Ramunno Field named in Eagle for longtime coach
GYPSUM — After 35 years as a sideline general, it’s almost impossible to surprise John Ramunno.
Eagle Valley High School’s football field was named John Ramunno Field, and he didn’t know a thing about it.
“It was a complete surprise. I thought we’d barbecue some burgers and tell some stories,” said Ramunno, who retired after 35 years of coaching Devils football in Eagle.
Dozens of former players, friends and colleagues got together Sunday for the event, which, as we mentioned, was a surprise. They hung around for hours enjoying one another’s company, because there’s nothing like the feeling of dozens of young men all fighting to go in the same direction. By the way, new coach Tom LaFramboise is a former Devil, so they’re keeping it in the family.
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Former Devils player Scott Green was the lead blocker on all this. The plan was to spring the surprise later in the afternoon, but the wind kicked up and started blowing around the tarps covering the new signs proclaiming their gridiron John Ramunno Field. So they called an audible.
About an hour after they cranked up the grill, when the most people were there, they unveiled the signs and made it official.
“Ain’t it great to be a Devil!” It says so, right under the John Ramunno Field sign.
For the grammar nerds among us, it’s not a question. It’s an exclamation.
“I’m so honored to be a teacher and coach, to have so many relationships with students and administrators,” Ramunno said. “I can’t believe how fast 35 years flew by!”
This turf is green enough
Ramunno had several chances to leave, but he always decided the grass was greener in Gypsum. Besides, Eagle Valley changed leagues six times while he was coaching. His first win was against Nederland when Eagle Valley’s entire student body was 175 spirited kids. His last win came against Grand Junction Central. Ramunno showed up to coach Eagle Valley in 1980, along with Randy Rohweder and Dave Scott.
Not long after they arrived, their coaching duties were expanded to include replacing the fiberglass bleachers with aluminum. It eliminated the problem of fiberglass splinters in your bohiney, and crowd size grew.
Winning also helped.
“We thought we were looking good. Look at us now,” Ramunno said, looking around at the turf field surrounded by an all-weather track and high-tech lights.
Rebel Reminders are one of those character-building exercises to help remind young rebels that they lack judgment. If a player needed more reminding, the kid carried a weight while he ran.
Speaking of weights, it still isn’t complicated: “Benches, squats and cleans. And we about wore out that hill,” Ramunno said, pointing to a hillside just beyond the south side of the field.
In those days, he and daughters Lacy, Amy and Maddie used to have to find the survey stakes marking the yard lines so they could paint the field before a game. Game films were delivered in a Trailways bus and had to be picked up at the bus station, now long closed, in Eagle.
Lacy was born in 1984 and fell seriously ill as an infant. The community rallied behind the family, held fundraisers and took care of business, so the family could take care of Lacy.
“The team won the first 10 games that season. They really pulled together,” Ramunno said.
Ramunno has often said his ashes should be spread on the 50 yard line. That was before the field was covered in artificial turf, which Green also spearheaded when he was school board president.
Turf might be the perfect repository on the field that now bears his name.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.