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Withrow – The first fifty years: GAA-The Founder and The Advisers

 by Bob Linnenberg ‘63

Much has been written about the athletic prowess of the boys football, basketball and baseball teams at Withrow during the first fifty years. Little mention has been made of girls athletics. When the new East High opened in 1919, the athletic field may not have been finished and the middle gym open to the elements; but that did not curtail the physical education department from implementing a full program for both boys and girls. In the 1920s boys may have participated in interscholastic competition, but to a limited degree, so did the girls. Field hockey and swimming teams competed with other high schools and the freshman girl’s team from the University of Cincinnati. However, for reasons unknown, the girl’s swim team was abolished in 1926; and from that point on, girls participated only in intramural competition.

Since its founding, the Girls Athletic Association (GAA) was always one of the largest clubs at Withrow. It was created to encourage girls to exercise and to develop an interest in physical pursuits that, hopefully, would last a lifetime. Sportsmanship and camaraderie were expressed goals of the organization. At first, competition was by class, with the senior girls playing against the sophomore girls, etc. There was also the occasional PlayDay with games with girl groups from other schools. The girls and their advisers set up hockey, volleyball, basketball and softball teams for intramural play. Tennis, badminton, ping-pong, shuffleboard and horseshoes were popular sports along with archery, bowling, hiking and gymnastics.  In the 1940s there was even a horseback riding club within the GAA.  To raise money for all these activities, the girls sold the programs at varsity games along with many other items over the years.  GAA also sponsored a school dance.

Participants in GAA activities were awarded points in each sport. The more their team, or the individual won, the more the points. Tallied at the end of the year, the girls with the most points would be honored at a banquet for all GAA members. Beginning in 1928 the senior who was judged to be the best all-around member would be selected as the Honor Girl for that year.

Withrow’s GAA was founded in 1927 by physical education teacher Helen Holbrook Taylor. Miss Taylor, a graduate of the Sargent School of Physical Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts (since 1929 part of Boston University) was a native New Englander, born in New Hampshire and raised in Massachusetts. She came to Cincinnati to attend UC and was one of the original 1919 cohort of teachers at Withrow. Miss Taylor headed the Physical Education department until 1935 when she was succeeded by Miss Dorothy Sachs. Miss Taylor had switched from teaching physical education to academics, teaching English, health and physiology. She remained as an adviser to GAA until she retired in 1963. 

After her retirement, Miss Taylor returned to Massachusetts, where she had spent summers throughout her teaching career, to be close to her family.

A native Cincinnatian and graduate of Woodward High School and the University of Cincinnati, Miss Sachs came to Withrow in the fall of 1927. At the time she took over the gym department in 1935, Miss Sachs had a “deep, dark secret” that she did not reveal until 1939. The secret was that Miss Sachs and Arthur Lally had eloped to Brookville, Indiana—in 1934. She was finally to be known as Mrs. Lally. They had eloped so that a marriage license application would not be published in the local newspapers. The Board of Education was leery about renewing teaching contracts of married female teachers of childbearing years. Miss Sachs met Mr. Lally on the Avon Fields golf course. Another common bond was that Mr. Lally’s sister, Miss Ella Lally, taught social studies at Withrow Junior High. Known for yelling, “Hey, you!” at recalcitrant girls in gym class, Mrs. Lally remained head of the girls physical education department until her retirement, also in 1963.

Dorothy Sachs Lally remained in Cincinnati after her retirement. By then a widow, she died in November of 1995, at the age of 94. She is buried in the Beth Hamedrash Hogodal Cemetery in Covedale. Miss Taylor and Mrs. Lally were instrumental in moving GAA forward in the first 44 years, sponsoring and advising on many activities. One of the earliest of the activities consisted of Saturday morning hikes of five to fifteen miles. Popular from the early 1930s well into the 1950s, participants in these morning rambles also got GAA points for every mile they walked. While Mrs. Lally stayed in her gym, Miss Taylor found time to direct the pony chorus in the Minstrels and to be an adviser to Literatas, the literary club for freshman and sophomore girls. Miss Taylor also founded the Dance Club in 1920, which lasted all the way through the first 50 years.

With Miss Taylor moving from physical education to English in 1935, Withrow welcomed Miss Grace Blasberg. A Hughes High School graduate, Miss Blasberg went to Ohio State, but transferred to and graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1930. In her youth she had been very active in the Girl Scouts, attaining the rank of Golden Eaglet. She began her teaching career at Hartwell High School before moving to Withrow to teach physical education, health and first aid. She also advised the Bowling Club and managed the spring archery competitions. Not one for those morning hikes, her greatest joy was sleeping late on Saturday. In 1955 she stated that her secret ambition was “to live in Florida when I retire.” Miss Blasberg did exactly that, retiring in 1966. She died in Miami in July 1998 at age 91. 

