Roman Speegle

Athletics, Staff

Roman Speegle

10 minutes
Interview/Event Date: 
Biographical note: 

From the 1976 Rochester Review: Roman Speegle (1901-1977) was a member of the University's then Department of Physical Education from 1926 until his retirement in 1963 when he was named professor emeritus of physical education. He served as swimming coach from the establishment of the sport at Rochester in 1931 until 1962, compiling a record of 134 wins, 122 losses, and three ties. He also served as freshman football coach and varsity track coach.

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The views expressed in the recordings and transcripts on this website are those of the speakers, and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the University of Rochester.
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Rex, the Piddlin' Pup
(Lyricist unknown)
A farmers' dog came into town,
His Christian name was Rex,
A noble pedigree had he,
Unusual was his text.
And as he trotted down the street
`Twas beautiful to see,
His work on every corner-
His work on every tree

He watered every gateway too,
And never missed a post.
For piddling was his specialty,
And piddling was his boast
The City Curs looked on, amazed
With deep and jealous rage,
To see a simple country dog
The piddler of the age.

Then all the dogs from everywhere
Were summoned with a yell,
To sniff the country stranger o'er
And judge him by the smell.
Some thought that he a king might be,
Beneath his tail a rose,
So every dog drew near to him
And sniffed him up their nose.

They smelled him over one by one,
They smelled him two by two,
And noble Rex, in high disdain,
Stood still till they were through.
Then just to show the whole Shebang,
He didn't give a damn,
He trotted in a grocery store,
And piddled on a ham.

He piddled in a mackeral keg-
He piddled on the floor,
And when the grocer kicked him out
He piddled through the door.
Behind him all the city dogs,
Lined up with instinct true,
To start a piddling carnival,
And see the stranger through.

They showed him every piddling post,
They had in all the town,
And started in with many a wink,
To piddle the stranger down.
They sent for champion piddlers
Who were always on the go,
Who sometimes did a piddling stunt
Or gave a piddle show.

They sprung these on him suddenly
When midway through the town,
Rex only smiled and polished off
The ablest white or brown.
For Rex was with them every trick,
With vigor and with vim.
A thousand piddles more or less
Were all the same to him.

So he was wetting merrily,
With hind leg kicking high,
When most were hoisting legs in bluff,
And piddling mighty dry.
On and on, Rex sought new grounds,
By piles and scraps and rust.
Till every city dog went dry,
And piddled only dust

But on and on went noble Rex,
As wet as any rill,
And all the champion city pups
were piddled to a standstill.
Then Rex did free-hand piddling,
With fancy flirts and flits,
Like "double dip" and "gimlet twist",
And all those latest hits.

And all the time this country dog ,
Did never wink or grin,
But piddled blithely out of town,
As he had piddled in.

The city dogs, a conversation held,
To ask, "What did defeat us?"
But no one ever put them wise
That Rex had diabetes!

Transcription of the Speegle Pool Dedication

David Ocorr: In behalf of alumni, colleagues, and I will say current students today because the Speegle tradition is here every day with us, I’d like to spend just a minute.  I guess I should start and address the groups as friends, Roman, and countrymen.  I came here as a student in 1947, and Speed was holding court, of course, then.  I came back to the university as a full-time coach and teacher in 1960 and had, I think, the finest education in physical education for anyone who had to teach the service program.  The mentor, of course, was Roman Speegle. 

So that it’s with great pleasure that I get a chance to say a couple words representing alumni and colleagues.  In our business, we teach some basic lessons, and I think Speed is the person who best has exemplified this over many years.  We like to still say that we try to develop three bones in the anatomical makeup of our students.  One, a backbone, of course.  Speed always was for that.  He made you work.  He was for courage.  His own life is a story of courage.  The other bone we try to develop with college students is a wishbone. 

And certainly, Speed instilled that in all of us, to try to do your best, from the swimmer and the non-swimmer, in the basic teaching, overcoming of fear, overcoming of a lot of physical problems.  Speed worked on this.  I think the other bone that he developed so beautifully is the funny bone in all of us.  That we could laugh at our mistakes, have some fun, and have a sociability about all this competitive world we live in.  I think the most pleasant week I’ve ever spent at this university has been this last one [laughs], contrary to maybe what you’ve read in the newspapers downtown this week. 

