Spectators at VASJ football games this season will notice a new addition to the Viking football helmets.
Each helmet is now emblazoned with a decal sporting the initials “TS” in honor of legendary Coach Tom Schoen ’64. Schoen, who passed away in February, was a longtime assistant football coach, head coach and athletic director at St. Joseph High School and VASJ. The colors of the circular decal represent both VASJ and the University of Notre Dame, where Schoen played college football and was selected as an All-American his senior year.
Schoen’s wife, Mary, and his son, Tommy, visited VASJ the afternoon of Aug. 17 to meet with the Viking football team. Each player then brought up his helmet to have a member of the Schoen family apply the decal.
Chuck Kortovich ’95, with the help of his brother-in-law, came up with the idea for the helmet decals. The original design was a shamrock with the initials “TS” in black to mourn coach’s passing. However, after hearing stories at Schoen’s funeral about how much VASJ and Notre Dame meant to the late coach, Kortovich switched the design to the dual red and gold colors on the decal to represent the two schools.
“I asked our Coach Brandon McDowell, who played for Schoen, if he thought the colors were too much for the purpose of what we were trying to do. He had an answer that will always stick with me: ‘Coach Schoen led a life you celebrate; you do not mourn it.’”
VASJ assistant football coach Johnnie Lemons then had the idea to invite the Schoen family to the school to distribute the decals to the players, making this recognition a true team effort.
“Tom Schoen is the greatest Viking of all time, and the passion he had for our school is still alive today through his family, his friends and all of the players he coached,” Kortovich said. “The impact he had on VASJ is at the core of why this school and community is so special. This helmet decal is just a small way we can honor a man who gave so much to Viking football. Thank you, Coach. We miss you!”