Alpena honors excellence

Sports Hall of Fame inducts five new members

News Photo by James Andersen The Alpena Sports Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2018 on Saturday during its 36th annual banquet at the APlex. Pictured left to right are: sitting: Nancy Garant and Brenda Gebauer (both representing Rachel (Gebauer) Garant; standing: Hall of Fame board members Gary and Barbara Mischley, Marilyn Bauer, Rudy Bauer, Jiim Mott, Janet Mott, Don Deadman, Wayne Christopherson, Melissa (Brousseau) O’Dell and Bill Romstadt Sr.

When her name first appeared on the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame ballot a few years ago, Melissa (Brousseau) O’Dell felt it was an honor just be nominated.

On Saturday, O’Dell took the next step, moving from nominee to inductee, ensuring her career will be remembered in the annals of Alpena sports history.

O’Dell was one of five new inductees into the Hall of Fame during the 36th annual banquet at the APlex, along with Rachel (Gebauer) Garant, Don Deadman, Wayne Christopherson and Bill Romstadt Sr.

Rudy and Marilyn Bauer and Jim and Janet Mott were honored as Boosters of the Year and the 1970-71 Alpena High boys basketball team was honored as Team of the Year.

O’Dell had a record-setting career at Alpena High, winning the Class A state championship in the shot put two years in a row, earning four all-state finishes in two years and setting school records in the discus and shot put. She threw collegiately at Central Michigan, where she was a three-time Mid-American Conference champion in the shot put and earned several other honors.

She credited her coaches for helping her on her athletic journey and also said her faith played a big part in her success.

“I don’t think I’m here today because of what I accomplished; I’m here today because of what someone else accomplished for me,” O’Dell said. “Jesus accomplished for me what I couldn’t accomplish for myself.”

Garant was a multi-sport star who excelled in whatever she played. She was a standout basketball player and a leader in the throwing events for the Alpena girls track team, later going on to throw at the U.S. Air Force Academy. On the softball field, Garant set several pitching records and was a leader on Alpena’s 2008 state runner-up team.

She wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, but thanked her coaches, former teammates and supporters in a pre-recorded video message.

“Thank you to all of the board members from the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame. Thank you for this opportunity to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Garant said. “I think it’s just a huge testament to all of the individuals who I got to be teammates with, got to be coached by and supported me over the years.”

Deadman was a key piece of some of Alpena’s first great gymnastics teams. In the days before gymnastics was a varsity sport at Alpena, Deadman was a spark plug for Vic Krumdick’s teams in AAU competition. In 1954, he was runner-up behind teammate Don Schuelke. The next year, he won in two events and finished runner-up in two more.

During his speech, Deadman credited his coaches for teaching him important life lessons.

“The discipline and skills I learned from coach Krumdick added to my life in so many ways. He taught me how to concentrate, focus and work hard,” Deadman said. “We all worked hard and clung to his words. He grew us into disciplined young ladies and men. Coach pushed us hard for excellence, no matter the pain. Those skills helped us become successful not only in gymnastics, but for the rest of our lives.”

With his induction into the Hall of Fame, Christopherson made history as the first marathoner to be inducted. During a long career as a marathoner and ultra-marathoner, Christopherson has completed more than 250 races, including several Boston Marathons, many Detroit Free Press Marathons, a group of 100-mile races known as the Big Four and Traverse City’s Bayshore Marathon many times.

“It’s a great honor for anyone to be inducted into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame,” Christopherson said. “It’s especially an honor to me because running is being recognized in and of itself.”

Romstadt had an accomplished high school and collegiate career in Ohio before moving to Alpena in the late 1960s. Upon moving to the area, he became involved in coaching and officiating. In total, he spent more than 50 years as an official of various sports and worked high school state finals games as well as college tournament games. As a coach, Romstadt coached junior high basketball, spent time as Alpena’s varsity girls basketball coach and served as an assistant under varsity football coach Dutch Schrotenboer.

“I’m totally overwhelmed and I sincerely mean that. I never expected to ever be here, never saw anything like that,” Romstadt said. “The only thing I ever wanted to do in my life really was be part of athletics.”

The 1970-71 Wildcats went 14-4 during the regular season and later went on to win a district championship. Seven members of the team were on hand to be honored including Butch Feher, who set school records for points in a season and scoring average that year.

“Thank you for remembering this team. We had a great time doing it,” Feher said. “One of the great things about Alpena has always been athletics.

Feher also helped honor Alpena senior Chris DeRocher, who broke Feher’s all-time scoring record in February and finished his career with 1,624 points, surpassing Feher’s mark of 1,435 set in 1972.