Bill grew up in Otisco and attended District 46 Country School. When he was six years old he was stricken with polio and walked with crutches most of his childhood. He had a great love for sports even though he couldn’t play. As a kid he always listened to the Waseca Braves and the Minneapolis Lakers on the radio. He had surgery on his hip, leg and ankle and started 7th grade at Waseca Central High School on crutches. By his junior year, played intramural basketball, scoring 28 points in one game.
In Whitey Aamot’s Phy-Ed class, Bill scored a perfect 100 on a sports rules test, afterwards, Whitey along with Coach Don Larsen asked if he would be interested in being student manager for football. After never being able to play sports, needless to say he was thrilled. After football season, Manny Beckmann approached him and TOLD him that he would be the basketball and track manager. Bill went on to earn 10 varsity letters.
Bill was chosen by Principle Nygaard and coaches Beckmann and Larsen to take the ‘Cramer Student Trainer Extension Course’ in the care, treatment and prevention of athletic injuries. They selected him for this privilege because he assisted in the management of all three major sports. With the knowledge gained from this course, he was in a position to take over complete student management of Central’s athletic program.
Bill lettered three years in track. Some of his duties included; statistician, getting the sawdust pits ready, liming the lanes, setting up hurdles, ankle tapings and many analgesic rubs. He lettered three times in basketball and his duties there were; in charge of locker room, ankle tapings and statistician in charge of charting the games and compiling stats. No calculators, slide rules were the norm. Lechner lettered four times in football. He was assigned to be acting coach at Captain’s practice, in charge of charting the games and compiling the stats, called in the scores in to the radio and TV stations, laundered uniforms, repaired helmets and did ankle tapings. Game day duties included mowing and liming the yard lines on the football field. Bill also got to be the sports writer for the Waseca Journal, covering Jay’s football, when the late, great, Bob Gigeay was out of town.
Winning the conference in football and receiving his gold football is one of the highlights from his sports career. Others include; setting the school record for pull-ups with 32 and for climbing the rope in 4.9 seconds, scoring 28 pts in intramurals, scoring Archie Johnson’s record breaking 40 point game in basketball, and getting thrown in the showers by the team after a big win. The coaches and team always made Bill feel that he was a part of the team.
Bill was a three time class president and Student Council member, graduating in 1961. After high school, Bill attended Mankato State College and Chicago Technical School of Drafting. His job at Josten’s took him to California where he played and coached 2 years of City league basketball. After his son and daughter became involved with Bluejay sports, Bill became involved with wrestling. He was the official scorer and historian for 14 years, also filled in as announcer and timer. The Waseca Wrestling Club awarded him with the Don Eustice Support Award. He also received the1994-1995 Wrestling Fan of the Year. Bill made and donated the trophy stand used at the school, the standing Bluejay and for the past 25 years has made the wrestling graduation clock plaques for the WWC. He has filled in on Coaches Corner on KOWO when needed and has been a freelance sports writer, covering Bluejay football and wrestling for the Waseca Journal and the Waseca County News. He has volunteered and donated to many community events. Bill has framed and matted numerous Plasschaert prints for raffles and benefits.
Last year, he was nominated and selected to be portrayed in the ‘Portrait of Waseca County, 2008’. Bill was one of 16 selected for this pictorial exhibit presented by the Waseca Arts Council and David Morano, a photographic artist and instructor at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Bill has over 50 years of involvement with Waseca Bluejay sports as a participant, worker, volunteer and spectator. He is currently Vice President of the Bluejay Booster Club. Bill states that Waseca sports has been good to him and that his biggest thrill and proudest moment has to be when his son was wrestling for 3rd place at the State Wrestling Tournament and his daughter was a Bluejay cheerleader at mat side.
Bill is semi-retired but continues to do some framing with his business called Show Offs. Bill and his wife Karen have two children, Brad and Jennifer and five grandchildren, Emily, Baran, Zeli, Zane and Rylee.