Bill Schmidt, of Winona, has been declared a 2019 Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association (MWCA) Hall of Fame inductee.
Schmidt, son of Frederick and Alice, grew up on a farm by Renville, Minn., with four siblings, Susan, Rick, Ellen and Cathy, while attending Renville High School (1968-1972). His father passed away of cancer when Schmidt was in eighth grade.
While helping on the farm, Schmidt played football where he was captain and MVP his senior year. He was homecoming king that year, as well. He played baseball and started three years on varsity. Schmidt was a six-year starter in wrestling where, as a junior, he was ranked fifth in the state, and as a senior earned State Champion status at 145 pounds (one-class system) and was the first 212 Conference State Champ. Schmidt went on to college and wrestled at Augsburg, where he was a three-time MIAC Conference Champ, as well as a NAIA National All-American at 150 pounds (fourth, fifth, and second). Schmidt did not wrestle his senior year due to a neck injury while wrestling in Japan and Korea. His teammates at Augsburg still voted him MVP and captain his senior year.
Schmidt spent two years in Mosinee, Wis., coaching wrestling and teaching math. In 1978, he got the head wrestling/math position in Winona, and has been living here ever since. Schmidt coached a variety of sports in Winona, including wrestling, cross country, baseball and girls softball. The wrestling position was his passion, producing 24 state qualifies, 12 place winners, one state champ and many wrestlers that went on to become head/assistant/youth coaches — his biggest joy. Schmidt was voted Minnesota Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1989. He served as assistant director of the MWCA under Hall-of-Famer Roger Gorham (nine years), then became the executive director of the MWCA (eight years) and is still chair of the Mr. Minnesota Wrestler/Head Coach/Assistant Coach of the Year committees. Schmidt writes the biographies submitted to the National Wrestling Committee for higher consideration. He assists Steve Ricard with the Bartelma Hall of Fame event. Schmidt and his wife, Jill, have run the Winona High football chains for 37 years along with their son, Sam, and occasionally their daughter, Sundra, as well. They have also run the football chains for Winona State University (33 years).
Bill and Jill have two children, Sundra (Patrick) Menton and Sam (Jessica), and four grandchildren, Avri, August, Sophie and Graham. Schmidt is a member of the Winona Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Augsburg Wrestling Hall of Fame. He and Jill were honored with the Ashley of the Arts Humanitarian Award (2018) for their many hours of volunteer work for the youth in Winona.
On Saturday, May 4, there will be an induction dinner for Schmidt and the other 2019 inductees, Marty Aho, contributor; Chad Erikson, athlete; Brad Gibson, athlete; Maury Meyer, coach; Doug Paulson, contributor; Dennis Schermerhorn, contributor; and Wes Tessman, coach. The dinner will be held at McKinney’s on Southside (attached to the Country Inn hotel), 300 14th Street South, Benson, Minn. The evening will begin with a social hour at 4 p.m., followed by the dinner at 5 and the induction ceremony at 5:30. Tickets are $33. Checks can be made to MWCA, and sent to Steve Ricard, 405 15th Street North, Benson, Minn., 56215. Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, and if you would like to be seated next to a certain inductee with the check. If you have any questions you may call Ricard at 320-444-0569 (cell) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a reservation at the Country Inn, call 1-866-843-4394.