During her career, Miss Blasberg was active in the Cincinnati Health and Physical Education Association. Writing on nutrition, she was published in The Journal of School Health. Her tenure at Withrow was not continuous as she took off two years, and returned to Withrow in September 1947.

Mabel Joyce Robinson was born in Hanna, Indiana, but considered Urbana, Ohio, as her hometown. A graduate of Wittenberg University, she came to Withrow in the fall of 1945 from Deer Park High School. Also qualified to teach English, Latin and biology, she stayed with physical education throughout her career, primarily in the Junior High. Also a GAA adviser, Miss Robinson was the faculty adviser to Dolphin Club and Junior Dolphin Club for many years. She taught swimming and lifesaving after school and in summer sessions at Withrow. She retired from teaching in 1971 and died in September 1996 at age 84. She is buried in Woodsfield, Ohio.

In her senior year at Miami University, Elizabeth Leslie served as a “cadet” gym teacher at Withrow during the 1953-54 school year. After graduation, she began her full-time job at Withrow in September 1954. She was also a swimming and lifesaving instructor and an advisor to Dolphin Club. In 1955 she claimed that her secret ambition was “to swim the English Channel not only over but back too.” Like Mrs. Lally, Miss Leslie loved to play golf and bowl in her spare time. Miss Leslie was also the faculty advisor to the cheerleaders and a GAA advisor.

After 30 years at Withrow, Miss Leslie retired in 1984. She died in August 1995 at age 63 and is buried in her native Zanesville, Ohio.

Withrow-the first 50 years: Coaches John Huheey, Norman Kusel and Virgil Scardina

by Bob Linnenberg ‘63

John Huheey

Although he is best remembered as the varsity basketball coach for 18 seasons at Withrow, with his hoopsters going to the final four in 1952, Coach John Huheey was equally noted for his varsity nine baseball team which won the state of Ohio Class A champi­onship in 1950.

Joining the Physical Ed­ucation staff at Withrow in the fall of 1948, the 32-year-old John Ernst Huheey was made head basketball and baseball coach and initially headed up reserve football. Having lettered in both football and basketball at Terrace Park High School, Huheey contin­ued his education at the Universi­ty of Cincinnati. At UC he lettered in baseball, playing shortstop for the Bearcats. Playing various po­sitions on the varsity basketball team earned him another letter, and shot putting, plus throwing a discus and javelin on the track team earned him another sports letter. During this time, he also played and coached in metropol­itan basketball teams for Terrace Park.

Upon graduation from UC Teachers College in 1942, he served in the Navy during World War II. Attaining the rank of Lieutenant, he was discharged in January 1946 and begin his pro­fessional coaching and teaching career. It was reported that he had been hired to teach science and coach at Williamsburg, Ohio, high school in the fall of 1946.

At Withrow, his basketball career got off to a slow start. The ’48-’49 season was a disappoint­ment with 5 wins and 14 losses, but by the ’51-’52 season Coach Huheey’s team, with 21 wins and 4 losses, won the league, the district, and the regional championships. At the Final Four tournament in Columbus, the state champion Middletown High School team ended the season for the Tigers in the semi-finals, 67 to 48. The captain of the team, Will Ernst, later returned to Withrow in 1961 to teach and assist his former coach. Dave Plunkett, who later played for UC, was the lead scorer for the sea­son with 476 points.

Another league champi­onship wasn’t attained until the ’61-’62 season, followed by three more for Coach Huheey in ’63-’64, ’64-’65 and ’66-’67. There was also a championship season in ’65-’66 under another former UC star, John Bryant, who took over while Huheey was ill and then succeeded him as coach in 1967. In total, Coach Huheey’s basket­ball teams racked up 239 wins and 139 losses, the best record in the first half of Withrow’s exis­tence. John Huheey passed away at age 50 in May 1967 after a long illness.

As baseball coach from 1949 to 1956 and again in 1960 -61, he had only one league cham­pionship. However, the 1950 team, with 12 returning letter­men and a 19-win, 4-loss record, took the top prize in the state of Ohio by winning the Class A title, defeating Galion High School 6–4. In all, Coach Huheey’s teams won 121 and lost 68 games.

A friend and a mentor to many a Withrow athlete, Mr. Huheey was noted for his pa­tient demeanor and kindness to all. A disciplinarian who stressed sportsmanship and fair play above all, John Huheey was posthumously inducted into the Cincinnati Public High School Hall of Fame in 2016.

The Sons of Angus King
Two “Kingsmen” became noted coaches, Norman Kusel and Virgil Scardina.

