Grambau to be inducted into state softball Hall of Fame

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor

There have been some coaching greats inducted into high school hall of fames, especially an elite group from Rogers City High School. There’s the late Warren Gleason in wrestling, Howard Madsen in baseball and Bob Brietzke in football. 

Well, add longtime softball coach Karl Grambau, 66, to the list after he received a phone call last Thursday that he will be inducted into the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Jan. 26, 2024.

Grambau, who led the 2014 Huron girls’ softball team to a state title, and we are almost upon the 10th anniversary of that special season, will have a picture and a plaque placed in the halls of the Michigan High School Athletic Association in East Lansing. He will be the only inductee in 2024. Grambau is only the third-ever softball coach in the history of the program, taking over for Charlie Fairbanks in 2003, who followed in the footsteps of founder Jerry Chrzan.  In 20 years of coaching softball his record is 531-206 with a 72 percent winning percentage.

KARL GRAMBAU at the Division 4 final-four with all-staters Kayla Rabeau and Hannah Fleming. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

“We have played against 107 different schools during my years coaching softball,” said Grambau, “And competed well against some of the biggest schools and best programs in the state through the years.”

Along with the state title, the Hurons were state runners-up in 2004 and made it to the final-four in 2013, 2018 and 2019. 

“In 2005, we were ranked No. 1 the entire season and we lost in the pre-district, and that was a tough one,” said Grambau. “We lost to my good friend, Gary Bisson, and the Hillman Tigers. Shortly after that, I got Gary to come over and assist us in Rogers City.

“I always say, we had the best team in Division 4 that year, but we just had one bad game.”

There was a district drought for seven years, before Grambau and the Hurons cranked it up, starting in 2012, winning nine-straight before a tough loss to Hillman in 2022 in extra innings and another tough loss last year against heavy favorite, Inland Lakes, in 2023. He has been in seven regional trophy picture poses, including four-straight.

“I feel honored to be chosen because there have been a lot of great coaches in the state in Michigan, and I inherited a great program,” said Grambau. “When I took over for Charlie, I felt pressure to keep it going.

“I have had great assistant coaches through the years, Mike Grulke, who was just wonderful. There was Chuck Krueger, Gary and Paula Pietsch, and then ultimately Gary Bisson, who has been my righthand man. I would not have received this honor without the great volunteers.”

He had the same thing to say about the players that have donned the school colors over years, and the ones that soon will be here. 

“I enjoy the game and coaching,” Grambau continued. “It’s a new challenge every year. 

“We do have a really good bunch of kids coming through Little League right now, who have had success at the state tournament, and they are excited about softball. I see another wave of kids coming through and it will keep Rogers City softball in good shape.”