“St. John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us. Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever.”
Those 15 words, recited by De La Salle Collegiate students, faculty and staff members, and alumni each day, still hold a special place in the heart of Pat Schluter.
Schluter, a class of 1986 alumnus from De La Salle, thoroughly enjoyed his time as a Pilot.
Yet, it wasn’t always a certainty that he would attend De La Salle.
Prior to deciding on The Collegiate, Schluter had also considered enrolling at Harper Woods Notre Dame and Harper Woods Bishop Gallagher.
However, upon visiting DLS, he was convinced that The Collegiate was the right fit for him.
“My visit to De La Salle was the best one I made (to any high school),” Schluter said. “I felt like the teachers and coaches really cared about me as a person. And, when DLS moved to Warren (in 1982), it was a no-brainer.”
He also credits Fr. George Charnley, the one-time associate pastor at St. Anne Parish in Warren and Schluter’s eighth-grade basketball coach at St. Anne’s, for being influential in his decision to become a Pilot.
“He (Fr. George) helped raise me,” Schluter said. “I was very tight with him, and he would take me to DLS, Bishop Gallagher, and Notre Dame (High School) games. And, as time went on, he became a father figure to me.”
Fr. George truly stepped into the role of a father figure for Schluter, after Schluter’s dad, Walter Schluter, developed health and subsequent financial issues.
Walter suffered two heart attacks during Schluter’s sophomore year at DLS, and soon after, developed cancer and could no longer work. As a result, the family went into a financial bind.
Enter Fr. George, who, at that point, took the then-adolescent under his wing. Schluter moved in with Fr. George during his senior year, and the two proceeded to live with one another for eight years.
It was just the beginning of a lifelong friendship that spanned 40 years, and which only came to an end due to the passing of the longtime priest in December 2021.
“His words, love, and mentoring helped me get through some tough times,” Schluter said of Fr. George. “More than anything, he always showed up and spoiled me like I was his son. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him. I learned so many things from him, like how to be caring, hardworking, and passionate, plus how to study in school.”
Schluter loved Fr. George dearly, and in his memory, hosted an indoor golf tournament this past November. The proceeds from the event, which was held at Players Golf in Livonia, benefitted the students of De La Salle.
While a student himself at DLS, Schluter was a standout, two-sport athlete, participating in football and basketball.
And, along the way, he had the chance to play for some legendary Pilots head coaches, including DLS Athletic Hall of Fame basketball coach Gary Buslepp and longtime varsity football head man John Maronto. Buslepp also coached him in freshman football.
During Schluter’s time at The Collegiate, he was also coached by DLS Athletic Hall of Famer Mike Jolly (freshman basketball) and one-time Pilots head man Ray Barr (varsity football his senior year).
Schluter learned some vital lessons from each of the aforementioned coaches that he still carries with himself to this day.
Specifically, with Buslepp, he learned the importance of being punctual.
“Coach Buslepp did not want you to be late for practice, no matter what. He taught me to consistently be 30 minutes early,” Schluter expressed.
Buslepp's mentoring helped Schluter become an all-state basketball player while at De La Salle.
And, it also aided him in getting a scholarship to Saginaw Valley State University. He was a member of the university's basketball team for four years and a captain on the team for all that time. He also eventually became a graduate assistant at the school.
"Pat certainly ranks among the toughest defenders DLS has ever had. He always welcomed a challenge," Buslepp said of Schluter as a basketball player.
According to Buslepp, the Pilots played man-to-man defense 99 percent of the time when Schluter was a part of the program. And, he was often tasked with defending the best backcourt player of De La Salle's opponents.
The players Schluter went up against included future NBA players B.J. Armstrong (of Brother Rice) and Negele Knight (of the now-defunct St. Martin de Porres).
His frequent battles with such standout offensive talents, per Buslepp, prepared Schluter to become "the best on-ball defender in the Catholic League his senior year."
"Hard-nosed, relentless, and disruptive are words that come to mind when describing Pat as a defender," Buslepp added. "Pat’s work ethic was on display every single game and practice. He took great pride in giving his best effort."
Then, inside the classroom, Schluter was molded by the school's top-notch faculty and staff, including veteran faculty member Mike Szatkowski, '73.
Szatkowski, also a long-tenured assistant varsity football coach, taught Schluter in European History.
"Coach Szat was a great mentor," Schluter said. "He was intense in class, and always made sure I was doing my homework. He constantly pushed students to do their absolute best, and cared about every type of student."
After graduating from Saginaw Valley State with degrees in business administration and physical education, Schluter entered into the teaching and coaching world himself.
The well-versed Schluter, equipped with a teaching degree from the University of Michigan and two Master’s degrees from Wayne State University, was a physical education teacher for 33 years at Novi Meadows Elementary. He taught fifth-and-sixth-grade students at the school, and retired in June 2020 from Novi Community Schools.
He also served as the head coach of the varsity boys basketball team at Novi High School for 15 years (1992-2007), winning 180-plus games and three district championships along the way.
Along with coaching at the high school level, he roamed the sidelines for the St. James Catholic Church eighth-grade girls team and the AAU basketball squads of his daughters, Jordyn and Jenna.
Additionally, since 2007, he’s been the director of “Big Cat Basketball," a youth basketball league for boys and girls ranging from fourth graders to seniors in high school. The league, which is played inside of South Lyon-and-Novi-based schools, is comprised of three different seasons (fall, winter, and spring). The Pilots participated in the recently completed fall season, competing on Sundays along with 12 other varsity boys teams and 13 total varsity girls squads.
Schluter also serves as owner of the "All Area 4-Star Basketball Camp." The youth basketball camp has been in existence for the last 20 years.
Despite his multitude of accomplishments in his professional life, Schluter hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings at De La Salle.
“De La Salle had such a huge impact on me,” Schluter said. “I had unbelievable teachers and coaches that taught me values, how to work hard, and how to be a good teammate. And most importantly, they instilled in me that my schoolwork came before sports.”
“The teachers and coaches I had at DLS,” he added, “prepared me for the rest of my life.”