Terri Schall had technical skills that made her a trusted athletic trainer in times of pain, was blessed with a calming personality in stressful situations, and seemingly possessed an inexhaustible work ethic. And she definitely had a passion for treating wounded Middletown High athletes the past four years.


    Terri Schall had technical skills that made her a trusted athletic trainer in times of pain, was blessed with a calming personality in stressful situations, and seemingly possessed an inexhaustible work ethic. And she definitely had a passion for treating wounded Middletown High athletes the past four years.

    And now she will be greatly missed by all. Schall, 36, was killed July 20 after being hit by two cars while trying to cross a road near her Newark home.

    Schall was a well-trained safety net for MHS coaches who regularly sent hobbled athletes her way. She was an emergency medical technician and member of the Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company in Newark, and well qualified to handle the aches and pains that every sports season brings.

    “Terri was great with the kids and the perfect person to be involved in academics and athletics,” MHS athletic director Joe Lahutsky said. “With her EMT training, I knew that when she was around we were covered by the best expertise possible. There were never any worries about the safety of the kids.”

    For the past year, Schall worked at Middletown-based Premier Physical Therapy and Sports Performance as an athletic trainer and massage therapist.

    “Terri woke up every day wanting to help people in a variety of ways based on her skill set,” said Premier co-owner Tom Windley. “She did it with zest and certain intensity for her line of work. She had a real passion for the people she was working with.”

    Perhaps her favorite professional stop was the playing fields at Middletown High. Windley said that in one of their last conversations, Schall mentioned how much she was looking forward to Aug. 16 – the opening of fall high school practices. Premier co-owner Pat Williams said MHS had become a special place for her.

    “She loved the kids and cared about their well-being, first of all,” Williams said. “Professionally, she had plenty of other opportunities to work between here and home, but Middletown is where she really wanted to be.”

‘AN INTEGRAL PART’

    Cavaliers coaches were glad to have Schall on their side, moving from team to team on a golf cart loaded with medical equipment, Schall was part of the everyday way of life once afterschool workouts and games began. When teams went on the road for the playoffs, Schall was on the bus with them and spent many long Saturdays at game sites from Sussex County to north of Wilmington.

    “Terri was an integral part of the success that we had,” MHS soccer coach Brian Derrickson said. “She was very honest with the players who were dealing with injuries and wouldn’t let them return if she didn’t think they were ready.

    "She wasn’t worried about getting more wins or making it to the state championship, but dedicated to the kids best interest. She had an ear that listened, a shoulder to cry on and a voice that told it like it was. She never sugar-coated anything.”

    Derrickson was in Chestertown, Md. with 11 of his players at a Washington College soccer camp when news of Schall’s tragedy broke. He then sent an email of the details to other players and their parents.

    “At first their minds were going 100 miles per hour,” Derrickson said. “Everyone deals with it in different ways. I asked them to say what was on their mind if they felt like it. Others will talk it out with their parents or amongst friends. If there’s nobody else to talk to, they can always come to me.”

AN EMPTY CHAIR

    The Middletown High football program completed its summer conditioning program the day after Schall’s tragedy, because she would have wanted it that way. She wasn’t a big fan of office paperwork, and preferred to be in action somewhere tending to athletes.

    “I know Terri would have said ‘You guys better get right back out there,’ ” MHS head coach Mark DelPercio said. “She took great satisfaction in working with the kids and getting them back on the field. Her satisfaction came with helping them heal up and returning to play. She did whatever she could to get them back into the action.”

    Schall spent the last two weeks working at Middletown youth football camps at Billings Stadium, and left late Tuesday afternoon after some playful jostling with MHS assistant coaches. She died that night.

    “It was tough for everyone, and served as an important reminder on why you should appreciate the people around you every day,” DelPercio said. “I told the guys to tell someone you love them when you go home, because we’re not promised the next day.”

    The day after her death, camp staff brought out an empty chair and her training bag to workouts, along with flowers. The empty chair will remain throughout the start of fall practice.

    “Quite honestly, Terri was the best trainer I’ve worked with,” DelPercio said. “She got along with the players and they respected her. Dealing with injuries can become a very gray area when it comes to football, but the truth always came out when Terri was involved.”

    DelPercio said the football program is compiling a scrapbook in Schall’s memory to present to her family. Photos and tributes will be included. Former players and coaches can contribute their memories by emailing mark.delpercio@appo.k12.de.us.

    More tributes and recognition will come this fall, school administrators and coaches said.

‘THAT’S FOR TERRI’

   Former Middletown High three-sport athlete Julius Ryland paid tribute to Schall after hitting a home run for his American Legion baseball team July 24. According to Middletown Post 25 manager Bill Alexander, Ryland said “That’s for Terri” after he stepped off home plate.