By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter
The sudden death of Stan Steidel on Monday will be sad news all across the state of Kentucky. For the last 29 years, he directed the All “A” Classic that provided high school athletes from Paducah to Pikeville a chance to compete for state titles in several sports.
Steidel never received a salary for his year-round work with the non-profit classic that he created. He always said he was “doing it for the kids” and considered it one of his most important contributions to Kentucky high school athletics.
“The coaches that I had in high school and college were amazing people who helped shape me into the person I am today,” he once said. “I knew early on that I wanted to follow in their footsteps and serve as coach and teacher to young men and women when I graduated from college.”
Steidel, 78, was athletic director at Holmes High School in Covington for the last several years. On Monday evening, faculty members received an email from the principal’s office that read: “I regret to inform you that Stan Steidel has passed away. He had a medical emergency on his way home from work today.”
Details of exactly what happened weren’t immediately available. Alvin Garrison, superintendent of Covington Independent Schools, did release a statement.
“He was a great leader and a great athletic director,” Garrison said. “We’re sorry for his family, our school family and, most of all, our student athletes. He will be missed dearly.”
Jack Moreland once worked with Steidel and became a close friend. He said they would always celebrate New Year’s Eve together with their wives.
“His health wasn’t good, but he sure didn’t let that get in his way,” Moreland said. “He’d go every day and do what he needed to do to take care of things for kids, so you had to admire him for that.”
Steidel graduated from Dayton High School in 1959 and returned in 1966 to become a teacher and coach. In his 34 years at Dayton, he coached baseball, football, and basketball. He also served as the school’s athletic director for 25 years.
Stan Steidel, left, congratulates former Holmes coach Mike Listerman after getting his 300th win.
While he was coaching at Dayton, Steidel led a movement to force the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to adopt a class system for high school basketball playoffs. When their lawsuit was unsuccessful, Steidel started the All “A” Classic boys basketball tournament for small schools.
Nine high school teams from Northern Kentucky competed in the first tournament in 1980. Ten years later, it became a statewide event with 16 regional champions competing in a small-school state tournament.
The All “A” Classic continued to grow under Steidel’s leadership. It now offers state tournaments in boys and girls basketball, soccer, golf, volleyball, baseball and softball.
“I know he had a board of directors, but he was a prime mover behind it all,” said Moreland, former superintendent of Dayton Independent Schools.
“I’ve had dozens of people say, ‘Why is Stan still doing all of that.’ I’d tell them the No. 1 thing is he wants to do it for the kids and No. 2 is he loves it himself. He did it because he loved to do it. I don’t think total retirement ever came to his mind.”
During his 53-year career in education, Steidel was president of the Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association and served four terms on the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control.
His primary goal in both of those positions was doing what’s best for student-athletes across the state.
“I’m not sure how many terms he served on the Board of Control, but he was there for quite a while and he was always doing something in that regard to make it better, too,” Moreland said. “Sometimes, they would make it more of a business and lose its focus in regards to kids and he would bring it back. So he had a big role he played with the Board of Control as well.”
Steidel also served as executive director of the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference and helped start an annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony to honor local athletes, coaches and contributors.
He was selected the Kentucky High School Athletic Director of the Year twice and inducted into the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010. The gym floor at Dayton High School was named in his honor last year.
“Stan Steidel has been a mainstay in Northern Kentucky athletics for the last five or six decades,” said former Holmes boys basketball coach Mike Listerman. “When you stop and think about that it’s a tremendous amount of time, but to Stan it was his life’s passion. He always wanted to do what’s best for the kids. That was his motivation and that’s why he continued to do it all the way up to (Monday).”