The Search for My High School Letter

by Dave Cooley

I graduated from high school in Bedford, PA on May 23, 1951. I was living and working on a dairy farm and as a result I could not stay after school to attend school activities such as sports.

In the last three months of my senior year, the school decided to have a track and field team. They had every possible sport but never a track team. So it was decided to form one in March or April of 1951. Anyone could try out for the team, and the coach would let me practice during the last class of the day if I made the team.

The coach’s method of determining who would be on the team was to have everyone try out for every team event, such as 400 yards, high jump, 100-yard races, and the hurdles. I tried out for several, and when we got to the 200-yard hurdles, the coach said that the person who fell the least would be the runner for that event. And remember, this was the day of cinder tracks, so if you fell…uh-oh! I fell once but all the others trying out fell more times so I became a hurdler.

Since it was so late in the school year, there was only time and money for the team to have one team event against a school in another county.

The team traveled to Somerset County on a Saturday.

The scoring for the Athletes was dependent on a 1-5 scoring program. If you won an event, it was a five; if you finished otherwise, you were scored down to one. If you scored, you would receive a Letter at graduation.

When the call came for the hurdles, I was in the third heat with one opponent.

The gun was fired and the other guy and I took off over the first hurdle. Boom! He fell on the second hurdle. I continued to the finish line, won my heat, and earned one point for the team. Yea!

I graduated in May 1951, went back to work, and never received my letter. I then joined the US Navy during the Korean War in 1952. After four years I left the Navy and moved to Baltimore, MD in 1956.

Recently, we were cleaning house and I came across the information about Bedford High School, reunions, and a photo of me as part of the Track Team.

I was able to locate the Athletic Director for the school, called him, and told him my story, and that I wanted to find out why I didn’t receive my Letter. Brad Smith, the A.D., was kind and helpful and was able to secure a Blue and White Letter and an Athletic Participation Letter for me. It’s an honor to be part of the program.

Interesting aspect—I became a runner, running marathons and other distances, and ultimately owned a business that managed running events for 25 years.

Categories: Features


1 reply

  1. Great story Dave


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