After 18 months, the consensus is he’s the hardest worker in the Ball State Football program. But he doesn’t touch the field on game day. In fact, he doesn’t have much of a role during practices either. He’s a behind-the-scenes guy, and he likes it that way.
“I don’t want to be in front of a camera. The last thing I want to do is actually [be interviewed], to be honest,” he said.
His name is Robert Schmidt, or as players and coaches call him, “Schmidty.”
So, who is Schmidt? It’s a question Director of Strength and Conditioning Ben Armer said is “loaded.”
For starters, Schmidt is a graduate assistant on the football team’s strength and conditioning staff from Brooklyn, New York. As far as what he does, it depends on the day.
On a daily basis, he weighs in the players, sets up and cleans down the weight room, helps players during lifting sessions and organizes data. He is also what head coach Mike Neu describes as the team’s spark plug. Armer calls him the Energizer bunny.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 9 o’clock at night, it doesn’t matter if it’s 6 o’clock in the morning,” Armer said. “You’re going to get the same effort, you’re going to get the same attitude, you’re going to get the same everything every day. I think that’s why there’s respect across the board for him because there is no off button.”
Schmidt said that’s just who he is, and he goes above and beyond his everyday duties to help improve and develop the players.
“I’m here for any of the athletes’ needs. They’re first, no ego or anything like that,” Schmidt said. “Anything anybody needs, I’m willing to do. There’s no job beneath me.”
During fall camp, Schmidt was asked to throw a yellow flag in the air after Neu’s whistle on every play. It was designed to make sure players kept running two seconds after the flag was thrown.
“Nobody loves their job more than Robert Schmidt does,” Neu said. “He loved that role. He embraced it. He’s running up and down the field going crazy. He took a couple falls because of it, but he loved every second of it.”
When the film was shown in each team meeting, Schmidt’s role became something every player and coach appreciated.
“Coach Neu is showing clips of him just going crazy throwing his flags and the enthusiasm he had about it,” Armer said. “He’s got the entire team meeting room going nuts. The players are all clapping and having a great time watching how hard he’s working at something people don’t think is very significant. But that’s his role, and he’s taken complete ownership of it.”
Schmidt doesn’t view what he’s doing as anything special. To him, it’s his responsibility to help the team any way he can.
“I pride myself on not being outworked,” Schmidt said. “A person I respect and look up to told me, ‘Your athletes don’t really care what you know or how much you know until they know how much you actually care about them.’”
It’s that team-first attitude that has earned him the respect of the players from day one on the job in April 2018.
“He has such a contagious personality. Guys loved him immediately,” Armer said. “His personality is off the charts. For a room like ours where guys spend more time with the strength staff than with anybody else, when you have somebody like that on your staff, that only makes everybody grow a little bit closer together.”
Schmidt was hired at Ball State by happenstance. He had met Armer at a coaching clinic in New York about two and a half years ago. They met up again when Schmidt accompanied his head coach at Defiance College on a trip to Ball State for a meeting. It just so happened that Armer’s assistant at the time got an internship with the Indianapolis Colts that same day.
Two days later, Schmidt was offered the position, and he was “1,000 percent” on board. He said he’s been grateful for the opportunity ever since.
“It’s great to be a part of a family,” Schmidt said. “To me, it doesn’t really matter if I’m at the Division I level or the highest level. I want to feel like I’m part of a family, and I really do feel that here.”