In Patrick Schneider’s basketball program, Bellarmine players knew what to do if they needed a break.
He used to tug on his jersey.
For 30 years, Coach himself didn’t need a jersey tug.
Schneider gave his everything to his program, everything he believed his players deserved from a coach, everything that made his school and community proud.
On Wednesday, addressing his team for the last time, Schneider told his players that the moment had come to pull off their jerseys. It was time for Schneider to step aside, retiring after 846 games and 534 wins, leaving the San Jose program as he led 14 sectional and six league championships.
“What I said to people in class today is, ‘Guys, after 30 years I’ve been going as hard as I can, for as long as I can. I just need to tug on my jersey,'” Schneider said Wednesday night. .
“It was definitely emotional in class. I was just impressed that so many people said they were so happy they were able to play on my last team.”
Schneider, 61, was as thoughtful and eloquent as ever, going down memory lane hours after the school’s news release announcing that the coach was retiring from basketball but would continue as a teacher in the religious studies department.
The Belles didn’t always win under Schneider, but they were always ready. He played smart, team ball which was a treat to watch when they were at their best, far more often than not.
The son of a coach, Schneider is a historian, strategist and romanticist when it comes to the sport that means a lot to his family. Schneider’s father, the late Bernie Schneider, was a graduate of Archbishop Riordan and USF and was long coaching high school basketball in Marin County.
“One of the most beautiful things about the game of basketball is how democratic it is,” Schneider said. “Football is so role-defining and specific. Baseball, everyone has their turn at the plate. But there’s just something free and beautiful about basketball. I cherish everything about my being in the game and I’m going to treasure , I hope, by sitting back and being a huge fan and supporter of not only the Bellarmine team but the sports in the area.
“I have a bucket list of college places I want to go to see sports. I remember watching a game with my father at The Palestra (in Philadelphia) in the 1980s. I think that was the last coveted college game location I went to. ,
Schneider’s own son, Noah, was on Bellarmine’s varsity team last season. Noah will be senior in the fall.
“He’s happy for me,” Schneider said. “He is focused on becoming a better player like all other returnees. I’ll be glad to be in the stands, just enjoying things. ,
Schneider left Bellarmine basketball as the all-time winning coach of the West Catholic Athletic League, a difference he said was held by his own high school coach, Bob Drucker, while coaching at St. Ignatius from 1966 to 1986.
As he reflected on his own coaching career, Schneider remembered that his first league game in 1992 was at St. Ignatius.
Drucker was present that night.
“Bob came over and said, ‘Hey, Patrick, just remember, it’s 10 guys in shorts and tank tops in the dead of winter,'” Schneider recalled. “good advice.”
Before deciding to step down, Schneider was engaged to a friend and longtime rival, former St. Francis coach Steve Filios. Their teams had epic battles over the years, but the men share a mutual respect for each other and the sport.
Schneider asked Philios how he knew it was time to move on.
“He said I asked myself every year, ‘Do I have the energy that the players need?’
“As I reflect more, I don’t,” Schneider said.
So next winter, for the first time in three decades, Bellarmine’s basketball sideline will have a different coach in charge.
“The thing I imagine will be hardest for me,” Schneider said, “is the internal clock that says, ‘Time to go to the gym to exercise. It’s November.'”