Growing up on a small farm 25 miles south of Green Bay helped make Tom Stadler the man he is today. One of six children, the family never had much money and chores left Tom little time for participating in school sports.
What the Stadler's did have was a competitive spirit and a zest for life which is evident anytime the Stadler's get together.
Because the school band program took place during the regular school day, Tom was able to participate and still fulfill his farm duties. He played trumpet in elementary school but switched to trombone in high school. With a music scholarship and help from an Aunt, Tom left Wisconsin for Butler University in Indiana where he met his wife, Joanne. They settled in Fortville, Ind. and raised three sons who excelled in sports. The oldest in swimming and tennis, the other two in basketball and soccer.
Tom taught grade 6 to 12 instrumental music for 36 years at Mt. Vernon school right across the street from his house. He loved his job and the kids loved him. A career highlight came in 1994 when he started a steel drum band. As it was the only one in Indiana, they were invited to perform at a wide variety of events from state dinners to state fairs. Tom loved his career from the first day to the last and feels very blessed to have been in a job which brought so much satisfaction. He attributes his success to treating others the way he'd like to be treated.
Tom's sports background was limited to some basketball in his tiny elementary school and lots of baseball in the yard with his siblings and neighbors. As an adult, Tom did play quite a bit of tennis.
On a one week visit to his sister's place in Tanglewood, he was exposed to pickleball and loved it immediately. Tom's tennis skills translated well to the smaller courts. In 2009, The Stadler's bought a house in Tanglewood and Tom was hooked on pickleball. He now plays seven days a week and is the chair of the Pickleball Club. He continues to work to control his loud, excited outbursts when he and his partner make great plays.
One of Tom's pickleball highlights was playing in his first tournament with his sister, Betty. Tom was thrilled to make it to the finals in their age group of the Heartland Games. As he entered the court, a nervous wreck, one of his opponents asked if he was ready to take a drubbing. Needless to say, Tom was ecstatic to walk off the court with the gold medal. Another triumphant moment came when he and partner Roger Binette qualified for this year's National Senior Games by placing second in the 65-69 age bracket at the Florida State Games held in Polk County in December.
Tom has adapted well to retirement. His winter months spent in Tanglewood are treasured. In addition to daily pickleball, Tom plays water volleyball three times a week, and shuffleboard intermittently. He is an avid card player, enjoying euchre and bid euchre nights. Tom prefers any card game to watching television.
Back in Indiana, Tom volunteers one day a week at Riley Children's Hospital where he devotes time to children hospitalized for long periods of time whose parents can't be with them often. These children need physical contact and Tom gets the greatest feeling from picking up a crying baby, holding, rocking and singing to it.
Tom admits that he is still a kid at heart who often doesn't act his age but would drop anything to help someone in need.
Good luck to Tom as he represents Tanglewood and Indiana at this year's National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday.