In our ongoing attempt to widen our readers’ knowledge of some of Beloit’s “power sports families” today’s dissertation involves the Schmale family.
As Kevin Schmale says, “We never got a lot of notoriety, but that’s OK. That’s not why we did it. It’s nice to be remembered, though.”
The Schmale family tree reveals multi-sport athletes, dedicated coaches and even decorated servicemen. Not to mention some devoted moms who coordinated it all.
Like many Beloit athletes Kevin and Jeff Schmale had their first organized sports experience in Little League playing for the Dodgers. Their father, Wayne, coached the pair, who were a year apart with Jeff being the older sibling. The batboy, Jeff Hanaman, would one day marry their sister, Maridee. A son, Justin “Ace” Hanaman, would score the biggest goal in Beloit Memorial High School hockey history in 1999.
That would be getting way ahead of ourselves.
We start with Wayne Schmale, who was born in 1925 and his brother Laverne, or “Vern,” who was born two years later.
While Wayne didn’t compete competitively in school, he participated in recreational sports and attended Clemson University. He was involved in sports at the Wagon Wheel and with “Pop House” teams and he served in the Army Air Corps as a pilot in 1945-46.
While he coached the Dodgers, his good friend Ethan Hanaman guided the rival Cardinals. Like we said, there was always a strong bond between the Schmales and Hanamans.
Wayne also was an avid bowler and golfer, rolling his “Rocket” bowling ball in leagues at the old Bonnie Bee Lanes on the corner of Park and Henry. He golfed at the municipal course with cronies Jim Haase, best friend Bob Tilley and others. After retiring as president of Durst Corporation in Shopiere he moved to Crescent City, Fla., where he passed away while golfing on April 11, 1989.
Vern Schmale, who died March 15, 2015, was all-conference in football at UW-Whitewater and went on to become a head coach at Kenosha Bradford High School and later Kenosha Tremper in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a good friend of Beloit Memorial head coach John Heineke. In 1968, Tremper embarrassed the Knights in Kenosha when Kevin Schmale was at quarterback. Kevin remembers his family spending the night in Kenosha and having to listen to a critique of his performance that was painful, yet helpful.
Vern won three titles during the first four years of the Southeast Conference. He retired from coaching in 1974 and spent a lot of time playing golf, recording three holes-in-one.
• Wayne and Vern had two sisters, Madee and Beverly. Madee’s son, Bill McGill, was an accomplished athlete. At Roosevelt Junior High he played football, basketball and ran track.
After suffering a knee injury in preseason workouts he missed the 1961 BMHS football season. He did play jayvee basketball and ran track. In 1962, he played quarterback and defensive back on a BMHS team that featured KC Jones. The Knights were 5-3.
Over the winter, he played guard for Bernie Barkin on a 12-5 team that eventually lost to Eau Claire in the WIAA state tournament. He was also class president.
As a senior, Bill played QB for the 6-1 Knights and he was co-captain as well as homecoming king. Beloit finished as conference co-champions.
He again played guard on a 12-6 basketball team that returned to state before again falling to Eau Claire in the state quarterfinals. They went 1-1 in the consolation bracket.
Bill tried to walk on to the University of Colorado football team, but was told he was too small. So he led in his intramural football team to back-to-back championships. Actually, he played about every intramural sport offered from 1963-67.
Bill entered the US Navy in 1967 and attended Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla.. He went on to become a carrier qualified Naval Aviator.
After his time in the Navy, Bill lived in Colorado for 35 years, where he played competitive fastpitch, slowpitch and handball before hip, knee and shoulder replacement caused him to try something else. He switched to cycling, usually riding about 2,500 miles or more during a season in the Rockies. He rode a 500-mile, weeklong trek across Iowa as well as a one-day, 122-mile ride through the Rockies.
Bill returned to the Beloit area six years ago and still routinely rides.
Beverly’s son, Jim Perkins, was a great player for Beloit Catholic High School and went on to become an athletic director for the Elgin High School system while another son, Joe, was an outstanding lineman and 1968 graduate from BCHS. He still farms in Beloit.
Vern’s daughter Lynn (Jurvis) studied at Carthage College, ASU and UW-Madison, She coached Kenosha High School women’s soccer.
Jeff Schmale went from playing for his dad in Little League to playing Pony League as a Giant. He was a backup catcher for the American Legion team. In high school, he wrestled at the 185 pound and heavyweight divisions and threw the discus in track.
Football was his best sport. He was the diamond in the rough on a 1967 team that dropped its first six games before winning its last two. He and Ed Ross were co-captains as the Knights throttled Janesville Craig, 41-6. A 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, Jeff played offensive guard and defensive nose tackle. He had 18 tackles against Craig alone.
In Beloit’s finale, Jeff had 16 tackles and three fumble recoveries in a 14-5 win over Madison Memorial. He earned All-Big Eight First Team honors at defensive line. He was named to the Associated Press All-State Second Team.
