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With Loyola 15 points behind in the late fourth quarter, head coach Jeremy Schoenecker hopes for a miracle comeback in the IHSA Class 4A semi-final game on Friday, March 2, 2012 in Normal. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
One of the most difficult days of Jeremy Schoenecker's life came Dec. 8 when he learned of his mother's sudden death.
Two days later, the Loyola coach girls basketball coach won his 100th career game, all with the Ramblers, where's been since the 2008-09 season. The celebration was muted, though, as Schoenecker left Regina's gym after the 50-38 victory to be with family.
"I know it was bittersweet for him," said junior guard Maggie Nick, a two-year varsity player. "It was awesome to get him that win. But at our Christmas party Saturday he talked about it not all being about wins and losses and basketball. It's about the relationships you form.
"We are so much like a family, and I think it was helpful for him to be with the team that day."
In fact, on the day of Joyce Schoenecker's passing, her son coached the Ramblers against Evanston. Jeremy Schoenecker missed out on his first chance at No. 100 with a 53-41 loss to the Wildkits, who entered this week undefeated and ranked No. 14 by the Sun-Times.
"It was one of those things that I know my mom would have wanted me to go out there," he said. "She always rooted for our team. But coaching Saturday was the roughest thing I've ever done in my life."
Schoenecker was back on the bench Dec. 10 for the team's GCAC Red contest against the Panthers. After not mentioning anything about it before the Evanston game, Loyola assistant coach Jon Wolfe told Schoenecker about the milestone prior to the tipoff against Regina.
"I really had no clue," said Schoenecker, whose club came into this week 6-5 overall and 2-0 in conference play. "It never dawned on me. I knew I was close after last season."
Loyola senior Anna Schueler has been with Schoenecker for more than half of the 100 wins. A three-year varsity veteran, the guard has been party to 54 of the 100 victories, including last season's 26-9 campaign when the Ramblers finished fourth in Class 4A.
"It's an incredible accomplishment, and he deserves every bit of it because he's an amazing coach," Schueler said. "But there wasn't much going on after the game because he left so quickly. We know he wasn't himself. He was really hurting."
Schueler agreed with Nick about the closeness of the Ramblers. She said Schoenecker cultivated that togetherness when he arrived at the school from Faith, Hope & Charity grammar school in Winnetka.
"He always has your back," Schueler said. "You know he has confidence in you, and you want that feeling as a player. He makes it apparent once you're on the team, he's always behind you. That's something everybody on a team wants to have."