Class of 1979
Sports fans occasionally will hear the expression: ‘She’s like having a coach on the field.’
No one perhaps in New Milford High School athletic history has better personified that expression than Mary Schneider, a Sherman School product who excelled for Green Wave field hockey, basketball and softball.
Fran Zaloski, Mary’s softball coach for several years and field hockey coach throughout Mary’s four seasons at NMHS, said: “Mary is a fantastic athlete to coach. She takes in everything and does everything well.”
After playing junior varsity field hockey in her freshman year, Mary proceeded to play an integral role for Green Wave varsity teams for 11 straight seasons, contributing mightily as her teams built a remarkable 126-56-5 record.
The duration of her prominence and excellence is perhaps unequalled in NMHS annals, even to the point that rival coaches would kid Mary about it as she neared graduation in the spring of 1979.
At the close of her final softball season, Mary said: “I feel like I’ve been playing sports at New Milford High for six or seven years… coaches even come up to me and ask if I keep staying back.”
A three-season letter winner in field hockey, she was taking penalty corner hits for coach Zaloski by early in her sophomore season and played a role as the Green Wave posted an 8-5-2 record. Mary became a key veteran with the team by her junior season, which produced a 9-4-1 record.
Her senior field hockey campaign proved memorable for Mary as co-captain, and for the Green Wave program. She earned all-WCC honors as the Green Wave posted a 10-2-2 regular season and went on to beat Masuk, 1-0, for the league championship.
Coach Zaloski and Co. then won state class ‘L’ tournament games over Farmington, Rippowam and two-time defending champion E.O. Smith, the latter a 1-0 verdict when Mary scored an overtime goal to advance the Green Wave to its first state championship match.
Cheshire dashed the NMHS girls’ state title dream, 1-0, but Mary and her teammates still proudly closed the books on a 14-3-2 season during which they had outscored their foes by a cumulative 50-11 margin.
Mary’s NMHS basketball career opened as a freshman under the spotlight. Having earned varsity playing time with several games of 20 points or more for the JV team, she came off the bench in the Green Wave’s state tournament opener with six points and tight defense to lead a 28-25 conquest of Watertown.
Her three full seasons on the NMHS hardcourt resulted in a 42-20 record for the Green Wave, with Mary as the point guard, go-to scorer, defensive ace and on-court leader. She earned all-WCC second team as a sophomore and all-WCC first team as a junior and senior, both times ranking as the top vote-getter in the league. She also served two seasons as co-captain and was a two-time MVP.
Mary scored 275 points in her senior year to establish a school record. She finished her NMHS basketball career with a then-record 627 points, all the while dishing out many assists.
Each year from 1976 to 1979 when springtime rolled around, Mary would pack away her basketball gear and display an impressive set of skills for softball. Her contributions helped lift the Green Wave to a 52-23 record during her career. She twice earned all-WCC honors.
Rather diminutive as a freshman, Mary nevertheless quickly acclimated to the challenge of playing catcher, directing the defense and displaying deft glovework; for three seasons, she anchored the Green Wave from behind the plate, before switching as a senior to be the Green Wave’s fulltime pitcher.
Her portside batting skills were every bit the equal of her defensive talents. Mary stroked 10 hits in her first three games as a freshman, added two doubles, a triple and drew walks to lead a 23-1 state tournament win over New Fairfield, and finished her rookie year with a .448 batting average.
Her offensive production never slowed its pace. During her sophomore year, the girls shared the WCC title with Mary playing a key role. She sparked one late-season win over Joel Barlow with five straight hits.
Coach Glenn Schiraldi handed the ball to Mary to serve as pitcher for her senior season at NMHS, and she responded in style. The Green Wave posted an overall 15-5 record, including three state tournament wins, and Mary went down swinging in her final NMHS performance with four hits, a sacrifice fly and four RBIs during a 17-14 state semifinal defeat to Mercy.
She closed the books on her final campaign with a .507 batting average, slightly below her phenomenal .533 career average, built on 133 hits in 246 official at bats.
Coach Schiraldi aptly summed up what fellow coaches and teammates felt about Mary when she graduated NMHS: “She’s an incredibly helpful girl, very selfless. A person like her is just a great athlete and tremendous human being.”