A Sports Gallery Returns
A group of alumni volunteers recreate a long-lost tradition By Rachel M. Collins '81
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Creating a gallery of sports photographs for the Field House seemed like such a simple idea when Charlie Eager '53 and Jere Lundholm '53, longtime friends and fellow UNH lacrosse teammates, first bandied it about in the 1990s.
"I figured we'd open a few drawers, find the pictures and the names and put them on the wall," Eager says. "I had no doubt we would have all the information we needed and it would be done very quickly."
Little did they know that the task would turn out to be an 11-year odyssey, searching for more than 1,200 team photographs and then identifying 25,000 athletes.
"The UNH Sports Gallery became one of the largest single projects ever undertaken by a group of volunteers in UNH history," says Lundholm. "We had to go back and reconstruct over 100 years."
Photos of the UNH men's varsity teams that once were displayed in the old Field House were taken down in the 1960s. The goal was to bring them back and display photos for every team, both men's and women's, that played for UNH from 1894 to 1999. (From 2000 on, the athletics department agreed to take over posting photos.)
At first, the task seemed insurmountable. "We not only didn't know which teams had been photographed, we didn't know where the photos that were taken were located or who most of the athletes were," Lundholm says. Even Granite yearbooks were not always useful, since in many years team photos were not included, and in others, the photos had no captions.
"It turned into a big detective job," says Lundholm, and the project's committee members (Bill Borden '53, Jeannette Cagle, Dick Dart '49, Lundholm's wife, Harriet Forkey '54, John Lassen '55, Jean Mitchell, Joe Murdoch '55G, and Ann and Chan Sanborn '55) joined co-chairs Lundholm and Eager in becoming the detectives. Calling, writing and emailing alumni and former coaches, they were able to locate photos in locations ranging from attics to the walls of dens. At UNH, archivist Mylinda Woodward '97 was instrumental, Lundholm and Eager say. Once they had the photos, they contacted thousands of alumni to try to identify the athletes.
"There would be times when we'd send a photo out and three people would write back and say, 'That's me in row 3,' " Forkey says. "It was that crazy. Even when we had the photo, it was difficult sometimes for people to identify everyone."
Lundholm recalls watching his father, former athletic director Carl Lundholm '21, type the players' names for a photo to be hung on the walls of the old Field House lobby. The project has given him "a sense of pride for persevering," he says, and for resurrecting his father's tradition. The committee also raised $170,000 in donations to underwrite the costs.
"So many coaches have told us how wonderful it is to see people looking at the photos with their children and their grandchildren," Forkey says. "It not only is a historical timeline that captures a part of the university, it has a sociological aspect as well, as you look at the change in uniforms, the size of the teams, the transition of women's sports from club to intercollegiate."
"It's an important way to show UNH's long athletic tradition and the respect the university has for all of these alumni," says Eager. "It's a real treasure." ~blog comments powered by Disqus