On the morning of Thursday December 14, the campus of Northeastern Junior College learned of the passing of their former head men’s basketball coach, Lowell Roumph. Coach Roumph held many different roles throughout his time at the college, from basketball coach to athletic director; but most of all he will be remembered as being a tremendous mentor and an even better friend. Funeral services will be at the Bank of Colorado Event Center on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 beginning at 10:30 am.
Coach Roumph was born in Wahoo, NE and attended Cedar Bluffs High School where he participated in both football and basketball. In football, he was the sixth leading scorer as a sophomore and in his junior season, the team finished ranked fourth in the state with 9-1 overall record, the best in school history at that time. He was named All Conference Honorable Mention and as a senior, the team was Co-Champions of the Conference and he was crowned Homecoming King. As a basketball player, he was the second leading scorer his junior year and was Captain of the team as a senior. His senior year, the basketball team won the Saunders County Championship finishing 14-2. Lowell was the leading scorer and accumulated 276 points on the season.
Upon graduating from Cedar Bluffs, Coach Roumph attended Wayne State College where he earned a Bachelor’s degree. His first title of Coach came at Scotus Central High School in Columbus, NE. At Scotus Central, Coach Roumph started mentoring student-athletes as an assistant for both football and track, as well as being named the boy’s basketball head coach. Along with coaching, he molded young minds by teaching biology and physical education for five years.
In 1968, Coach Roumph served as a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska Kearney earning his master’s degree. After one year, Coach Roumph found his new home on the northeast plains of Colorado in the town of Sterling where he became the assistant men’s basketball coach under NJCAA Hall of Famer Roy Edwards. The coaching duo amassed 545 victories and a national tournament appearance before Coach Roumph took over the reins of the program in 1981.
Under Coach Roumph’s leadership, the 1983-84 team made history with an 8th place finish at the national tournament and finished the season 35-5, the best record in the history of the program. He also led the team to a Region IX Championship and 7th place NJCAA National Tournament appearance in 1999-2000, before retiring in 2002.
Many players wore the Plainsmen jersey under Coach Roumph. All of his players knew what kind of coach he was and were grateful for the opportunity to play for him. In a media guide letter to Coach Roumph, Ken Shaw, a former player and future Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Famer wrote, “You were a no-nonsense guy, just like you are now. You told me exactly what it would be like without any embellishment.” Roumph knew that giving a player respect meant that you “tell it like it is”. That motto helped his players become decorated student-athletes. While Coach Roumph had several players earn accolades over the years, it certainly was a personal milestone to coach all three of his sons—Eric, Mike and Steve—each earning post season awards.
Coach Roumph will always be one of the greatest coaches to ever lead the Plainsmen on the court. He was a decorated coach throughout his life, as represented by the 716 total wins from his days at Scotus Central, as an assistant for Coach Roy Edwards, to his final game in 2002. Over half of his wins came when he was a head coach for the Plainsmen as he and his team earned 427 wins. One of those wins was acknowledged by ESPN when on February 9, 1991, the Plainsmen defeated Trinidad State on their home court to end a 131 home game winning streak of the Trojans. One year into retirement, Coach Roumph entered into the NJCAA Coaches Hall of Fame, only the fifth in Plainsmen history.
While much success was recorded in the win loss columns of Coach Roumph’s career, his mark on this life will always be that he touched the lives of countless students, student-athletes and community members in a very positive way. Coach Roumph possessed one of the kindest hearts.
Upon retirement, Coach Roumph never left the halls of the Bank of Colorado Event Center. Instead, he remained a prominent fixture providing mentorship and friendship to coaches, staff and students whom he visited with every day. Although Coach Roumph has passed, he will always be present in the hearts of the NJC family, and his spiritual presence remains at Plainsmen athletic events, wearing the black and gold.
Lowell is survived by his wife Judy, children Diane Roumph of Ft Collins, CO, Eric (Aimee) Roumph of Denver, CO, Mike Roumph of Pueblo, CO and Tessa, Sam & Austin Roumph of Sterling, CO; grandchildren Olivia & Alec Roumph, Josh Moser, Conner Roumph, Max Roumph, Chayse Roumph, and great-grandchild Remi Moser. Preceding Lowell in death are his parents, stepdad, and son Steven Scott Roumph.
For those wishing to attend but are unable, the service will be livestreamed here: https://thecube.com/event/767933