A certificate recognizes Roger Grundahl’s 50 years as a WIAA referee.
A certificate recognizes Roger Grundahl’s 50 years as a WIAA referee.

   Referees often are accused of having big egos.

   Longtime referee and Ripon native Roger Grundahl is the first to admit there’s some truth to that.

   Grundahl is retiring after 50 years of being a licensed Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) official and is proud of the accomplishment.

   “In my case, it’s just saying that I did it,” he said of being proud to do the job for 50 years. “That’s an ego trip, but I guess that goes with it.”

   Grundahl began refereeing in the fall of 1967 with a junior varsity wrestling match in Reedsburg, Wis. The start followed an unusual and unexpected introduction he had to the sport.

   “I’m in a very unique situation because I never wrestled in my life,” he said. “I spent four years in Reedsburg and a coach said that he needed some extra help. The principal pointed me out and that’s where I learned my wrestling.

   I learned it on the mat, not from watching films or anything like that. I started wrestling as a coach in Reedsburg in November, and [in] December I took a freshman team to Portage for a first match.”

   At that time, Grundahl didn’t expect the experience would lead him to half a century refereeing.

   “No, not at all,” he said. “I look back and I can be thankful for my first wife for putting up with that. I taught school all day and then jump in a car and I’m gone until 10:30 or 11:30 at night and [she] is home with the kids.”

   Grundahl moved from Reedsburg to Ripon in 1968, one year after beginning his refereeing career, to take a job as a teacher at Ripon Middle School.

Read the full story, which include information on some of Roger's challenges along the way, in the July 5, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.