Posts Tagged ‘Windber’

Single-Wing Article in Sports Illustrated

December 2, 2008

The December 1 issue of Sports Illustrated has an article on the single-wing. The writer, Tim Layden, first discusses the formation’s current use at Apopka High 15 miles northwest of Orlando and in the NFL by the Dolphins in their unexpected victory over the unsuspecting New England Patriots. Also mentioned is Todd Bross, organizer of the annual spring conclave at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. (It was Todd Bross and Ted Seay who urged me to research Pop Warner’s correspondence course in football that was first published in 1908). Layden discussed the renaissance the single-wing is undergoing but was apparently unaware that little Windber Area High School is running it as he was probably unaware of my documentary in which they were featured.

The article talks about viewing old films over Ed Racely’s garage on Cape Cod. Racely, now 80, has been studying the single-wing longer than anyone. Layden then goes into the single-wing’s history beginning with President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 threat to ban the game unless rule changes weren’t made to clean up the game. He goes on the mention that Pop Warner coached Carlisle Indian School from 1907 to 1914 and quotes Warner as having first used early incarnations of the single wing by the Carlisle Indians in response to the 1906 rule changes. He is apparently unaware of Pop’s earlier tenure at Carlisle (1899-1903) and of my research that uncovered Warner’s weeklong visit with the Carlisle coaches shortly before the start of the 1906 season. He made no mention of the revisions to Warner’s correspondence course between 1909 and 1911, nor did he mention my publication of the offense pamphlets from the correspondence course. The diagrams found those pamphlets represent the earliest known documentation of the single-wing. A 1924 newspaper interview of Warner was accompanied by a diagram of a formation that “The Old Fox” designed in 1902 to protect injured linemen Antonio Lubo, Martin Wheelock and Albert Exendine and to adjust for injured first-string center, Nikifer Schouchuk. It’s too bad that wingback diagram wasn’t made public a couple of decades earlier. The Sports Illustrated article can be found at:

More Native Americans in 1912 Olympics

August 25, 2008


I previously overlooked a Native American who competed in the 1912 Olympics because he was not an American Indian. Duke Kahanamoku (real name Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku) of Hawaii was, not surprisingly, America’s best swimmer. Also not surprising is that the AAU did not recognize his records until much later. They initially claimed that the judges must have been using alarm clocks rather than stopwatches, and later conjectured that he had been aided by ocean currents. Fortunately, the AAU did not operate the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games.


In the Olympic trials, Duke broke the 200-meter freestyle record when swimming his leg in a heat for the 4×200 relay. At Stockholm, he won the gold medal for the 100-meter freestyle and silver as a member of the relay team. The 1916 Berlin Games were postponed until 1936 due to the outbreak of World War I. Antwerp, Belgium was awarded the honor of hosting the 1920 games because of the devastation Belgium experienced in The Great War. Duke crossed the Atlantic to compete again. This time he brought home two golds; one for the 100-meter freestyle and one for the relay. Fellow Hawaiian Pua Kele Kealoha came in second to Duke in the 100-meter freestyle and was a member of the gold-medal-winning relay team. Warren Paola Kealoha, Pua’s brother,  won the gold in the 100-meter backstroke and repeated the feat in the 1924 games.


Duke crossed the Atlantic yet again in 1924 for the Paris Games where he came in second in the 100-meter freestyle, losing to Windber, PA’s own future Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller. His younger brother, Samuel Kahanamoku, took home the bronze medal.Duke did not medal in the 1928 games but participated in the Olympics again in 1932, this time as an alternate on the bronze-medal-winning water polo team.


But swimming was just a means to an end for Kahanamoku – to his surfboard, that is. Growing up on the outskirts of Waikiki (near the present site of the Hilton Hawaiian Village), it was natural that Duke would take up surfing, but how he became the father of surfing is a story for another time.



Duke with short board

Duke with short board





We Are the Ramblers

July 4, 2008

In 2006 while making a documentary on the single-wing formation I had the pleasure of visiting with the Windber Area High School football team because they are now running the single-wing – again. During the course of events I was made aware of a few parts of Windber’s storied history and, just before leaving town, met Carl Mayer who was then working on a history of Windber football. Last week I learned that his work is now available in book form and, while acquiring my copy, asked Carl for a physical description of the book because I haven’t seen it yet. In his words:

“The front and back covers of this soft cover book are in color, all photographs on the inside are black and white, just as you assumed. It is an 8.5 X 11 inch book with 304 pages. This book covers the history of Windber High School football from its beginning up to the 2007 season. Included are numerous stories pertaining to venues played and the role Camp Hamilton has played in its history. Team photographs are included from 1914 thru 2007 (Except for 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1919, they could not be found) with these team photographs are records for that football year and starting line-ups. Also included are drawings and caricatures from the late 1950’s, each of which tell a story.”

If you are interested in knowing more about We Are the Ramblers, click on the book link at the right. BTW, Windber was the home of Johnny Weismiller but I don’t think he played football. Carl can set you straight if I’m wrong.  He can be reached at


Forbes Road

June 23, 2008

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the building (perhaps hewing may be more accurate) of Forbes Road. The Seven Years War between France and Britain was raging around the globe. Pennsylvania found itself at the epicenter of the North American theater of what Americans generally call the French and Indian War. General Forbes set out from Carlisle in 1758 to take Fort Duquesne (present-day Pittsburgh) from the French. He followed Indian paths from Carlisle south along what is today Route 11 to Chambersburg and headed west along what later became Route 30. He widened and improved the crude existing roads and, beginning at Bedford hacked his way west to Pittsburgh. 157 years later, in 1915, Pop Warner likely followed the same route when he left Carlisle to take the reins at the University of Pittsburgh.

Warner took more than his belongings to Pitt; he also took his single- and double-wing offenses. But before football season started, he held a summer camp for his players at Camp Hamilton, a facility Pitt owned just outside the town of Windber. To get to Windber, Warner would have backtracked on Forbes Road past Ft. Ligonier and halfway to Bedford before heading north to Camp Hamilton. It was at Camp Hamilton that Pop schooled his new players in the intricacies of the single- and double-wing. Many Carlisle players headed west to Altoona and Pittsburgh to play for independent teams, but they would not have followed Forbes Road because they most likely traveled by train.

Camp Hamilton became an expensive luxury for Pitt during the Depression, so ownership of it passed to Windber Area School District. In 2003, after posting Windber’s 500th win, Coach Phil DeMarco was looking for something new. That something new turned out to be the single-wing. So, the single-wing returned to Camp Hamilton after a long absence, not so long, however, as Pop Warner’s absence from Pittsburgh. Windber ran the single-wing at Camp Hamilton back in the 1930s when they won two state championships with it by beating John Harris one year and Steelton another.

The 250th anniversary of Forbes Road celebrates more history than the victory of the British over the French, it also honors the opening of the Northwest Territory to settlement and other things that traveled along the road, wanted or not.