St. Paul high school coach finds acceptance through sports: AAPI Heritage Month

Tony Scheuerman, who coaches soccer and golf at Johnson High School in St. Paul, was born in South Korea and moved to the United States at age 11. As he adjusted to his new life and the people who would become his family, Scheuerman found acceptance and belonging through sports.

Even before being adopted into a white family, one challenge remained the same. Being born to a Korean mom and a Black dad, Scheuerman struggled to find a sense of belonging his entire life.

Thanks to Scheuerman's adoptive dad, he fell in love with sports. Scheuerman says being involved in all types of sports from a young age is when he started feeling more accepted.

"To this day, I think the easiest way for me to ever be a part of a group is through sports because there, it’s about who you are as a person, not as a person of color, and you love the passion of the game," said Scheuerman. 

The love for sports runs deep in Scheuerman's adoptive family. His dad was a pitcher for the New York Yankees for a year before pursuing a career in law and often coached Scheuerman, making sure he knew how to play just about every sport there was.

"Following him was something that I looked forward to because he knew all the sports. Great baseball player, football player," said Scheuerman.

Scheuerman was quite the athlete himself. He was the first person to play varsity soccer at Stillwater High School as an underclassman, leading his team to the state tournament. He collected all sorts of titles along the way, including All-State and All-American. Not to mention, he was even drafted by the Minnesota Strikers, the state’s former professional soccer team.

"People ask me, ‘Did you play in pros?’ I said no because that was not my goal. It was about love … and making friendships, that [is] what it was about," said Scheuerman.

Following his dad’s footsteps, Scheuerman now coaches soccer and golf at Johnson High School in St. Paul. One thing Scheuerman vividly remembers is his dad’s mentality when it comes to sports: winning was never the goal. Like father like son, he just wants his players to enjoy the ride.

"You’re not going to appreciate this now, but you’ll appreciate it in the long run because that’s where you’re going to find out what coaches and who cared about you and why they did that," said Scheuerman.