Jeff received over 60 college scholarship offers but instead enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He was offered the opportunity to play football at Annapolis for the Navy, but declined.
After his service, he returned to Beloit in 1972 and was the first Beloit Paramedic along with his fishing buddy Jim Cheadle.
A footnote: Jeff’s daughter Krisdee Schmale was an All-State first baseman for IRMO High School in Columbia, S.C.. She later became administrative assistant for football coach Lou Holtz for the South Carolina Gamecocks for three years.
Jeff’s brother Kevin followed him to the Pony League Giants where he hit his one and only home run off Bruce Foss. In 1985, he and Foss were golfing in the same foursome at Krueger-Haskell when each recorded a hole-in-one on separate holes.
After playing three sports at Aldrich, Kevin played tennis, golf and wrestled in high school, but football was his favorite. He started out as a running back and cornerback and ended up a quarterback.
He and Marv Healless were co-captains in 1968 when Beloit knocked off Janesville, 14-7. He threw two touchdown passes to Randy Finnegan in a 21-6 victory over Madison Central and two more the following week in a 28-13 win over Kenosha Bradford.
“We had a young team and we struggled that season,” Kevin remembers of the 3-5 campaign. “We did have some talent, though, with players like Dave Kilgore, Healless and Chico Wells.”
The best game he remembers was in 1967 against Madison East. Starting QB Dale Poland was injured and he came in in relief.
“I played well and my brother was ticked off because scouts were there to watch him,” said Kevin, who is handing the football off to Jeff Hanaman in a photo in the 1969 Beloiter.
Kevin graduated that spring and went to UW-Lacrosse to play football, but flunked his physical due to health issues caused by rheumatic fever in the seventh grade. His football career over in 1970, he was eligible to play a non-contact sport so he focused on gymnastics.
After graduation, he raised a family and moved into coaching and officiating youth sports in the 1980’s and 90’s.
“I never played youth hockey because there wasn’t a program,” Kevin said. “I got into it when the Hanamans got into it. I learned more and more about the game and ended up coaching and refereeing. I actually got a letter from the NHL when their referees were on strike asking if I wanted to try out. I was a Level 4 USA Hockey official at that point. But I declined. I just wasn’t fast enough.”
He refereed youth, high school and Division III college games for 12 years. Eventually he was the referee in charge of scheduling for the Beloit Youth Hockey Association.
It’s no wonder Kevin’s son, Chris Schmale, made his mark in hockey. Not that he didn’t play a lot of other sports, starting with Cub Scout softball at Morgan School. He played Little League, Pony and Colt League baseball, Pop Warner football and hockey with the BYHA Blades.
In high school he played football with the Knights and was a backup QB his sophomore and junior years.
He played for a pair of head coaches in hockey—Dave Witting in 1993-94 and John Mauermann in 1994-95 and 1995-96.
“Chris wasn’t a star player, but he knew the game inside and out,” Kevin said. “That’s what made him so valuable.”
After graduation, he played college hockey at UW-W from 1996-2000. He was a senior when “Ace” Hanaman was a freshman. Whitewater won the GLHA regular season championship and returned to the AHA national tournament for the first time in decade.
His playing days over, Chris turned to coaching. He was an assistant under Greg Weum for the 2000-01 season and was promoted to head coach in 2001-02 at he age 22. Chris coached his cousin, Ace, for two years, one as an assistant and the next year as head coach. Hanaman was already well-known for having scored the winning goal in Beloit Memorial’s state championship final with Stevens Point. Like Ethan Hanaman and Steve Hanaman, he was destined to become a member of the Beloit Historical Society’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Ace was a player and Chris served as a staff member under Joe Battista for Team USA in the 2002 World University Games.
In 2002-2003 Chris became an assistant coach for SUNY-Morrisville and went on a European tour to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Morrisville won the Eastern Junior College Hockey League conference title and was national runnerup.
In 2003-2005, Chris was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Penn State under Battista and coached in 2 ACHA Division 1 National title games. Both times his team was runnerup.
In 2005 he moved to Iowa State and helped head coach Al Murdock post back-to-back 30 win seasons, capturing the 2007 Central States Collegiate Hockey League tournament title, and make back to back national quarterfinal appearances in the ACHA Division 1 national tournament.
Chris became the head coach for Ames’ high school hockey program in 2007, and held that post until 2013. The program returned to the high school state tournament in 2011-12 season. From April 2015 to July 2017 he served as the president of the Ames Minor Hockey Association before resigning to return to coach the high school program again from 2017-2019.
Chris was also the head coach (2009-2012) for the Midwest Affiliate’s Chicago Showcase team.
He is currently a Vice President of the Executive committee for USA Hockey’s Midwest Affiliate which governs Amateur Hockey in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. He is also a coaching instructor for the Midwest affiliate, and part of USA Hockey’s coaching education program.
During his tenure Chris has been part of six conference titles and three national runner-ups.
“My son has been a very successful coach,” Kevin said. “I think that’s a real highlight in the family history.”
Well so far, anyway.