This week I had a chance to field, if you will, all the letters from people who couldn’t be here, who regard Speed with love.  That’s the only word you can say, love.  On behalf of alumni and colleagues, Speed, we’re so proud that this has happened and so pleased you could be here.  At this time, I would like to introduce the president of the university, Robert Sproull, to speak on behalf of the university.


Robert Sproull: Thank you, Dave.  Roman Speegle was one of our great coaches and teachers.  The large number honoring him here today and the enthusiasm you’ve shown prove that popularity.  I don’t intend to recite the details of his long and excellent service when most of you know them far better than I do and when the record speaks so eloquently for itself.  He also represents the old-fashioned virtue of loyalty, loyalty to an institution and loyalty to an ideal.  In 37 years of active service at Rochester, he took on many, many kinds of responsibility, at times going far beyond the walls of the physical education department. 

He always stayed near students and the needs of students.  He taught.  He imposed standards and discipline.  And he worked to promote the ideal of the sound mind and a sound body, an ancient Roman, sic, ideal that never has been improved.  He contributed to the making of the small, almost personal, university that alumni remember with such warmth and affection.  Everyone called him Speed and came to listen when he told stories or played his guitar.  Freshman orientation can be a pretty prosaic exercise with counseling, advising, and lots of speeches, but in Speed’s time, I’m told that it sparkled. 

And his management of Todd Union as an extra chore during World War II put some new animation in that institution, as well. 

Speed Speegle helped to develop the athletic program that the university has preferred since Rush Rhees’s time, a program in which students can compete at their own highest level in whatever sport they choose.  It is not an easy program to run.  It’s not an easy program to explain to outsiders, including reporters, but it is the right one for our students and our university.  And Speed’s career shows that it can be successful and it can be fun. 

The alumni saluted Roman Speegle in 1960 when they gave him a formal citation.  Today we salute him again by attaching his name to the pool where he coached and taught.  The plaque that his son Jim will now unveil is a permanent mark of our respect and our goodwill.  Jim--


James Speegle: I’ve been asked to read the inscription on here.  This pool is named in honor of Roman Leo Speegle, member of the faculty of physical education for men, 1926-1963.  Exemplary coach and teacher, he will long be remembered for his warmth and good spirits and for the sportsmanship and skill he represented and passed on to generations of students.  And other generations, I might add.


Roman Speegle: Good afternoon, people.  My doctor gave me a minute and a half to talk.  Harm just shortened it up to 30 seconds.  I’ve been worrying about that because last night I thought, how in the world can I bring to these people all these great thoughts in a minute and a half?  Then I happened to think, well, I don’t have any great thoughts, so I shouldn’t have any difficulty.  It is great to be here.  I’m very, very flattered, pleased, and grateful to come back to the old place, the same walls, probably the same water [laughter], the same smell in the locker rooms, which I haven’t been in yet.  A lot of familiar faces, although some of them have changed a little bit. 

I just want to extend my deep appreciation and thanks for the people that have brought this about, and I would be less than honored—less than honest, if I said I am not thrilled because I really am.  I think back over the days of the department, physical education, athletic department--what happy days they were. We had good men. We had good students. We had good teams. We had our bad days, but it was a group, as I recall, worked together.  We enjoyed each other.  We enjoyed our work.  We enjoyed our teams. 

We enjoyed and appreciated working for the university.  We always felt that that feeling was reciprocal.  So, on behalf of myself, particularly, and my wife, Peggy, over there, and the memory of my former wife Betty, who many of you knew; Jim, my son here, Liz, his wife, my two grandsons, Scott and Doug, who are both happen to be named Speegle, the same as the pool.  I did get them named after me.  Judy, who changed her name.  She got tired of Speegle.  She lives out in Grand Teton with three grandsons.  And on behalf of all the folks, I want to express our appreciation and deep and heartfelt thanks.  Thank you.  God bless you.