Always connected

Published April 29, 2007

DADE CITY - Pasco pitcher Josh Schofield is on his way home from a baseball game, and his fingers are carrying on a conversation.

We won. I pitched 2 innings. Schrder has three hitse. Hobbs hit a homerin.

Sorry about the spelling.

I'm driving.


This is the BlackBerry-toting Schofield, student by day, baseball player by night and wired all the time.

That Schofield is a high school kid who has a BlackBerry is unique, but not nearly as much as this fact - the guy runs a computer business on the side.

So really, why wouldn't he have a BlackBerry, a fact that could make some text-messaging teenagers a little envious.

"They were kind of jealous at first, " said Schofield, laughing about his teammates' initial reaction. "Now they're all pretty used to it."

Four months ago, Schofield decided to put his tech savvy to use, starting Florida Technical Operations, a computer and electronics repair business check it out here at fltechops.com with partner Matt Lyman.

Separately, Schofield and Lyman had been fixing computers and helping the technically hapless for years. They decided to team up and make it legitimate.

"We decided pretty much to do everything, " said Schofield, who currently has three broken laptops he is fixing for customers, as well as designing home networking systems and fixing home stereo systems.

Schofield has been taking things apart since he was kid. Sometimes, he would even put them back together. Other times, he just wanted to see how they worked.

One day he talked his mother Barbara into letting him crack open her computer to fix. The computer's motherboard fascinated him.

As a volunteer at Pasco Regional Medical Center over the summer, he helped with computer support and a new e-mail server.

Now he is a small business owner, which beats a job at Taco Bell or bagging groceries.

"Pays better, too, " he says.

For fun, he is working on a friend's slot machine, trying to fix the motherboard and make it sing and ding-ding-ding again.

Yes, for fun. It's the kind of slow process - "You would not believe what a pain it is getting the parts I need from some guy in Ohio" - that might cause some to take a baseball bat to the thing.

Schofield's computer wizardry has paid off in more ways than just dollars and cents, as he has placed high in state and national competitions sponsored by Future Business Leaders of America and Business Professionals of America with his networking concepts.

Did we mention this kid plays baseball and goes to high school, takes AP courses and a good many of them at Pasco Hernando Community College?

"Yeah, it's a busy schedule, " Schofield said. "I don't know how I do it sometimes. It can be pretty stressful, especially right now."

He would love to play baseball in college. This season, he is 7-1, primarily in relief, but threw four perfect innings in the district tournament as a starter, a performance he called "the peak" of his baseball career.

He throws five pitches, including a knuckleball, and has been one of the unsung heroes of Pasco's baseball success.

His performance in a game against Zephyrhills earlier this season ranks as one of the top clutch performances in the entire county, as he shut the Bulldogs down in relief while his team rallied to win.

Schofield has drawn some interest from colleges, but those without the kind of computer and business classes he wants to take need not apply.

For now, he plans to enjoy the Pirates' playoff run, which starts Tuesday.

Oh, and figuring out how to fix his BlackBerry, which he has learned does not belong in the back pocket of his baseball uniform in case he were to accidentally fall and crack it.

Which he did.

"It still works, but now I guess I have my own computer to fix."


John C. Cotey can be reached at (727) 869-6261 or johncotey@gmail.com.