Kurt Schuett has taught English at Leyden High School District 212 since 2000, although he’s probably better known as the varsity softball coach.
In July, he’ll add the distinction of being a published novelist. As if that’s not enough, he organized a fundraiser for a Chicago nonprofit that assists people with obsessive compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder where people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations or repetitive behaviors. The fundraiser took place on April 26 at Bandits Stadium in Rosemont.
Q. Why did you choose to study English?
A. It was a really difficult choice for me. My father was a Golden Apple winning teacher at Morton School district then a college professor at Benedictine University. Social studies was very tempting for me but I had a couple brilliant English teachers at high school plus I’ve always enjoyed creative writing.
Q. What’s your background in softball?
A. I was a baseball player in high school and college. I got a half academic and half athletic scholarship. I played for four years.
Q. There are a lot of good causes out there. How did you come to pick obsessive compulsive disorder as a cause to raise money for?
A. Twofold reasons. First, I’ve struggled with OCD my entire life. As a child I’ve struggled. As an adult I’ve learned to channel my energies. One out of 100 school age children struggle with some form of OCD. It often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. It seems like so many kids are on the spectrum or near the spectrum. Until these kids can feel normal in their own skins they won’t feel normal
Q. What’s the other reason?
A. I actually sold a book deal. I wrote a novel. The publisher is going to launch in July. One of my major characters struggles with OCD.
Q. What’s the title of the book?
A. Insurgency. It speculative fiction, a thriller-horror novel set in Chicago in the present day.
Q. You scored the Bandits stadium in Rosemont for the fundraiser?
A. The village of Rosemont just said hey, we have the keys to the castle here and you get to use the castle. It’s the finest women’s sporting venue in the country.
Q. How many people are helping out?
A. At least 100 volunteers.
Q. Have you ever organized a fundraiser before?
A. Striking out Breast Cancer for a wife of a teacher at West Leyden. Another larger fundraiser for a board member’s wife. Knocking out Ovarian Cancer. This is really my third fundraiser of substantial size.
Q. What’s this one called?
A. Knocking out OCD.
Q. Part of the fundraising will be people paying to hit one of the ballpark. Will you be pitching?
A. There will be a rotation of about five pitchers. I have some former Division 1 college standouts. I probably will do a little bit of pitching.
Q. Where will the money go?
A. Beyond OCD, a Chicago nonprofit that works on OCD. It was a one-woman outfit for seven years. She was recently able to hire a part-time assistant. She has a website with a bunch of useful tools that people are using to help cope with OCD, particularly people who lack insurance and based on geography. She survives on charitable donations and fundraising. She gets just over 300,000 hits on the website. We’re in 2014, this is a digital civilization we’re living in. She’s creating useful tools for people who need it.