Clintondale football coach has given back to school for nearly 3 decades

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published September 16, 2016 | Updated September 20, 2016 10:48am

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Clintondale is all athletic director and football coach Dave Schindler knows, and he’d have it no other way.

“I’m lucky to have been here as long as I have,” said Schindler, a 1986 graduate of the 15 Mile school. “I come in here every day, and I love it. This place has been really good to me.”

Schindler, who grew up on Kemp Street in Clinton Township, was a member of the Dragons varsity football team that went 8-1 in 1985 but did not qualify for the postseason.

“We were really good during that time,” Schindler said. “What was bad for us was I believe the playoffs only included eight teams from each class, so even though we had a really good team, we couldn’t even go to the playoffs. That hurt. We were bummed out.”

Schindler left for two years to attend Olivet College. He became a full-time assistant coach in 1990 and was part of a staff that made seven trips to the state playoffs.

Schindler took over the head coaching job in 2005. That means, in some capacity, Schindler has been affiliated with the Clintondale school and football program for more than 30 years.

“I remember being in class as a senior with (Warren Cousino coach) Brad Nettles, and we always talked about taking over a program,” Schindler said. “That was a goal, and we’ve reached it.

“I’m living my dream here. I never thought this would happen, but it did.”

Giving back is what keeps Schindler in the Clintondale community. Wins and losses are nice, sure, but that’s not how the Dragons coach measures his worth or impact. Schindler’s teams have gone 68-39 since he took over the head job, though. He guided Clintondale to Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division titles in 2012 and 2013 too.

“I don’t get caught up in the numbers. A lot of good things have come from me going to school here and being here; now I just want to give back,” said Schindler, who led the team on a 19-game regular season win streak that spanned from the end of the 2012 season through the 2014 season.

“A lot of the kids on the team now live on the same street I grew up on. That’s nice to see. I enjoy working with these kids. The older you get, the more special this becomes, especially when you’re doing it all at the school you graduated from.”

Schindler has been there for a couple of standout prospects too.

Clintondale graduate Letterius Walton (class of 2010) played at Central Michigan University and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. Josh Eldridge, a 2016 Clintondale grad, plays at CMU. Those two defensive linemen represent all of Clintondale’s Division 1 football players.

“It puts a lot on my shoulders — being only the second player from Clintondale to sign with a D-1 school,” Eldridge said this past winter, “but I’m ready for it. A big reason for that is Coach Schindler.”

Schindler said some coaches try to take all the credit when a player goes on to have success, but not him.

“That was all them. (Walton) was a freak athlete and (Eldridge) is the same,” Schindler said. “They’re both hard workers. It’s something special to see what they’ve become. That’s something that’s more special for the school and the community than it is for the coaches.”

At press time, Clintondale sat at 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the MAC Bronze. The Dragons were tied for first with Warren Lincoln. The teams met Sept. 16, after press time.

Schindler said his squad must play faster if it is to stay in the division title and playoff races.

“They’re doing too much thinking. They just have to play,” said Schindler, who starts six sophomores and a freshman. “We just have to get better. These kids are hardworking and hungry. We just need more reps. We’re (going to) get better. We’re getting better every day.”

Schindler has no plans to slow down.

“I love coming out here. I’d love to do this as long as I can and as long as I’m healthy,” he said. “I don’t know anything else. There hasn’t been one fall that I haven’t been a part of this football team.”

Clintondale’s next game is against Harper Woods High at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at home.