ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) – For the first time in Trine University’s 137-year history the school will be represented at the Olympics as 2016 graduate Joe Schroeder will suit up for the U.S. Olympic men’s rugby sevens team in Tokyo.
A Westfield, Indiana native and a graduate of Cathedral High School, Schroeder’s road to the Olympics is anything but traditional.
While he played club rugby in the Indianapolis area during high school, he decided to attend Trine University because of its strong civil engineering program. The only problem was that Trine didn’t have a rugby team. Instead, Schroeder his athletic prowess and became a cheerleader at Trine. As a lifter for the Trine cheer squad, Schroeder says he added a great deal of strength and muscle that helped him succeed when he eventually got back on the rugby pitch at a stout 6-foot-5, 235 pounds.
After graduating from Trine in 2016 Schroeder moved to Columbus, Ohio to begin working for an engineering company. While in Columbus he took up the sport of rugby again, and eventually was discovered by the U.S. Olympic coaching staff. Schroeder then moved to Chula Vista, California to train with the USA Rugby 7s at an Olympic training facility. While in California he earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from Ohio University.
For Schroeder, it wasn’t until recently that the Olympics became a possible dream, as the sport didn’t return to the games until 2016. As for the sevens version of rugby, it is a bit different than the traditional version of the sport. In sevens each team only sports seven players on the pitch at a time, with two seven-minute halves. The game is much quicker than traditional rugby, though they play on the same size field as the 15-on-15 versions. In sevens, teams will play multiple games in a day due to the brevity of a single contest.
Schroeder and the USA Rugby 7s are set to leave for Japan on July 13 and will spent about a week getting used to the time difference and climate while holding a training camp in Mimasaka. They’ll report to Tokyo in time for the opening ceremonies on July 23 with competition set for July 26-28. The U.S. will face Ireland, South Africa, and Kenya in pool play.
Schroeder’s ties to northeast Indiana don’t stop at Trine University. His family has vacation home off Round Lake in Columbia City and says growing up he spent many weekends in Whitley County.