Dedication to athletics leads Don Deadman to Hall of Fame
Doing the impossible is what drove Don Deadman during his athletic career.
That mentality catapulted Deadman to a stellar gymnastics career where his achievements went far beyond the success he had at Alpena High School.
Now Deadman’s work ethic and focus have led him into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame, where he will be inducted as part of the Class of 2018 along with Rachel (Gebauer) Garant, Melissa (Brousseau) O’Dell, Wayne Christopherson and Bill Romstadt on May 4.
“I’m honored. It’s very nice knowing that I’ll be in the Hall of Fame with so many extraordinary members,” Deadman said. “I’m happy to be recognized as a gymnast and I had a lot of fun during my athletic career. It wasn’t easy, but it was all worth it.”
Deadman grew up around sports and throughout his career, competed for and was coached by some legendary coaches. Deadman played football under coach Bob Devaney as an eighth grader, but it was Deadman’s passion for gymnastics that would propel him to greater heights and he worked hard perfecting his craft under coach Vic Krumdick.
During his time at Alpena High School, Deadman competed in four years of gymnastics from 1953-1956 when gymnastics was a club sport at the school.
Alpena competed in AAU competition (college and independent) which meant Deadman was competing against collegiate and veteran athletes.
In 1954, Deadman finished second place in five events at the AAU State Gymnastics meet. Deadman finished second to teammate Don Schuelke as the two placed ahead of everyone in the state in the floor free exercise, high bar, parallel bars, flying rings and still rings.
A year later, in 1955, Deadman came back better than ever and earned first place honors in the free exercise and parallel bars and took home second place honors on the flying rings.
“Being able to compete in gymnastics was just an honor to work and compete. I remember always coming back with a lot of trophies and it was just a great thing to do and a great sport to compete in and better yourself,” Deadman said. “AHS didn’t offer letters, but I enjoyed the winning culture I was apart of and for me personally to bring home trophies was special to me. The entire team worked hard as individuals to better ourselves and I pushed myself to be the very best I could be and I knew in my mind if I practiced enough, I could get it done and I did.”
Deadman’s gymnastic journey went on long after his time at Alpena as he went on to teach gymnastics in California and in Germany in the United States Armed Forces in 1956 and 1957.
Deadman used his knowledge of the sport to teach an international gymnastics team in 1967 in Schweinfurt, Germany before returning home to teach gymnastics in Alpena in 1963.
“I remember teaching the soldiers about gymnastics in the Army and in California. My thought was that I knew that I could do gymnastics, so I just thought it was necessary to teach others around the world because if you can do gymnastics, you can do just about anything and that was my message to everyone,” Deadman said.
Deadman continued to be involved in different sports and activities when he came back home to Alpena.
Deadman opened up his music store and has become the Top Gun in the winter Pistol League at the Alpena Sportman’s Club, he is also a commander in the United States Power Squadron and teaches safe boating through education, making boating a safe sport. Deadman also does a lot of traveling and has been diving for NOAA in search of sunken ships which he has found many of over the years.
Deadman still prides himself on being a very physical fit man for his age and can still do a one handed chin up to this day. Many of Alpena’s top gymnasts have learned much of their skills from Deadman and he is always willing to help others hone their skills whether it be gymnastics or at the pistol range. Deadman has made it his mission to better those around him after he spent so many years working on being the best he could be as an athlete and person.
“I always felt that if you were a gymnast, you could do anything. A lot of people looked at us and thought some of the stuff we did was impossible so in a way it almost made us gymnasts feel like supermen,” Deadman said. “We used to do tricks that you don’t see anymore today. The focus, balance and concentration that it took to excel in gymnastics are the same three qualities that helped me not just in gymnastics, but throughout life. My lessons in gymnastics helped me realize that anything you do that requires you to better yourself and perfect yourself in a way that you never thought possible is absolutely worth it.”