Rogers City softball coach Karl Grambau joins exclusive 500 win club
ROGERS CITY — Way back in 2003, Karl Grambau knew he wanted to be the head coach of the Rogers City softball program. He knew he wanted to do it a long time.
But 500 wins and nearly 20 years later? That’s something he never counted on.
“I knew I wanted to do it long term back then,” Grambau, who is just the third head coach in program history, said. “Charlie Fairbanks, was the coach before me and asked if I would take it over and his assistants wrote a letter to the A.D. supporting me to be the next coach because they thought I would be there for the long haul. It worked out that way.”
It certainly has worked out for Grambau and the Hurons. As of Thursday morning, he had a 500-183 career record. 12 league championships. 10 district championships, including nine straight. Seven regional titles. Five appearances in the final four, including a runner-up finish in 2004 and a state championship in 2014.
“Our program was strong before I was there and we have kept it going the best we can,” Grambau said. “I’ve had great kids, great community support and it has all come together really well.”
Helping Grambau’s cause has been a long line of strong assistant coaches. When he first took over for Fairbanks, the coaching staff remained intact otherwise.
“I’ve had great volunteer assistants throughout the years,” he said.
The assistant who has been with him nearly the entire way is Gary Bisson. The way Grambau describes him paints the picture of a perfect right hand man.
“Gary does everything for me,” Grambau said. “He does the hitting, the pitching. He has been with me for about three-quarters of this journey and is just fantastic. Without him, there is no way we are talking about 500 wins. He doesn’t get enough notoriety for what he does.”
But thanks to a win over Inland Lakes on Wednesday, a team the Hurons have had a heated postseason rivalry with over the years, we are talking about 500 wins.
“It was nice getting that win over there, it was a fun day,” Grambau said. “It is just a number, but it means I have coached a long time. I’ve had great players, great assistant coaches and I credit our little league program here in Rogers City for turning the kids on to the game.”
This year’s team is certainly living up to the program’s pedigree. They’re 18-6 and have already won a North Star League Big Dipper championship. Their Division 4 district is loaded against talented teams like Posen, Hillman and Johannesburg-Lewiston and a rapidly improving Atlanta squad.
“I think the winner of that district is going to go far,” Grambau said. “It is whoever plays best that day. We just try to improve day by day, so we are playing our best ball that day. It is a lot of fun to see how the kids improve, how they work together and how they buy into it. I just really enjoy it.”
It is that enjoyment that has helped keep Grambau going all these years. He has been coaching since 1987 and even added the role of athletic director to his duties a few years back.
“Whether it is basketball or softball, I just enjoy coaching,” he said. “I will be 64 this summer, but I would love to coach for a long time. As long as I have good health and am able to do it, I would love to keep doing it. It is fun, and just something I enjoy. Once one year is over we are already planning for the next year.”