Less than two months after a text alerting his sister, Linda Rourke, that he was in the hospital with an infection requiring surgery, Tommie CarlinSchauer, known locally as “Coach Tommie,” 57, died Dec. 18, of cancer in Green Bay, Wis.
CarlinSchauer was born in St. Paul, Minn., in 1957, and raised in Roseville, Minn. Throughout his high school and college years, he was an avid soccer and hockey player. After college, he traveled to Europe, pursuing his passion for soccer. That experience changed his understanding of the game and helped create his future love for coaching, according to Rourke.
“’Coach Tommie, as most knew him, spent most of his life sharing his love and passion with thousands of youth and adults,” said Rourke, a longtime teacher and counselor at Homer Middle School, who in 2008 saw an advertisement in the Homer News for a summer soccer coordinator. She sent a copy of the ad to her brother, who applied and was hired the following summer.
“Homer became his second home, where he became close friends with so many people,” said Rourke. “
CarlinSchauer spent six summers as the Homer Soccer Association coach-administrator. He worked off and on for Community Mental Health, spent one winter as a teacher’s aide at Chapman School and, in 2008, was the Kevin Bell Ice Arena manager.
Shortly after being hired as the rink manager, CarlinSchauer told the Homer News in an interview that he appreciated the help from others to become acclimated to the area, as well as the job.
“I’m very happy to be in Homer,” he said at the time.
CarlinSchauer was the full-time summer soccer coordinator for the Soccer Association of Homer, joining the program when it had outgrown its volunteer origins, according to Tom Kizzia, who served on the SAH board that hired him.
CarlinSchauer infused the game with big changes, and for six years, beginning in 2008, ran the summer recreational program and organized, as well as coached, competitive travel teams. He loved to scrimmage with the older players and discuss “European-style football” strategies, but also found some of his greatest enjoyment teaching soccer to 4- and 5-year-olds in the Little Feet program, said Kizzia.
In addition to his summer involvement with SAH, CarlinSchauer coached Homer Middle School soccer teams in the fall and Homer High School girls’ varsity in the spring.
“He worked long hours for little pay, but his energy and enthusiasm were so great that all you had to do was nudge him and he took off,” said Kizzia. “He was a lovable and occasionally exasperating chatterbox. His first summer, he didn’t have a car and he would bicycle from field to field balancing a huge brailer bag of soccer balls like some Third World fruit vendor. In later summers his little white Mercedes was a rolling office packed with coffee cups, jerseys and corner flags, notable around town for the giant inflatable soccer ball he kept strapped to the roof.”
Even though he had moved to and was coaching in Green Bay, CarlinSchauer maintained his contact and support of athletes he had coached in Homer and elsewhere.
“A few years ago, he had driven hundreds of miles from Green Bay to South Dakota to watch (a) former Homer High School soccer player in college games, always a devoted and caring coach, inspiring those he worked with not only to play well, but to be responsible and caring people,” said Rourke.
Even after being admitted to the hospital, he asked Rourke to contact athletes whose progress he had been following and explain why he was not attending their games.
Many recent players on the Homer High School boys’ varsity soccer team, who had remarkable success against Alaska’s biggest high schools, credit CarlinSchauer’s early coaching as a key to their development.
“(He) was a character, but he was really passionate about coaching and mentoring,” said Grant Arseneau, who played goalie for the team that won two of three games at the 2012 big-school state tournament. “He was simultaneously dedicated and serious, goofy and fun loving, and always ready to lend a hand.”
On Oct. 28, Rourke received the text from her brother that he had been hospitalized. A few days later, he was diagnosed with cancer that was treatable, but not curable. Wanting to begin treatment as soon as possible, CarlinSchauer hoped to visit Homer in the summer to connect with family and friends and maybe do some kayaking. However, that was not to be.
“Fifty-two short days after that initial text, Tommie passed peacefully with his two children and multiple siblings nearby,” said Rourke.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mclibben.jackinsky@Homernews.com. Tom Kizzia also contributed to this story.