it. I'm just thankful for everything that I get, and, and get to do this is just like it's just been a great experience.”