On Mater Dei basketball game nights, Shelly Schadegg knows her phone is going to ring.
It takes no longer than a few seconds for her to tell if husband’s Ron Schadegg’s Mater Dei Knights have won or lost.
“I can always tell if they lost, I don’t get a phone call for a couple hours.” Shelly Schadegg said. “Usually he deals with the team first and then he’ll give me a call. Basketball is a huge part of our lives. It has been for 25 years.”
Phone calls, texts and occasional visits are how the Schadeggs have been communicating during a successful basketball season that has brought the Knights to the Class 2A state tournament in Peoria.
Shelly Schadegg also listens to games over the Internet via live streaming, or gets update texts from her children or others at the games.
The family was together during Ron Schadegg’s 11-year run as the head coach of Timber Creek High in Orlando, Fla., but things got a lot more complicated in 2013 when he accepted the head coaching job at his alma mater, Mater Dei High School in Breese.
Ron Schadegg and his son, 13-year-old Jacob, moved to Breese. Daughter Lindsey, now 21, was attending Central Florida University at the time, but since has also moved to Breese and plans to enroll at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
But because of her job requiremeents as a corporate vice president for a hotel management firm, Shelly Schadegg has been living in her home state of Texas, where her company is renovating a Hyatt hotel in Austin.
The Schadeggs decided long ago it was all worth it. A few hardships — and more than a few miles — were not going to stop them from being a family.
“Once that’s done, she’ll transition out here and we’ll be back to normalcy,” said Ron Schadegg, who met his wife after he graduated from Panhandle State in Oklahoma. “Texans are a different breed, they like their own state just like we do. She’s been very supportive and sacrificed quite a bit for us to be able to do this and be in this position.”
Schadegg said he hasn’t seen his wife in six weeks, but talks to her twice or three times daily. And don’t think for a second she would miss the thrill of seeing her husband coaching Mater Dei at the state tournament.
She’s flying to Peoria and will be there for Friday’s semifinal game.
“I can’t miss it,” she said. “I’m a huge basketball fan and I can’t miss the opportunity to go watch his team compete at state.”
Schadegg and his children miss Shelly and the family’s unique living arrangement adds more than a bit of difficulty at times. Not to mention the frequent flier miles.
“Generally she likes to get back here every two to three weeks, but her work has been busy and it’s been busy here,” said Ron Schadegg, who handles social media, alumni relations and communications at Mater Dei. “It’s been a little too long right now, but we make it work. I support what she does, she supports me with what I do and at the end of the day, it all works out.
“It’s definitely been a tough journey that we’re trying to make the best of.”
While he was living and coaching in Florida, Schadegg twice brought his teams to player in Mater Dei Christmas Tournament. Not only did that give him a chance to catch up with his family — his 86-year-old mother, Mary, still lives in Breese and six siblings are in close proximity — but it also got the attention of his basketball-loving son.
“He made the trip up with us from Florida and was amazed at the atmosphere, the fan base and the support,” Ron Schadegg said. “When we got back to Florida he told me he wanted to play basketball at a school like Mater Dei. I told him we’d check into it if there was ever an opening.”
“We’ve got no regrets. If he didn’t want to come here, we wouldn’t be here. We’d have headed to Texas with my wife.”
Schadegg’s intensity and competitiveness were legendary as a player at Mater Dei. After helping the Knights to a 30-1 season as a senior that ended a game short of the state tournament, he went on to play one year at SIUE and three more at Panhandle State.
“We watched him grow up at St. Augustine’s in Breese,” Mater Dei Athletic Director and former basketball coach Dennis Trame said. “He was a feisty player as a grade school player so you knew he had that instinct and that will to win. He didn’t show a whole lot of emotion, but you knew his mind was mulling over what you were telling him to do.
“He wasn’t a person who spoke out a lot, he just went out and performed and played hard. Gave you 100 percent.”
Trame said he sees quite a bit of Schadegg in the Knights’ state tourney team.
“Sure, because we’re relentless,” Trame said. “Most people probably don’t anticipate us being so aggressive. Our team defense and pressure has been great, we’ve been able to hold other teams under 40 points numerous times based on that.”
Shelly Schadegg said there was no way she would have kept her husband from returning to his hometown and former school to coach.
“I told him to go for it, that’s been his dream job to get back to Mater Dei,” she said. “I had already relocated to Austin and instead of him and the kids moving out here with me, he got that opportunity and there was no looking back. I’m very very glad that decision was made.
“Breese was not that much different than my hometown. I grew up in the Texas panhandle, same size and same type of community. It definitely is a place that feels like home if you haven’t been there for 20 years.”
It’s what brought Ron Schadegg back to Breese and what helped his children get to know their grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins a lot better.
“Being here has been really good for (my kids) and the rest of my family because they get to see them grow up,” Ron Schadegg said. “My mom’s been ecstatic to have my kids around and pop in saying hi.”
Shelly Schadegg spent most of the time with her daughter growing up, but admits how hard it has been missing out on quality time with her seventh-grade son.
“That is very tough,” she said. “My kids are great, they completely understand. It is hard on them and I try to get back as much as you can. I’ not going to say it has been easy.”
For now, the juggling continues as Shelly Schadegg is building hotels while her husband is chasing a state championship.
“Having the success we’re having and advancing to the state tournament, it’s been everything I envisioned,” Ron Schadegg said. “I can’t say I came in here thinking that was going to happen, but it’s something I hoped would have happened. It’s a great place to be.
“It’s been busy for sure, but it’s all worth it. The sacrifices we’re all going through as a family, they understand the passion I’ve got for the sport and the job. They couldn’t be more supportive.”