By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – Whiteford’s first varsity football coach, James Gasiorowski, died this past week.
He was 90.
“Gaz,” as he was called, brought football to Whiteford in the fall of 1956 and was head coach of the varsity from 1957 to 1959. The first practices were held in a farm field. When practice was over, they stored their equipment in a chicken coop.
“It was the first time the boys had been exposed to football. They had never been in a three-point stance,” Gasiorowski told Monroe News sports writer Ron Montri in 2008. “I have a lot of fond memories of Whiteford. We started from scratch, but they caught on quickly. They were very talented.”
Tom Creque was Whiteford’s first quarterback and played for Gasiorowski.
“Gaz was a tough, hard-nosed, no-nonsense coach,” Creque said. “He was a great guy, but he had to be the one in charge. He had to show us everything when we started. He would say, ‘this is a lateral,’ and show us what it was.”
The 1958 Bobcats went 7-2, beating more established programs like Deerfield 21-0, Cement City 65-0 and Sand Creek 35-6.
After three years at Whiteford, Gasiorowski moved to Bedford where he was a coach and teacher for decades. In 2008, Gasiorowski returned to Whiteford for a reunion as Whiteford celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first graduating class with a Saturday afternoon full of events and football game.