Bill Schmidt, son of Frederick and Alice, grew up on a farm south of Renville, Minn., along with brother Rick and sisters Susan, Ellen, and Cathy. His father passed away from leukemia when Bill was an eighth grader. While helping brother Rick on the farm, Bill played football, baseball and participated in wrestling. Schmidt was a football captain and named MVP as a senior while being voted Homecoming King. Bill was a six-year starter in wrestling and was never pinned throughout his high school career. Schmidt placed fifth at state as a junior and was a state champ at 145# in the one-class system. Schmidt was the first individual state champion (in any sport) from the 212 Conference. Schmidt credits his Renville High School Coach Jim Phillips and team-mate Paul Olson as being responsible for the success he enjoyed in wrestling.
Schmidt attended Augsburg College majoring in mathematics and had the privilege of wrestling for the legendary John Grygelko who may best be described as a character with character. Schmidt was a three-time MIAC Conference Champion and a three-time NAIA All-American, placing fourth, fifth, and second at Nationals at 150#. Schmidt was unable to wrestle as a senior at Augsburg due to a neck injury suffered while wrestling in Japan and Korea. He still served as captain and was voted Team MVP by his Augsburg team-mates that final year.
After graduating from Augsburg, Schmidt was hired to teach mathematics and coach wrestling in Mosinee, Wis. After two years at Mosinee, Bill and his wife Jill moved to Winona, Minn., where Bill taught mathematics and served as head wrestling coach and assistant cross country coach. With Schmidt at the helm the wrestling program produced 24 state qualifiers and 12 place-winners along with one state champion in 12 years. Bill was voted Minnesota Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1989. Schmidt had to confess that much the success gleaned by Winona wrestlers in the 1980s was due to an outstanding assistant wrestling coach by the name of Pappas. It was a sincere thrill for Bill to watch his wrestlers compete at the next level. At one point, Augsburg had five Winona wrestlers in the starting line-up. He also took pride in seeing many of his wrestlers go on to coach wrestling at various levels around the state.
After retiring from coaching wrestling at the varsity level, Bill served as assistant MWCA director under Bartelma Hall of Famer Roger Gorham for nine years and then executive director for eight years before collaborating with Bartelma Hall of Fame Chair Steve Ricard and heading up the Mr. Minnesota as well as head and assistant Coach of the Year committees. Schmidt has continued to coach youth wrestling along with youth softball and baseball throughout the past 30 years.
Bill and Jill have served on the Winona High Football Chain Gang for the past 38 years and the Winona State Chain Gang for 34 years along with their son Sam and daughter Sundra. Bill and Jill were recently honored with the Ashley for the Arts Humanitarian Award for their many hours of volunteer work with the youth of the Winona community. Schmidt is also a member of the Winona Wrestling, Augsburg Athletic, and Bartelma (MWCA) Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Bill and Jill have been blessed to have both of their children and families within a stone’s throw of their home. Daughter Sundra teaches English and Spanish at Winona Senior High while her husband serves as a Park and Recreation assistant director in Winona. They have two children, Avrielle and August. Son Samuel, four houses down, teaches mathematics at Winona State and his wife, Jessica, is a kindergarten teacher in the Winona District. They also have three children, Sophie, Graham, and little Lucy.