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A Jacket Baseball Reunion for 2015 Graduate

                It’s been six years since Dylan Schneider pitched for the black and gold, but he was back last week working with future players as a guest coach at Jacket Summer Baseball Camp.

                “This was my first year to help and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Schneider said. “Seeing the younger kids on the field reminded me of my early days in baseball. I began playing when I was probably four. I had so much fun throwing the ball against the wall and playing catch with myself. I fell in love with the game then.”

                The 2015 Cleburne graduate, who continued his playing career at The University of Texas at Arlington, is now an assistant baseball coach at Brock High School. In just his second season in coaching, Schneider has already experienced his first state tournament, with the 3A Eagles advancing to the semi-final round of the 2021 baseball playoffs.

                “It was kind of cool taking those first steps into Round Rock Stadium. I’ve been to a lot of great places in my personal career, but I got the same butterflies as the kids,” Schneider said. “We went to the state tournament because of how good our kids were. We were that good because our kids were that good.”

                When Schneider left Cleburne for college, a career in education was not in his game plan. He started out as a kinesiology and general studies major, but in his last innings of college, with a Bachelor’s Degree in sight, Schneider began to evaluate his career possibilities.

                “My senior year, I began to really think about my future,” he said. “I had been invited to help coach in the Stix baseball program and I really liked it. Then the door opened with an opportunity to coach at Brock.”

                In his senior year at Cleburne High School, Coach Ross Taylor had pitched the idea of a coaching career to Schneider.

                “In my exit meeting with Coach Taylor, he said I should consider being a coach,” Schneider said. “He told me I would be a good one. That really stuck with me. I thought then, and now, that was very powerful to see that possibility and promise in an 18 year-old still wet behind the ears.”

                Taylor remembers that conversation, and is very pleased to see the former Jackets pitcher back on the baseball diamond as a fellow coach. In his 30-plus years in education, Taylor has seen at least 12 of his players choose the coaching profession. That includes two of his current assistants, Colby Braddock and German Hernandez, and Wheat Middle School Assistant Principal Ryan Stepp, a past member of the Jackets coaching roster. All are CHS graduates.

                “Dylan was great for us,” Taylor said. “While he was here, he set a school record for wins. He knows the game and has a good demeanor around kids. To get to the state tournament at his age, and at this time in his career, is pretty huge. We’ve enjoyed having him help at our camp this year. It’s been one of our best.”

                Schneider says a lot of who he is in his new role of coach, was inspired by Taylor.

                “A lot of times I catch myself laughing at a kid doing something I used to do,” he said. “I think to myself, ‘man, if Coach Taylor saw me doing that, he would have got me.’ Coach Taylor could humble me when no one else could, and that’s taken me a long way. In my first year of college ball, I saw the impact of all he taught us. He was so right in what he tried to instill in us. Sometimes, you just have to step back and see the big picture. Coach Taylor cares enough to tell you the truth.”

                Schneider says his playing days at the college level are also major contributors to who he is as a coach.

                “I always wanted to play at the highest level I could, and UT-Arlington gave me that experience,” he said. “As a pitcher, I got to go up against some high caliber teams. I learned so much from guys who could play the game, on the field and in their head, at a very high level. They really impacted who I was as a player, and now as a coach.”        

                Schneider’s passion for coaching also encompasses his work with students in the classroom.

                “I work with our Special Education students and I can’t see me being anywhere else,” he said. “I just fell in love with it. The kids are so excited to see you—they just show you love. I love the opportunity to get to know each kid individually and to learn what makes them tick, how to help them and to know what works and what doesn’t. Every day I have the chance to play baseball with one of the kids in our program, and I’m grateful for that. It gives me a few moments to be a big kid.”

                As he begins his third year on faculty at BHS, Schneider is past his rookie status. He believes he provides a unique role with his players, as it wasn’t that long ago he was in their shoes.

                “They like my music,” he said. “And I get a lot of questions from them about college baseball as well as the day-to-day things, from troubles with their car or their girlfriend to problems at home. It’s easy for me to be there for them. Their high school problems are still fresh in my mind.”

                “I love being their coach,” Schneider said. “To me, it feels awesome to be respected enough to want my advice and opinion. I especially want to show them how to be a successful ball player--one who gets some real playing on time. College, as a student and an athlete, can be a struggle at times. When I was at UTA, I wanted to see it through and worked hard to get in a good spot with an opportunity to play.”

                Schneider continues to make Jackets baseball games when his schedule permits. His brother, Cooper, who is a senior at CHS, will be starting his fourth season on the team.

                “I never dreamed this is what I would be doing with my life,” he said. “For me, being able to coach and work in the classroom with some great kids isn’t a job. I don’t see it as work—it’s something I get to do. At the age of 24, I’m still getting to go out every day and play catch on the field.”