By STEVE KRAH
Dave Schrage does not smile 24 hours day.
It only seems that way.
An upbeat demeanor has followed him through life and a lengthy baseball coaching career.
“I don’t think you can accomplish anything if you are not excited and enthusiastic about it,” says Schrage, who turns 56 this month. “I love going to my job everyday.”
Schrage is in his 29th overall season and first at Butler University in Indianapolis. He has been a head coach in more than 1,500 games and recently won his 750th.
“I feel really fortunate to still be coaching,” says Schrage. “It’s been a fun journey.”
A head coach since 1988, Schrage served at Waldorf (Iowa), Northern Iowa, Northern Illinois, Evansville, Notre Dame and South Dakota State before landing in Indy.
“Butler is a great fit for me,” says Schrage. Daughters Katy (a Butler graduate) and Bri (a Ball State graduate) both live and work in Indianapolis. “For five years, I was 14 hours away (in Brookings, S.D.).”
Schrage played for Jim Hendry at Creighton University and got his start in coaching when Hendry sent him to St. Thomas University in Florida to be a graduate assistant on the staff of Paul Mainieri.
After that, Schrage was an assistant at Creighton and also was a player/coach for the Queensland Rams Club Team in Australia.
Hendry, the former Chicago Cubs general manager and current special assistant to New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, has a son (John) playing baseball at the University of Indianapolis and has been able to catch up with Schrage when he’s in town.
Schrage followed Mainieri as Notre Dame head coach. The friends see each other every year at the American Baseball Coaches Association national convention (the event is coming to Indy Jan. 4-7, 2018). Mainieri is now head coach at Louisiana State University.
With the Bulldogs, Schrage embraces The Butler Way — a set of principles established many years ago by famed coach Tony Hinkle.
Barry Collier has been credited for resurrecting the concepts of humility, passion, unity, servanthood and thankfulness when he was the school’s head basketball coach and has continued to promote The Butler Way for all sports as athletic director.
“These are the same ideals I have,” says Schrage. “We are developing our players as human beings. They are learning to deal with adversity and overcoming it and becoming a positive influence — on and off the court (or field).”
While Schrage, who is assisted by Ben Norton, Andy Pascoe and Brian Meyer, inherited the current Butler roster (which features 11 players from Indiana hometowns), he was well aware of the diamond talent produced in the Hoosier State.
When he steered Evansville to 43 wins, Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles and advancement to the NCAA Charlottesville Regional finals in 2006, the Purple Aces had several state-trained players.
“That spoke well of the quality of high school baseball (in Indiana),” says Schrage. “The coaches do a tremendous job in running their programs.”
Schrage says the exposure that Indiana players receive at places like Grand Park in Westfield and through the evaluation efforts of Prep Baseball Report are growing the game here.
When he was still coaching in Iowa, Schrage worked at one of the first Perfect Game showcases and now that company is touting itself as the world’s largest baseball scouting service.
“In this media world with Facebooking and all this information out there, it’s very helpful (to college coaches),” says Schrage. “When I first got into coaching, I had to beat the bushes and find players in the small towns. Now, there’s no more secrets. It’s opened up tremendous opportunities for the student-athletes. It’s nothing but advantageous to coaches, kids and their families.”
Butler plays in the Big East Conference with Creighton, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and Xavier. The conference tournament is scheduled for May 25-28 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., the same stadium as the College World Series. The Big East tournament winner will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division I tournament.
Dave Schrage (left in blue sweatshirt) follows a play in his first season as head baseball coach at Butler University in Indianapolis. This is his 29th overall season as a head coach. (Brent Smith Photo)
A head coach since 1988, Dave Schrage (middle) served at Waldorf (Iowa), Northern Iowa, Northern Illinois, Evansville, Notre Dame and South Dakota State before landing at Butler. (Brent Sm)
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