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May 18, 2007

• SCSDB hates to see Ramborger leave

From: Spartanburg Herald Journal - Spartanburg,SC,USA - May 18, 2007

DAN ARMONAITIS, For the Herald-Journal

When Bill Ramborger mentioned his retirement during an awards ceremony at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind on Thursday, at least one student wasn't shy about making her feelings on the matter known.

"One girl stood up and told me, 'no, no, no, stay one more year,' " Ramborger said. "It kind of took my breath away. It almost made me want to cry."

Ramborger has served as the track and field coach at SCSDB for the past 38 years, but he recently announced that this season would be his last.

"I planned to retire two years ago, but I couldn't leave," said Ramborger, 64. "The boys and girls had a good team. They were young and enthusiastic. I felt a good connection with them, so I decided to stay at least one more year. ... But, now, I feel it's time. My wife and I are looking forward to going out of town, visiting different countries and seeing the world."

Ramborger said he's planning a trip to China with a deaf group next year and is hoping to visit a different place each year now that he's retired.

"I'm going to have a good time," Ramborger said.

But retirement won't keep Ramborger away from the track completely.

"(Landrum coach) Russell Mahaffey and I have worked together for several years as co-directors of the 1A upper state meet, so I'm still going to help him with that as much as I can," Ramborger said.

Under Ramborger's leadership, SCSDB won National Deaf Championships in 1977 and 1978 with its boys team and in 1989 with its girls team.

The Green Hornets were also second-place finishers in the state 1A championships in 1977 and 1978.

"We had a very strong team those two years," said Ramborger, who added that one of the highlights of his coaching career was a dual meet victory against Woodruff in 1978.

"Willie Varner, the football coach, came up to me and shook my hand and said, 'congratulations.' He was really surprised, and that's something I'll never forget."

Ramborger, who has also coached football and boys basketball at SCSDB, said that track and field offers a competitive balance for his athletes that isn't found in other sports.

"The deaf can really compete on an equal basis with the hearing in track," Ramborger said.

A 1962 graduate of the California School for the Deaf in Riverside, Calif., and a 1968 graduate of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., Ramborger was a standout track and field competitor who specialized in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles.

He competed at the Deaf Olympics three times and later served as a five-time assistant coach for the U.S. Deaf Olympic team.

"I just love track," Ramborger said. "I love encouraging the boys and girls to become good men and women for the future. The athletes here, they feel like my own children."

©2007 Spartanburg Herald-Journal