Category Archives: Amateur Men’s Sports

Harry Wilson and Dena Schaper: Chicago Husband and Wife Team, A Driving Force For Women’s Basketball, Women’s Softball, and other Amateur Sports, 1921-1954; Essay by Robert Pruter

The married couple of Harry Wilson and Dena Schaper were significant contributors to the development of amateur and women sports during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. With Harry Wilson coaching and Dena Schaper playing, the two made the Taylor Trunks the greatest amateur team playing men’s rules basketball in the country. Harry Wilson went on to become a huge promoter and contributor of amateur and women sports in Chicago, particularly in basketball and softball. Continue reading

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Communist Football: Essay by Gabe Logan

“Communist Football” tells the story of Communist, workers, and leftist soccer competition in Chicago during the 1920s and 1930s. The essay is part of Gabe Logan’s 2019 history, The Early Years of Chicago Soccer, 1887-1939, a comprehensive and deeply researched history of amateur and professional soccer in Chicago during the early days of the sport. Continue reading

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Before Johnny Weismuller: How the Illinois Athletic Club Helped Forge the Modern Sport of Swimming and Create Olympians; Essay by Robert Pruter

The Illinois Athletic Club is best known has the home for the great Johnny Weismuller, the greatest swimmer of the 1920s and later Tarzan in the movies, but the club had built a foundation the previous decade producing world record holders and Olympians and dominating American national team championships. Continue reading

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The Birth of High School Gymnastics in Chicago; Essay by Robert Pruter

IIllinois since the 1920s has historically been among the top, if not the top, gymnastics programs in the high schools. The sport was pioneered in the state in Chicago, where high school physical education instructors, who came out of the German Turners and Czech Sokols, pioneered and promoted gymnastics competition in the Chicago Public High School League. Continue reading

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Indoor Golf: A Golden Age of Sports Craze for Working Gentlemen, Shopping Ladies, and Well-Bred High School Boys and Girls; Essay by Robert Pruter

Indoor golf was a rage in the major urban centers for two decades, from around 1910 to around 1930. It was largely an urban recreational activity, engaged in by gentlemen businessmen and upper middle class women shoppers during their downtown lunch break. It was also a competitive sport involving high school players to golf professionals. Continue reading

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Skating, Skiing, and Leif Ericson: Norwegians and their New Homeland in Chicago; Essay by Robert Pruter

Norwegian immigrants to Chicago played a huge role the development of winter sports in Chicago and suburbs, particularly speed skating, which became a major sport in the city during the 1920s and 1930s, and left a legacy of achievement that continued to send speed sskaters to the Olympics for decades afterwards. Continue reading

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