Passion for sports leads Romstadt to Alpena Sports HOF
If there’s one word that personifies Bill Romstadt, it’s longevity.
Since 1945, sports have been Romstadt’s life. His passion and drive continue to define him today, but also helped him during a decorated athletic and officiating career.
On May 4, Romstadt will take his place in the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame after a lifetime dedicated to sports as a player, a coach and an official.
Romstadt will be inducted as part of the Class of 2018 along with Rachel (Gebauer) Garant, Melissa (Brousseau) O’Dell, Wayne Christopherson and Don Deadman.
“It is a great honor, however, I started playing sports in 1945 and fell in love with it. During my time competing, I never once thought of receiving any honors or being recognized in any way, I just simply wanted to compete and win. Being inducted into any Hall of Fame or being honored in any way never crossed my mind,” Romstadt said. “I’m happy to be a part of such a great Hall of Fame. It was nothing I ever (sought) out, I am just happy that I was blessed with the ability to play and win because that’s all I ever wanted to do. I am happy and I am excited to be inducted into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame.”
Shortly after Romstadt realized his love for sports, his athletic career took off. Romstadt attended Clay High School in Oregon, Ohio and in 1948, Romstadt quarterbacked his football team to the City of Toledo (Ohio) Catholic League championship.
Romstadt was Clay’s quarterback during his high school career and earned All-Conference honors in football and baseball in 1952.
Clay’s football team won conference championships in 1951 and 1952. Romstadt was also a part of three baseball championship teams at Clay in 1950, 1951 and 1952.
After his high school career was over, Romstadt was a highly touted recruit and received offers from Miami (Ohio), Ohio University and Cornell among others. He ultimately made the decision to attend Findlay University so he could continue both his football and baseball career.
“I was brought on as a freshman at Clay High School and my coached asked me to be the quarterback. My first experience was an ultimate high and being a part of championship teams was something special and something I will never forget,” Romstadt said. “I went to Findlay because the football coach there needed a quarterback and he had seen me play. He promised me action and going to Findlay allowed me to play two sports. My decision came down to figuring out where I could go where I knew I would play.”
After graduating from college, Romstadt began his coaching career. Romstadt began coaching wrestling and football before moving to Alpena.
After spending four years as a coach at Delta High School, Romstadt accepted a coaching position in Alpena in 1967.
Romstadt spent time as an assistant coach at Alpena and has been associated with Alpena for 57 years and its athletic programs for 35 years.
Along with coaching, Romstadt got into officiating to stay active and involved in sports. Romstadt served as one of the top officials in Michigan, officiating softball, baseball and basketball for 31 years. In all, Romstadt’s officiating career spanned 54 years, starting in 1953 when he umpired games as a college freshman.
During his long career, Romstadt also officiated basketball games in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) from 1970-1986 and officiated in two different National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) basketball tournaments in 1973 and 1975. In 1997, he was selected as an umpire for the state baseball finals in Battle Creek. Then in 2000, he was chosen as the home plate umpire for Michigan’s annual East-West All-Star Game at Comerica Park.
“It was crazy how fast the athletic years went by, but I have absolutely no regrets. I would have never been as successful as I was without the teammates that I had. I never once took credit and my attitude was always the same. I thanked my teammates because without them I couldn’t have done the things that I did. The friendships that I developed override everything and those memories last forever and they have always been very important to me,” Romstadt said. “I got into officiating because I just love sports and love being around the athletes. I never did it for the money and just like my athletic career, I have so many great memories from my 40 years of officiating.”
Along with being a standout as an athlete and official, Romstadt has been one of the best teachers in Alpena since he arrived. Romstadt was elected Teacher of the Year seven times between Thunder Bay Jr. High School and Alpena High School and received the Jesse Besser Foundation Award as an outstanding educator in 1983.
Romstadt is still a substitute teacher in Alpena and enjoys interacting and teaching students. In all, has spent 58 years as a teacher.
Romstadt will add his induction into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame to a list that includes two other Halls of Fame: the Clay High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the (Toledo) Cardinal Stritch High School Coaches Hall of Fame.
“I’m 84 years old and still love what I do and I do it because I love the kids. I really like being with the kids because they respect me; they don’t always agree with me and I don’t expect them to,” Romstadt said. “I don’t ever regret anything I’ve done throughout my career. Life has been good to me and it still amazes me that I’ve been blessed to be in a profession where I get paid money to do something I love every single day. The satisfaction I got from competing, coaching and teaching is truly special and I am so very blessed.”