Most college students have spent this spring adapting to virtual classes and studying for long-distance exams. Carmen Schrodel of Dunkirk, Maryland, has done all of that while organizing a long-running local golf tournament, in honor of the father she lost when she was just a toddler, with support from his Sigma Tau Gamma chapter brothers.
Carmen, a rising senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., is set to welcome golfers to the 17th annual Michael D. Schrodel Golf Classic next month (golfing is allowed under Maryland’s Road to Recovery guidelines). The charity event is in memory of her father, Michael Schrodel, who died of cancer in 2001. This year it will be held at the Cannon Club in Lothian on Friday, July 24.
“This tournament is the proudest part of my life,” says Carmen. “I get to keep my father’s memory alive. I was only two when he passed away, meaning I don’t have many memories of my own. At the tournament, I get to hear everyone’s memories of my dad from the people that had the opportunity to be in his life.”
Michael’s fraternity brothers in Sigma Tau Gamma at Frostburg State University, whom Carmen calls her “uncles,” had pitched the idea of hosting a golf tournament to assist with medical bills right before Michael died.
“Michael didn’t want any help for himself and instead wanted to raise money to give to others,” says Carmen’s mom, Teresa Schrodel.
The spring after Michael’s death, Teresa, aided by Michael’s fraternity brothers, held a golf tournament in his memory. A small portion of the money raised would go towards Carmen’s college savings with the majority being donated to Hospice of the Chesapeake and Hope Lodge, the American Cancer Society’s free lodging program for cancer patients and caregivers.
“Carmen has always worked on the tournament,” Teresa says. “I remember her stuffing bags and folding brochures and programs when she was 3 years old.”
“The day of the tournament is always my favorite day of the year,” Carmen says. “When I was little I could hardly sleep the night before just because of how excited I was.”
As Carmen grew, she took on bigger roles in the tournament, taking over the silent auction as a middle schooler.
“I saw being in charge of the silent auction as my ‘big girl’ job,” says Carmen, who fully took over the tournament in 2018.
“We never topped more than 16 teams in the first 13 years,” Carmen says. “When I took it over we had 19 teams and last year we had 22 teams.”
As the tournament has grown, so has the good it has been able to do.
“Over the years we began to put aside money for a scholarship fund at Frostburg,” Teresa says. “On Carmen’s 10th birthday we drove to Frostburg and gave them a check for $10,000 to start the Michael D. Schrodel Endowed Scholarship Fund.”
Funds have shifted to go to Calvert Hospice since Teresa and Carmen now make their home in Calvert County.
The tournaments have raised more than $136,000. “Last year’s golf classic was our most prosperous event yet,” Carmen says.
Just as she’s done since she was 3, Carmen is preparing to meet the challenges thrown her way by the pandemic with enthusiasm and positivity.
“We may come into many hiccups, but we’re not letting them stop the tournament from going on,” Carmen says. “I know we will likely have less turnout and donations, and I’m prepared for that.”
As for social distancing requirements, Carmen says, “We will be taking all health and safety precautions required by law.” “The only other thought is to have distanced eating outside when it is time to eat…Golfing is the perfect thing to be doing during this pandemic.”
It’s also the perfect day to celebrate Michael Schrodel. July 24 would have been his 50th birthday. “I know deep in my heart this year’s tournament was meant to be,” Carmen says.
To register for the Michael D. Schrodel Golf Classic, go to www.MDSGolfClassic.com.