Youth group opens doors forted

The Willow Grove Guide - - OPINION -

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 ted@ted­tay­lor.com.

Ted Tay­lor

At Large

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