Youth group opens doors forted
Last in a four-part series on youth sports in Glenside.
I’ve been asked, “Where did you get the name Gorillas for your kid football team?” And the story is really quite simple. But to get there we have to turn back the hands of time all the way to the late 1940s.
There was, as I mentioned before, no organized youth football in Glenside when I was a boy. But, always the organizer, I managed to put together some sandlot games with my abundant Oak Road, Harrison and Lismore avenues playmates. The games were usually played on a vacant lot behind my Aunt Clare and Uncle Charlie’s Oak Road house, right off of Limekiln Pike.
I had a Hutch leather helmet and matching shoulder pads. I had a pair of padded football pants that would stop a bullet, but WKH RnOy VwHDWVKLUW , KDG WKDW wRuOG fiW RYHU the shoulder pads was a red one with a Roy Rogers picture printed on the front. My mom, Helen, turned it in to a football jersey by sewing a big white G over Roy and adding the number 1 to my back.
So one day I come home and I’m really bummed. I had a game all set, I’m dressed for the gridiron, it’s a crisp fall day, but two of my key players were called home for a nDS Ey WKHLU PRWKHUV. (, fiJuUH , wDV 8 RU 9 at the time). Anyway Mom asked me what happened. I told her and she replied, “ves it’s too bad when the Gorillas have to go home take a nap.” And at that moment the name “Glenside Gorillas” was born and when we started the kid football program, maybe 10 years later, the name was a natural.
But to fast forward again, the Gorillas are a success and it’s 1962. I’m a kid football celebrity booking Pop Warner bowl games nationwide and appearing at trade shows among them ones in New vork City, Charlotte, N.C, East Falls, Ga., and a football clinic at Delaware Valley College (where I presented a Pop Warner award to President James Work). But before that season was over, I was back to coaching again. This time I was one of three co-head coaches with Willow Grove’s Mick and Frank Pileggi of a team of youth all-stars called “The Pop Warner Little Scholars” – sponVRUHG, RI FRuUVH, Ey WKH nDWLRnDO RIfiFH.
The team was designated to play an indoor football game called The Sand Bowl at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Convention Hall against a team of south Jersey AllStars.
Former Gorilla player Paul Deery was on this club, along with other top local players from the Keystone State League. The game was incidental, we lost late on an interception, but the thrill of coaching indoors and before a large crowd was something to behold.
The kids, who stayed with the families of the rival team, were no more excited than we were.
J. Howard Savell, a Bell Telephone exec and resident of Pleasantville, N.J., was the game chairman and we were treated royally. I even became an honorary Atlantic City Lifeguard at the post game banquet held in the banquet room of the legendary Captain Starn’s.
Newly married and living in an apartment on Jenkintown Road in Ardsley I spent the early part of 1963 with the Pop :DUnHU nDWLRnDO RIfiFH. , NnHw WKDW , nHHGHG to start looking for a real job, one that had DFWuDO EHnHfiWV DnG GLGn’W IunFWLRn, DOEHLW nationally, from somebody’s kitchen table.
Not long after, and having declined a teaching job, which would have entailed a move to vork Pa., I joined this newspaper as a staff writer. I got back into coaching that fall, but this time in Willow Grove and WKH 85-SRunG WHDP. A GHFDGH ODWHU Py WwR sons, Chris and Pete, would play for Willow Grove, but not Glenside.
The next year, 1963, we bought a house in Hartsville in Warminster and before I knew it, I was co-founder (with the late Steve Szymanek, Lenny Good and Walt Thomas), and head 110-pound coach of the Warminster Pioneers midget football team (WvAO). This club, too, joined the KSL. :H RSHnHG RuU VHDVRn 6HSW. 15 DJDLnVW 6RuWKDPSWRn Ln Dn 85- DnG 110-SRunG GRuEOHKHDGHU. 2uU fiUVW wLn FDPH WKUHH weeks later when we topped Bill Harkins’ 2UHODnG 0uVWDnJV 18-0. , VSHnW MuVW RnH season there as coach, succeeding Szymanek as president that fall and turning the coaching job over to my assistant Bill Fornicola.
Following the regular season Mick Pileggi and I did a return trip to Atlantic City with a little scholars-like team (now called the Suburban All-Stars) and this time we won 19-12. Lee Blackway from the Pioneers 110-pound squad was on that team.
Little did I realize that after that Atlantic City contest, I’d never again, coach a midg- et football team. But life had other things in store for me – not only in football, but in baseball and even, professional golf.
While managing editor of the Willow Grove Guide and Public Spirit, and before launching my lifelong career in higher eduFDWLRn (fiUVW DW DUHxHO DV VSRUWV LnIRUPDWLRn director, later as a college teacher, coach and AD) I applied for the head coaching job at the newly-opened Archbishop Wood HLJK 6FKRRO (, nHYHU ODFNHG IRU VHOI-FRnfidence). I didn’t get the job, though I did get a nice letter from the athletic director, Father Mark Dangreau. But I was on my way to Wood, anyway. Named head coach was my midget football pal Mick Pileggi and I signed on as one of his assistant coaches (GHIHnVLYH EDFNfiHOG, Py KLJK VFKRRO SRsition). We worked hard but didn’t win a JDPH WKDW fiUVW VHDVRn, WKRuJK , GR UHPHPber a game I thought we’d win. It was with the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf at the Hatboro Horsham stadium where our JuyV wHUH KLJKOy FRnfiGHnW. ,W GLGn’W wRUN out the way we thought and the deaf kids handed us our heads.
Once I left the newspaper business for higher education it was not long before I was coaching again, this time the Ursinus College baseball team. I was PR director there, taught freshman English and, one day, I was also baseball coach.
My career has taken me a lot of neat SODFHV. , VHUYHG 18 yHDUV DV D FROOHJH athletics director (14 years at Spring Garden, also baseball coach, and four at Philadelphia Textile), I did a three-year stint as executive director of the Philadelphia chapter of the PGA (Professional Golf Association) and seven years in the sports card business as an executive with the Fleer Corp.
People have often said, “Boy you’ve had some great jobs,” and I have. And it all VWDUWHG RnH IDOO GDy Ln 1958 Rn WKH DWKOHWLF fiHOG DW GOHnVLGH (OHPHnWDUy 6FKRRO.
This then is a story not just about me, but about how kid sports evolved in this area. It’s about the time, money, devotion DnG SHUVRnDO VDFULfiFHV PDGH Ey PDny adults so that children would be able to experience organized athletics. And so, with this four-part series I felt that I needed to set the record straight and thank all the wonderful people that believed in an idea I had and who made it possible – it was all very real, even if it sometimes seemed like a dream.
Ted Taylor can be reached at email@example.com.