Eagle Valley High School honors long-time teachers/coaches John Ramunno and Randy Rohweder
GYPSUM — It’s John Ramunno’s catch phrase and it has never been more true.
It really was great to be a Devil last week when Ramunno and his longtime teaching/coaching partner Randy Rohweder were inducted into the Eagle Valley High School Foundation Hall of Fame.
The duo is in rarified company — previous inductees include Pete Nolan and Dave and Susan Scott — and there is also a great symmetry in the enshrinement of these five individuals. The Scotts, Ramunno and Rohweder all joined the Eagle Valley High School faculty together in 1980. Nolan was the guy who hired them.
As celebrated Feb. 6 at the Fire and Ice Gala, hundreds of Eagle Valley High School students are grateful they had the chance to learn from Ramunno and Rohweder.
“They’ve had a huge impact. The face of Eagle Valley would be completely different if not for the Randy Rohweders, John Ramunnos, Pete Nolans, Dave and Sue Scotts of our world,” said Scott Green, president of the Eagle Valley High School Foundation.
But it turns out that Ramunno and Rohweder are just as grateful they had the opportunity to teach and coach at Eagle Valley High School. As they accepted their respective awards, both men shared memories of great times and great kids.
Rohweder acknowledged he is an all-or-nothing kind of guy, which meant he could be a pretty intense coach. With a wry grin, he apologized if he had rubbed anyone the wrong way during his or her high school years.
Rohweder was a member of the Eagle Valley High School faculty for 25 years and coached 47 seasons including football, basketball, track, wrestling — just about anything where kids broke a sweat.
In a videotaped message, former Eagle Valley High School standout athlete Travis Bryant recalled how Rohweder would watch all of his athletes’ events during a track meet. All these years later, Bryant said he still doesn’t know how the coach managed that.
Rohweder said he also tried to bring that kind of intensity into the classroom. Rohweder started Eagle Valley’s sports medicine and world geography programs from scratch.
“Everyone thinks of John and Randy as coaches, but they were first and foremost teachers and mentors,” Green said.
They were also in-the-trenches guys.
“When we arrived at the Eagle River Center Saturday morning to start setting up for the evening’s event, Randy was already there helping the county crew get straightened away,” said Green. “He stuck around until about 3 p.m., then went home to get cleaned up and strap on a suit for his own party.”
Ramunno’s story is the stuff of Eagle Valley High School legend. He retired last year after 35 years of teaching and coaching at the school and for many of those years, he doubled as the football and wrestling coach.
“You’ll never again see a coach here or anywhere else stay somewhere 35 years,” Green said.
When he came to the podium to accept his award, Ramunno told stories about how the highs of his time at Eagle Valley High School were often paired with personal lows. For instance, back in the 1980s when his wrestling team was marching to a state title, his infant daughter Lacy was battling a potentially fatal illness. He talked about how he had to rely on Rohweder and the rest of his teaching and coaching partners to get through that hard time. Then he talked about what had happened to him earlier that day.
Ramunno said he was pretty hyped about being the “gala boy” last Saturday when he took a trip to fill up his son’s gas tank. On the way to the pumps, he was involved in a serious car accident that totaled his truck into bent and buckled metal.
“He was there Saturday night wearing a suit and tie, all shined up. You would have never known if word hadn’t spread around the place. He got checked out Sunday morning,” said Green.
One story for the road
Throughout the evening, people shared their favorite tales about Ramunno and Rohweder, and one of the best came from the head football coach himself. Ramunno talked about how not long after he had started coaching, his team was set to play the winner of a game scheduled in Rangely during the playoffs. Ramunno talked Rohweder into driving up to the far northwestern Colorado community to scout the contest. That’s a three hour drive and they couldn’t catch the beginning of the game, but they barreled their way up the two-lane road in time to see some of the action.
It was only after they game was over that they realized their gas tank was empty and neither one of them had any cash. Ramunno laughed, recalling how they managed to coast into Meeker, where his sister was living, and negotiate a loan at around 1 a.m.
But the trip paid off, he said. The Devils took down Rangley when they met the following Friday. It was great to be a Devil that night.
It was great to be a Devil on Feb. 6, too.
“Coaching paid about a buck an hour in a good year. For that money, John and Randy studied film. They handled kids and parents. … They did everything, and they did that for 30 years,” Green said. “Their sacrifice and that of their families, is tremendous, mentoring other peoples’ kids. And not only did they help other peoples’ kids, their own kids are awesome,” Green said.
Ain’t it great to be a Devil?
Mountainfilm On Tour brings 10 documentary shorts, focusing on equity, to two local high schools and two local movie theaters. “Brotherhood Of Skiing,” for example, is about African Americans who love skiing and want to pass that love to the next generation.