Steve Schuler reaches summit

Steve Schuler from Milford has had many more highs in his life than lows.

“I’ve always been blessed to have been surrounded by great coaches, players and a wonderful family,” said Schuler, who was inducted on June 22 into the New England College Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

An outstanding high school basketball player at Foran High, where he is third on the all-time list of boys scorers in city history, and the top Lion, Schuler went on to star at St. Joseph’s College of Maine (Standish).

He was twice an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) All-American, and scored 1,457 points in leading coach Rick Simonds’ Monks to a 90-28 record.

Following his senior season, he was named a National Catholic Basketball Tournament All-American. Schuler wrapped up his collegiate career seventh on the all-time scoring list.

Schuler’s now in the midst of a coaching career, which spans close to 20 years. He is currently the head women’s basketball coach at Post University in Waterbury.

With all of those big days in his past, the biggest came when Schuler, along with teammate John Wassenbergh and former St. Joseph assistant coach Jim Graffam were inducted into the New England College Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I remember getting a phone call way back in February from John (Wassenbergh),” Schuler recalled. “He was excited and couldn’t wait to tell me that he was going to be inducted.

“I told him how happy I was for him and that I’d certainly be there for him.”

The next day Schuler’s phone rang and he got the same message.

“We spent three days in Springfield and had a great time,” Schuler said. “It was wonderful being able to take my family (his girl friend Katherine and their children, Kaitlyn and Kensie) with me.

“Getting a chance to see so many former players and coaches was awesome. I’ve been back to St. Joe’s many times. This, however, was so special.”

Graffam, who now coaches in Missouri, recruited Schuler out of Foran. He never, however, got to see him play.

“I was nine points short of scoring my 1,000th point and Coach Graffam planned to see me play one night when we were at Notre Dame of Fairfield,” Schuler said. “He had some trouble finding theschool and walked in right as the game ended.

“We were celebrating a win and my 1,000th point when he introduced himself.

“Two days later, I committed to the school.”

While at St. Joseph, Schuler’s’ teams made two NAIA national tournaments and he was one of several double-digit scorers on a team that liked to play a run-and-gun style.

“During my college career I played against at least four other All-Americans and a whole lot of high-scoring players,” Schuler said.

He remained in Maine after graduating, finding a teaching position.

His stay was temporary, because Schuler got an offer to play professionally with the Connecticut Skyhawks, before moving on to coach at a variety of levels, from middle school, to high school and then to the collegiate level.

As a scholastic coach at Lauralton Hall, Schuler won 71 games in four seasons and was named the 2008 Connecticut Post Coach of the Year.

Schuler moved on to coach the women’s team at New Haven’s Albertus Magnus College. It was a part-time position at a Division III school.

Last August the call came from Post, and Schuler accepted the full-time position at the Division II school

Schuler took over a program that needed to be rebuilt. In his first year, the Eagles had a 12-14 record and advanced to the CACC (Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference) playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

“The school hadn’t won more than eight games in the last eight years,” Schuler said. “I have great student-athletes. We battled our way along despite a slew of injuries. These kids impressed me with their determination.”

Having been around the game on the girls and women’s’ levels for many years, Schuler has seen players make great strides.

“The women are getting just as strong and just as quick as the men are,” Schuler said.

“I wouldn’t have made that statement 20 years ago.”

Schuler is looking forward to his second season at Post. For now, however, he’s still savoring his weekend from back in June.