Connected to the Main Line

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No matter his duty or destination, Kevin Schneider has always been one to think big in forging his baseball-fueled journey. Never fearful of focusing on fostering means to help players to achieve greatness, the 32-year-old, fresh off a historic campaign with Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., will be heading to Immaculata University to serve as the head coach for the Mighty Macs, a fitting name given his emphasis on enormity.

“I will work to have guys buy in right away to my plan to make us champions,” the Plymouth Meeting occupant said Friday from the South Philadelphia Sports Training facility, 1401 S. 25th St. “This is an excellent opportunity to grow in my love of this game, and I’m excited to share my enthusiasm.”

The former resident of the 700 block of Mountain Street received an offer from the Main Line-situated institution two weeks ago and quickly cogitated on his connection to Neumann-Goretti and the prospect of pursuing new challenges. Contending that such an occasion to catapult a club to greatness does not often fall in one’s lap, he accepted the job and aims, as he has always done, not to acquire personal plaudits but to inspire the pursuit of never-attained goals.

“College is a whole different animal, but I will be as aggressive with my time there as I was during my tenure at Neumann-Goretti,” the ex-Passyunk Square dweller said. “We’ll all put in great effort, and we’ll all grow together. That’s a simple philosophy since we play a team sport, but it can be hard for everything to gel. My goal is helping them to realize the sky’s the limit.”

In selling his charges on the possibility of reaching the celestial dome, Schneider will be looking to encourage the same sort of self-belief that Neumann-Goretti’s athletes nurtured. In guiding the Saints for three seasons, he amassed a 63–13 record, securing three City titles, two Catholic League conquests, and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state championship in June. That most recent triumph certainly enhanced his cachet as a quality leader and helped him to fulfill the supreme promise that he had made to the East Passyunk Crossing school’s overseers when he interviewed to succeed Mike Zolk.

“I’m definitely never going to forget how instrumental Neumann-Goretti has been in helping me to mold talent and be a part of something great,” Schneider, who helped more than a dozen roster members to continue their baseball dreams on the college level, with 2014 alumnus Josh Ockimey also giving him great pride in going professional as a draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, said. “I absolutely fell in love with South Philly because my time there was always more than just about baseball; it was about being a community through relationships and hard work. That’s why saying goodbye was definitely not an easy decision.”

The Garden State product speaks from experience when classifying college preparation as another kind of beast, having starred as a Monmouth University-enrolled reliever and earning the New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association Division I Fireman of the Year honor. Owing to his propensity for pondering huge gains, Schneider wants to make Immaculata administrators grateful for having spent every penny of the $3 million that the school’s baseball field cost. The Mighty Macs advanced to the Colonial States Athletic Conference championship game last season, a program first, thus filling the incoming coach with visions of devising a monumental first season.

“I think it’s a wonderful time to sustain and intensify that momentum,” Schneider said of striving to make miserable their foes’ trips to Chester County. “If I were going to move on from Neumann-Goretti, I also wanted to be somewhere relatively local, so being at Immaculata will definitely let me make good on that wish.”

Even though he will not be instructing South Philly-bred youths anymore, he still will be able to witness the evolution of three of his former contributors, as Neumann-Goretti alums Justin Curtin, Tommy Nardini, and Geno Tripodi play for conference adversary Gwynedd Mercy University. Having already taken some grief from those All-Catholic honorees, he intends to help his future lineup constituents leave those players and many more disappointed when they face the Mighty Macs, whose stadium, interestingly, Schneider is already quite familiar with, as the last two Catholic League title tilts occurred there.

“Anytime something new comes along, yeah, there’s going to be that initial bit of anxiety, but I’m used to putting that aside and doing my job,” the eager figure, whose other leadership roles have included helming the Bubba Baseball Academy, serving as the director of baseball operations at the Maplezone Sports Institute, and working as a partner and the baseball director at Gallagher Baseball/Game Time Performance, said. “I’m excited to make the most of my time at Immaculata. I want to build great relationships akin to the ones that we had at Neumann-Goretti.”

As his valediction to South Philly, Schneider commended its workmanlike identity, with the humility of such an existence sure to be a boon far into the future.

“It humbles you to have such people in your life,” he said. “I’m so thankful to my former players and colleagues. They’re the best in my book.” SPR

Contact Editor Joseph Myers at jmyers@southphillyreview.com.

Kevin Schneider captured six championships during his time with Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School. Photos by Tina Garceau and provided by Kevin Schneider