Former Mater Dei High School star Ron Schadegg is leaving Florida behind to return to his basketball roots after being hired as the Knights' new varsity basketball coach.
Schadegg, 46 had been coaching at Timber Creek High School in Orlando, Fla., for the past 11 seasons. Besides attending and playing sports at Mater Dei in the early 1980s, Schadegg also brought his Timber Creek teams to the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament twice in recent years.
Schadegg replaces former Mater Dei coach Brian Perkes, whose record was 153-85 in eight seasons. The hiring was confirmed Thursday by Mater Dei Principal Dennis Litteken.
"Going back to where all that passion started from, being able to go back there and go back home was something that held a lot of value to me," said Schadegg, who was interviewed last week. "When you go away and then you go back home, you see it's a special place. The community, the environment, the school ... just the whole package. Going back just seems special to me."
Schadegg played at Mater Dei under former coach Dennis Trame from 1980-84 and was especially known for his defense. He went on to play at Panhandle State in Oklahoma before coaching high school basketball in several locations and eventually being hired at Timber Creek.
The school is in Class 8A, the largest in Florida. In 11 seasons, Schadegg guided the squad to a 202-98 record and coached several future Division I players.
"I haven't had any big-timers here like the schools we play," Schadegg said. "We'd played against (former Duke and current NBA player) Austin Rivers for four years and his brother for four years before that along with Darius Washington. It's been quite a run in the conference."
While Florida still had a six-class system, Schadegg's teams made Elite 8 appearances in 6A in 2006 and 2007.
"We've got Mater Dei experience and Mater De history, someone that's been away and done things on his own," Litteken said. "He's got good head coaching experience and that was something we were hoping to attract if we could."
Litteken said Mater Dei had 12 applicants for the position and that list was narrowed to four finalists. He said Schadegg was hired as an educator and will also help fill a spot in the school's advancement office formerly held by retiring Hall of Fame volleyball coach Fred Rakers.
"We felt very good about our applicants and thought we had a great selection," Litteken said. "It was a difficult choice because we had some really good opportunities. Ultimately it was his experience. He's been a head coach before and had good reviews from where he was at, plus he came from a very large-school program."
Schadegg and his wife, Shelly, have two children. Daughter Lindsey, 20, is a junior at Central Florida University and will remain in Florida, while Schadegg said 11-year-old son Jacob has shown signs of being a very good basketball player.
While some may view a move from Orlando, Fla., to Breese with trepidation, the exact opposite is true for Schadegg. His mother still lives in the Breese area along with two brothers and four sisters.
"I left there in 1984 and went away to college and haven't been back since," he said, referring to his coaching career. "Getting back there with family is something I'm really looking forward to. My kids being around their cousins is huge, they've never had that before.
"I can't wait to get back to Wally's and Ski, I'll tell you that."
Wally's is a popular local drive-in burger restaurant in Breese and Ski is the unofficial preferred soft drink of Clinton County.
"I've been very blessed with the sport of basketball to be able to travel to many places in this country and in other countries," Schadegg said. "But being able to go back there. ... It's just got a value to it that I really appreciate. Being able to participate in the 50th anniversary of the (Mater Dei) tournament and year 51, just going back there really sparked some interest.
"I know it's going to be a challenge because there's high expectations, but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to."
Schadegg said his high school teams have always prided themselves in playing aggressive defense.
"When I was playing I was always more of a defensive player, so I try to teach it how I played," he said. "We stress playing great defense and multiple defenses. If we can create some easy offense from our defense to help us establish some good things, that's great."