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From the Collection of Will Lomen

In 1940, Gil Dobie (1908-1916, 59-0-3) met with a group of his former Washington players at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle, making the long trip by train from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The event, which was organized by his players, was led by legendary Washington quarterback Wee Coyle (1908-1911).

The event was well-covered by both Seattle newspapers, The Seattle Times and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (namely by sportswriter Royal Brougham at the P-I). During the trip, Dobie met with UW head coach Jim Phelan and toured the campus, as well as Husky Stadium.

Will Lomen, a grandson of Coyle, commemorates this reunion with an exact copy of the thank-you letter written by Dobie to his grandfather and an old photo taken at the get-together.

Will says it all.

"If you are looking for something that shows the affection the 'old gang' had for their coach and he for them, this is it. He (Dobie) takes a train clear across the country to see his 'boys,' and those same 'boys' have organized a reunion for their coach some twenty years after they played for him. Why? Because on those dark and stormy nights as he drove them to exhaustion on the practice field, every one of them thought about quitting, for they didn't think they could live up to his severe demands. But they didn't quit (including the ones who didn't even letter), and eventually, they found themselves, ordinary guys from various backwater cities in the northwest, with the best records of any of the teams that ever played college football. That's what instills character in a man; the point being that when you are ready to quit, for some reason there is one last thread that is holding your will together and you just won't let it break. And once you have fought off those of moments of doubt, you will fight to win, especially when you have a man like Gil Dobie driving you towards excellence." (e-mail to the author from Will Lomen.)

(Also, see the adventures of Wee Coyle).


Left to right: Maxwell Eakins, Gilmour Dobie, Wee Coyle

------

William (Wee) Coyle quarterbacked Washington in the 1908-1911 seasons, becoming the first quarterback -- and maybe the only quarterback in college football -- to go unbeaten in four seasons of leadership. Note that he also lettered in baseball and track, and is now honored in the University of Washington Hall of Fame in all three sports.

After Gill Dobie prematurely resigned his job at UW in 1915, Coyle, who coached Gonzaga at the time, applied for the head coaching job at his alma mater. Later, Dobie changed his mind and went on to coach the 1916 season at Washington. Incidentally, Dobie's 1915 team beat Coyle's Gonzaga-led team 21-7.

In September of 1917, Coyle, 29, graduated from officer’s training camp at the Presidio in San Francisco, California. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on July 9, 1918, for "extraordinary heroism" in action near Cheppy, France.

He served as Lieutenant Governor of Washington State from 1921-1925. As a Seattle resident, he served for 25 years as the manager of the Seattle Civic Auditorium.

Dobie's record at Washington is unsurpassed in college football. See "A statue for Gil Dobie."

 

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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