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  • Steve Navaroli

A big loss, but we were lucky to know him

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

The York-Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association and its predecessors have been viable high school sports leagues for many decades.

Yet, if those of us that have been around the league for any length of time are honest, we knew that one man’s contributions helped make the league what it is today.

We lost that man last week when Herb Schmidt passed away at the age of 90. In fact, all of York and Adams Counties and beyond lost one of the biggest proponents of high school athletics.

And many of us lost a great friend.

Personally, I can smile when I know that Herb passed in his sleep, peacefully. After all, his death came more than three decades after he overcame a massive heart attack, a survival that defied the odds.

He always joked that he was living on bonus time, knowing he cheated death - something he always said with that wry smile we all loved so much. His one son once said, "my dad was too stubborn to die" and I for one take a lot of heart knowing he went his way last week.

Rest assured, Herb made the most of his time here. As a long-time teacher, coach, administrator and executive director of the YAIAA, Herb loved sports. He wanted school-age kids to participate in athletics and other activities. He was passionate about it.

While serving more than 20-plus years with the league, he did more and impacted more lives than most of us will ever know. And more than he ever wanted credit for.

Herb did not do it for fame, or glory, or to even take credit. He did it because he felt it needed to get done and the league benefited because of his work tremendously.

The only thing Herb struggled with was retirement. Although it’s not certain how much he truly retired. Even after he stepped down from his post leading the YAIAA, Herb could be found helping at District 3 events such as swimming, diving and track.

Speaking of track, Herb loved the sport, starting a unique relay event six decades ago that continued through 2019 (it was canceled like everything else in the spring of 2020). The Suburban Relays rightfully had its name changed to the Herb Schmidt Relays – a deserved honor for the humble man.

On top of his work, once you got to know him, you knew an amazing person that would do anything for you. He had a personality that he may have kept hidden sometimes, but once you found it, you treasured the person that was Herb.

I will miss the monthly lunches - complete with craft beer flights - that he and I shared the last several years. More than that, I will just miss talking to the guy.

Herb Schmidt was a great man, who lived a long and tremendous life. He was also one of my very best friends.

With no idea how to close this tribute, I will make it simple: So long Herbie. You will be missed.

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