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The Anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania has produced some of the finest athletes our country has known. In high school football, our schools are frequent winners of regional and state championships and nobody knew those teams and their coaches better than Bernie Romanoski.
No WISL Hall of Fame entry would be complete without a little background history. Bernie was born on August 25th 1922, was a 1941 graduate of Coal Township High School and was a lifelong resident of the Shamokin-Coal Township area. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and reached the rank of Sergeant. He served in both the North African and Italian campaigns of World War II. Before his honorable discharge in 1945 he earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service in combat.
During his High School years he began a career in sports that would last 70 years. Having been an All-State athlete in high school, his skill on the field led to a coaching career at Coal Township High School which began in 1949. The Demons saw much success under Romanoski’s leadership. Along with Hall of Fame coach Walt Marshall, they won the Eastern Conference Titles in both 1950 and 1955. In the 1960’s he coached with another Hall of Famer, Ed “Beaners” Binoski and took the Eastern Conference, Southern Division Titles in both 1960 and 1964. After years of coaching the Coal Township football team, he moved to the Shamokin Area High School, where he coached Football, Basketball, Baseball, Track and Golf until 1968.
For many years he also served as the Athletic director at Shamokin Area and is credited with bringing many innovations and improvements to their athletic policy and facilities. It was also under his leadership that Shamokin Area’s prominence as a PIAA Post-Season playing site began.
Bernie also served as a PIAA official for 40 years. His certifications included Football, Basketball and Baseball and he was a frequent official for championship games in all three sports.
Bernie’s love for sports and the people that played them seemed to naturally bring him to the field of broadcasting. He spent many years covering and promoting area sports on Shamokin’s WETV television station and on WISL Radio. His involvement with WISL started in 1970 and weekly radio program became a “who’s who” of local sports and everybody got their chance to be part of the program. Bernie would cover all sports and in many cases his guests would pack the WISL studios. Bernie also wrote weekly sports columns for the Shamokin News-Dispatch and the News Item.
Every Saturday Morning Bernie’s program would take to the air. Tom Kutza would often run the show to make sure something was actually being broadcast and also to let Bernie do what he did best; talk sports. Listeners will remember the many comical program opens that the guys at WISL produced, you can hear many of these original opening in the audio exhibits below. The programs were often lively with good-natured wise-cracking between the guests, Tom and Bernie. The show was also a local forum and Bernie would often take callers to talk about the local sports happenings of the day. He even held trivia contests to test the listener’s knowledge of sports history, giving them a chance to win tickets to a movie at UA Theaters in Frackville or a Whopper at the Burger King. Bernie’s programs were never strictly planned or scripted and he always took time to talk about the lives of the players, and their families.
He used his broadcasting career to further his desire to serve the community and give back by hosting numerous radiothons on WISL and telethons on WETV. Over the years, these events raised thousands of dollars for the American Heart Association, The Shamokin Hospital and other organizations.
However, his crowning achievement may have been the sports hall of fame that bears his name. Along with other area sports enthusiasts, Romanoski was able to bring the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame to the Lower Anthracite Region. In 1984 The Bernie Romanoski Sports Hall of Fame was created and today under the leadership of his son Bernie Romanoski Jr. continues the tradition of honoring the best student athletes the area has to offer. Bernie passed away in 2008.
We are very lucky to be able to present to you some amazing artifacts from the collection of Bernie Romanoski Jr. In addition to sharing some fantastic photos and newspaper clippings, he was kind enough to give us a number of reel to reel tapes and cassettes he found in his father’s estate. We would also like to thank Larry Deklinski for granting us permission to publish some great shots he had found in the Thomas Collection.
As you enjoy these artifacts, we invite you to share your memories of Bernie in the comment boxes below. We are always interested to hear your thoughts and stories!
W. C. Fields
W.C. Fields & Ralph Cramden (Romanoski’s Caravan To Hershey)
The Lone Ranger
The Cereal Bowl Football Game
Ted Baxter & The President
Surprise Birthday Party For Bernie
Shamokin Indians Cheerleaders Cheer For Bernie
Pete Wambach – It’s A Miserable Day In Pennsylvania
Pete DeRito’s New Years Message To Bernie
Pete DeRito’s Birthday Message To Bernie
New Year’s Eve Party
Happy Birthday To Bernie
Bernie’s Letter To Santa
Bernie The Basketball Player (From WAZL Radio in Hazleton)
Bernie Is President Of The Mickey Mouse Fan Club
Bernie Romanoski Sports Show – Mike Klembara & Players on Lourdes Winning The Eastern Conference Class A Co-Championship 1974
Bernie Romanoski Sports Show – Shamokin Area Golf Coach Interview 1991
Bernie Romanoski Sports Show – Shamokin Indians Football 1991
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