Adam Schroeder was told at a young age he’d likely be blind by the time he reached 21.
That meant no sports.
Not for this kid.
Schroeder had a series of injuries when he was in second and third grades, and was originally diagnosed with a torn retina. He soon was told he had X-linked juvenile retinoschisis, a condition that greatly affects his peripheral vision.
“When someone looks straight … I see more of a half circle,” Schroeder said. “Anything about 10 degrees above my central vision is not there.
” … When I was diagnosed, I had to sit out all sports for an entire year, which was torture for me because all I did was play sports.”
Schroeder made up for lost time in a big way.
A standout baseball and basketball player, Schroeder set records, won titles and helped put Seton Catholic on the sporting map. He is the fourth finalist for the Palladium-Item’s Myyon A. Barnes Athlete of the Year award.
“When you have a kid like Adam that you can basically point to and say, ‘This is how you conduct yourself,’ it makes building a program that much easier,” said Seton athletic director Trent Tremain, who started in his position when Schroeder was in sixth grade.
” … When you see Adam, the hard work he puts in, how dedicated he was to the program … when he stays committed to playing here, it makes a big difference. It takes somebody like that, somebody who could have played other places, he made the commitment to stay to make it. The rest is history.”
Schroeder made a lot of history at Seton.
He is the school’s all-time leading basketball scorer with 1,207 points, and only the second Cardinal to break the 1,000-point plateau.
He tossed three no-hitters his senior baseball season and helped the Cardinals to 17 wins.
He was instrumental in not one but two sectional baseball championships, the only two such titles for Seton.
“He set the bar so high for every sport that he participated in,” said former Seton baseball coach Jason Howard. ” … You can’t say enough good things about him. You could talk for hours and hours about Adam Schroeder and the last four years.”
One thing Howard did talk about was Schroeder’s pickoff move.
The right-hander had a successful pickoff in every game he pitched — except when the Cardinals played New Castle in the Bob Haustetter Classic at McBride Stadium.
But, it was close.
“He picked off Trey Ball, but they called him safe,” Howard said of the Trojan star who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of this year’s major league draft. “The kid’s just good. He’s good at what he does.
“I know he’ll have success in whatever medical field he decides to go into.”
Schroeder is on his way to IUPUI, where he plans to study to become an ophthalmologist.
He spent so much time with eye doctors that he developed a passion for it. Schroeder will major in biology in the pre-med program.
“He’s overcome a lot,” said Seton boys basketball coach Josh Jurgens. “For him to be as good as he was, with what he had to deal with, he doesn’t take anything for granted.”
Especially not when he was on the field or the court.
Schroeder said the diagnosis hit him hard, but, eventually, the eye disease didn’t progress as fast as originally thought.
“Things had slowed down,” he said. “I found a way to play sports, which is I threw on that mask. I grew a special affinity for that mask. It became a part of me and gave me a chance to do what I did in high school, and enjoy my high school years that much more.”
Schroeder took some catcalls from opposing fans and players early on for the protective eye wear he donned in both basketball and baseball.
He was known as “the kid with the mask from Seton.”
Soon, the “mask” part was dropped as Schroeder’s reputation grew. People sat up and took notice of the kid from Seton.
“I grew to like it and let it motivate me,” Schroeder said. “When I was a kid, little things used to get to me. I … let it fuel me.”
Schroeder also played two years of tennis for Seton, before deciding to focus on basketball and baseball.
He was able to compete for two years with his older brothers, twins Evan and David.
All three Schroeders were instrumental in Seton’s first-ever sectional championship, the baseball title the Cardinals won in 2011.
Evan and David were instrumental in their younger brother’s growth as an athlete.
“My sophomore season, I remember thinking going into that day (sectional final), when we had to win a doubleheader and I was pitching against Randolph Southern, the favorite to win, I told myself I had to win this for my brothers,” Adam Schroeder said. “They had started the baseball program.
” … I feel like we changed (things), our class and my brothers’ class. First, it was just to participate. We became an IHSAA school, we’re participating in sports. Then, as my brothers got older, it was to compete. As I’m leaving, it’s to win.”
Ask him which sport is his favorite, though, and the answer depends on the season.
“During winter it’s basketball, and during summer it’s baseball,” he said. “It’s the weather outside that determines my passion.”
The winter weather saw a determined and driven point guard who became one of the area’s most prolific players.
Schroeder helped the Cardinals set a school record for wins as he poured in nearly 20 points per game.
Schroeder reached a personal milestone early in the basketball season when he netted more than 30 points in a win over Oldenburg Academy. It wouldn’t be the last time he’d pour in 30-plus points as a senior.
He quickly met another personal goal in the spring when he no-hit National Trail in the first game of the season. Again, it wasn’t the last time Schroeder accomplished such a feat.
“We joke around about how Adam built Seton. He put us on the map, both in baseball and basketball,” Jurgens said. “He did it all. He’s a great kid. Academically, he’s top notch. You want a kid like Adam Schroeder to coach every year.”
Added Tremain: “He was an excellent leader — who you want as a leader. If you know much of Adam’s story, (he is) one of the most inspirational young men you will ever meet.”