About the Scholarship

About the Scholarship


The history behind the ‘Red’ Romo Scholarship started following his death. Red’s son and daughter, Rusty and Brynne Romo, received a letter.

3, September 99

Dear Rusty & Brynne,

I was greatly saddened to hear the news of your father’s death. I’m sorry I was in San Diego and couldn’t make the funeral, but my thoughts were with you.

I always thought Red was a great man and love his sense of humor and enjoyment of life. I’ll always remember how he helped me and the other midshipman at the Naval Academy.

Red was one of the most influential people in my life and I’ll always owe him a debt of gratitude. Being a midshipman at the Naval Academy was not easy but your father, probably more than anyone else at USNA, helped me graduate, without his guidance my life would be completely different let me tell you the story.

I came to the Naval Academy for many reasons-one of the most important was to play Navy football. Like most guys I’d seen the Army-Navy game as a kid and wanted to be part of the tradition. All my hero’s were Navy Football players- Bull Halsey Rodger-Dodger, my father who played for Lou little, thought the Navy Guys were “tough sons of a bitches”. That’s the greatest compliment from a guy from Brooklyn. The fact that I was 155 lbs 6ft and ran a 5.0 40 yard dash was just in my mind minor obstacles, I obviously wasn’t recruited but I had started for three years for the Florida State champions and knew that I could play the game if I got the chance.

As you have probably guessed by now nobody, I mean nobody, was willing to let me even practice with the Navy team. I guess looking back I can’t blame them I had no speed, no size, and no strength, but somehow I knew if I could just get to hit somebody, I mean, knock them out hit them, that I’d make the team. By now it was the end of Plebe summer and the freshman team was forming. This was not a fun time: I was racking up demerits and basically discovering that I was not going to survive the academy if I didn’t play football. During parent’s weekend, I told my parents I was going to leave if I didn’t make the team. Still, I had no idea how I’d do it.

The first day of practice is the day I’ll never forget. It’s the first day I met your Dad. Remember that this is a very regimented academy and there are formations for everything; classes, meals, and after class intramural sports, I sweated the entire day because I knew that in order to practice I had to somehow get on a list for Navy football.

If I skipped my intramural sports formation I could get demerits for “unauthorized absence” (75 Demerits/15hrs marching) but that was not the problem. I was concerned that if I lied and told the coaches I was on the list that I could get thrown out for an honor offense. I decided to pretend I was just another confused plebe. I showed up at the locker room jumped in the equipment issue line with a hundred other guys, my plan was to stay at the back of the line and just sort of jump when the opportunity presented itself. Now the plan was not quite as desperate as it sounds because I had a backup insurance policy- I had my high school helmet and shoes! Genius that I was I knew that the fact that my helmet was black as a kettle would be only a minor setback, somehow I’d get some Navy gold paint.

I guess your Dad heard the commotion because as I was pleading with the equipment manager he came over. I don’t think for a second your Dad believed I should be on the List Perhaps someone made a mistake.

R”¦E”¦I”¦D? Finally I just told him “Look this is my dream to play navy football and all I need is some Navy gold paint.” After the longest 30 seconds of my life your Dad looked at me up and down and said better tape those ankles.

The rest of the story is anti-climatic Red got me a real Navy gold helmet I taped my name on it and ran the slowest 40 yard dash in the history of Navy Football.

In the first three years I played a total of 1 minute and 36 seconds and held dummies at practice pretending to be some great player at Michigan or Notre Dame. All the time red would kid me that the NAAA was going broke taping my knee, ankles, wrist, ribs et al.

He always had a good story and would tell me that he was personally responsible for putting the dodger in Rodger and years later that David Robinson’s growth spurt was due to the fact that he had taped David’s ankles too tightly, “ He loved when I reported that he put the “Bull” in Halsey.

He was just a fun guy to be around and I knew that no matter what happened I could always talk to Red. Funny thing that while your Dad spent 30 minutes a day with me while I was a “bomber” (scout team guy) He spent a lot less time prior to practice once I finally started. Maybe he knew that I finally made the team and as a firstie would be ok.

To me, Red represented all that is good about the Naval Academy and Navy Football and I’m glad I knew him the way I knew him, as the guy who helped me accomplish my dream. I guess what I am trying to say is that even though I was just a no name no recruited dummy holder he treated me like I was a Heisman Trophy contender and I will never forget him.

I’m sorry for your loss and hope you know how much your father was loved by all of us.


Rusty started the Red Romo Scholarship Fund shortly after reading this letter. Re realized that over four decades of Navy athletes were tended to by the personable Romo.

Red’s wit and keen sense of humor often defused the training room prior to practice. During his 41 years at the Navy, he worked primarily with football, basketball, and baseball. He also spent time with lacrosse and crew. Red supervised all four of Navy’s Athletic training rooms and the training staff for 30 intercollegiate sport at the academy.

So, it made sense to Rusty to create a fund in his father’s name to benefit an intern trainer position for a graduate physical education major supporting Navy Team Sports in order to qualify for certification as professional trainers.

There are legions of former Naval Academy athletes who care recall stories about Red Romo and this is how we honor that memory.


Leon "Red" Romo was a legendary athletic trainer that spent 41 years at the Naval Academy caring for midshipmen athletes. Some of those athletes became Heisman Trophy winners, astronaut, admirals, generals and outstanding leaders of this country.

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The Red Romo Scholarship supports this multi-faceted mission by annually funding an intern trainer position for a graduate physical education major supporting Navy Team Sports in order to qualify for certification as professional trainers

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