Shortly before the Eagles' Class 2A softball victory over Woodlan, Chuck Schroeder of Greencastle was honored as the 2011 recipient of the Interscholastic Athletic Official Association Award for softball.
A few hours later, Schroeder was back on the Ben Davis softball field, umpiring the Class 4A contest between Carmel and Avon.
Even with the excitement of the 4A game -- Carmel won 1-0 on an eighth-inning walk-off double -- and his pride at the award, Schroeder was most excited to see a championship come to Putnam County.
"I would have given up my award to have South Putnam win, that's how excited I was, more for them than for myself," Schroeder said.
As a fan of a good game, Schroeder said his biggest regret was not seeing the conclusion of the Eagles' extra-inning win. He had to excuse himself early to prepare for the 4A game.
"The worst thing for me was I had to leave in the sixth inning when they had all that excitement going on because I had to get dressed. I couldn't get over there and I missed it all," he said.
Schroeder's enthusiasm comes as no surprise to those who know him, especially his wife Ruth.
"Officiating is something that he has loved to do. Even when we first moved to Greencastle and we didn't have children, he was always involved over at the Armory with youth baseball," Ruth said.
It is this joy and passion for athletics that helped get Schroeder where he is today as an honored official. He first got involved with Putnam County sports as an organizer of Greencastle's men's softball league in the mid-'70s.
Having played, coached and organized, Schroeder got behind the mask as an umpire in 1983.
"Mike Rokicki got me involved with doing some officiating in '83. From there, it just went on and I got to enjoy doing this stuff," Schroeder said.
Over the years, Schroeder has maintained a good rapport with coaches, understanding that emotions run high. In nearly 30 years as an umpire, he has kicked only two people out of games, and neither was a head coach.
"On the upper levels, it's all about wins and losses with the coaches. If a guy gets mad at me, let him get mad at me," Schroeder said. "I'm not one of those officials who gets upset with a coach when he gets mad because if I was a coach, I'd get really mad if a call went one way or the other."
Mark Miller, who is Schroeder's officiating partner a majority of the time, said it is Schroeder's level head and consistency that earned him the honors he's received.
"Officials make mistakes, but you never really have to worry about Chuck goofing up. You just feel really confident. He's always in position. He's very fair," Miller said.
The award, along with working the title game, are proof that Miller isn't the only one who's noticed such professionalism. The award is based on the votes of other officials. Working the championship game springs from the positive ratings of coaches throughout the season.
"It's good to get the recognition from both sides at the same time. I probably have achieved what I'm after," Schroeder said. "Everything else now is just a matter of enjoying. I always try to strive for the best, and once you achieve that, you at least want to maintain it."
"I think part of it is Chuck's personality. He gets along with people and builds a good rapport with coaches," Miller said. "For Chuck, it's more than a game. It's about friendships and relationships. I think that has a lot to do with it."
Schroeder has also noticed the downside of building those good relationships. Over the years, he's come to consider many coaches and athletic directors his friends. While he doesn't let that affect his calls, it also doesn't make the calls any easier.
"I think what I really struggle with right now is when I have a game with two friends," Schroeder said. "It gets me anxious, not because of the game, but because I'm dealing with two friends. And one of them is going to walk away with the loss."
Despite his worries about friends, Ruth figures umpiring has just the opposite effect on her husband.
"It keeps him young," she said. "He enjoys it and I'm happy for him."