Norman Kusel, known as “Doc” during his entire career, graduated from Withrow in 1935. Number 52 on Coach King’s football squad, he played at right end. Upon graduation, he attended Miami University in Oxford, graduating in 1939. Doc soon began teaching and coaching at Plainville High School. Since it was a small school, he had to coach all the sports offered: football, basketball and track.

Plainville High became Mariemont High School in 1949, the year that Doc’s track team won a state championship. His most famous team was the 1952-53 basketball squad, which, with a 26-2 record, won the Class B state championship, defeating the team from Philo, Ohio, 87-44 at Cincinnati Gardens. Coach Kusel’s basketball career record with the Warriors was 287 wins and 125 losses.

Withrow played basketball against Plainville High in the early 1940s but did not resume play with the school as Mariemont until 1958. In 1962 the Tigers did not play the Warriors during the regular season, but defeated them in tournament play 61-43. The Warriors got revenge for this loss in the District tournament in 1967 when they defeated the second-seeded Tigers 70-61 and ended Withrow’s 10-game winning streak.

Mr. Kusel stopped active coaching in 1967 but remained as Athletic Director and teacher at Mariemont until his retirement in 1975. Among his many honors, Doc was the first member of the Mariemont Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Buddy LaRosa High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. When the Mariemont High School stadium was dedicated in 1975, it was named for him, just as the Withrow stadium is named for his mentor Angus King. Coach Kusel passed away in 1995. 

A running back and letterman under coach King, Virgil Scardina graduated with the class of 1945. He continued his education at the University of Cincinnati, graduating in 1949. After serving in the Army during the Korean Conflict, he began his coaching career in 1952 as an assistant coach at Elder High School in Cincinnati’s Price Hill. He soon became the head coach and remained at Elder until 1962. In his second year, he led the Panthers to a 10-0-0 season in 1954, outscoring opponents 319 points to 65. At Elder, his career total was 69 wins, 32 losses and 5 ties. His team won the Greater Catholic League title in 1954 and 1956, and a co-title in 1959.

During his time at Elder, Coach Scardina’s Panther squad defeated the Tiger eleven in 1956, ’58, ’59, ’60 and ’61. Withrow tied in 1955, and though the Tigers lost 26-6 in 1957, Withrow got the win as Elder had to forfeit due to an ineligible player on their squad.

Mr. Scardina retired from active football coaching to return to teaching in 1962. He specialized in special education and teaching disadvantaged students in the Cincinnati Public High School system. He still found time to coach track teams and wrestling teams at Courter Tech and Western Hills High Schools. His 1954 Elder team was inducted into the Buddy LaRosa High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2020.

Mr. Scardina, who passed away in 2008, was also a loyal Withrow alum. His generous donations to Withrow Alumni entitled him to a place on the Special Tiger Donor plaque on display in the main hall. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger!

Withrow-the first 50 years – Football-Angus King and The Early Coaches

by Bob Linnenberg ’63

Angus King
Anyone visiting Withrow these days will see ANGUS KING STADIUM in big white letters on the green artificial turf sideline of the playing field.  Most of these visitors would be unaware that honoree Angus King was the football coach from 1931 to 1945 and the foremost winning coach in the first 50 years of Withrow’s existence. With a record of 98 wins, 30 losses and 5 ties, the Withrow “King’s Men” had an undefeated season of 9 wins in 1934 and a winning season of 8 wins and one tie in 1941. The teams of 1932 and 1939 had 8 wins and suffered only one defeat each. In all, Withrow garnered 10 city football championships during Mr. King’s 14 years of coaching. In the 1934 season alone, Withrow’s opponents scored only a total of 18 points while coach Kings’s Tigers scored 206.

Angus King was a 1922 graduate of Ohio University in Athens, where he lettered in basketball and baseball. For a short time after college, he played pro baseball in the minor leagues before beginning his high school coaching career in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Upon arriving at Withrow in the fall of 1931, Coach King found that his first team had only two returning lettermen and over 70 inexperienced recruits. Nevertheless, he shaped up his squad and finished the season second in the league.

In addition to the coach’s prowess on the gridiron, Mr. King was also the baseball coach during his tenure at Withrow. His 1934 baseball team won the state championship, the first Cincinnati area team to claim that title. The record of 34 runs for Withrow versus 5 runs for their opponents in the finals evinces the strength of the team. In all, the Withrow baseball teams won one district championship, two state titles, and seven league championships under coach King.

In 1945 Mr. King left Withrow and coaching to become assistant director of physical education for Cincinnati Public Schools. He was promoted to supervisor of athletics in 1948, a position he held until his retirement in 1966 after 45 years advancing high school sports. As director, he developed programs in the public schools that promoted all sports for young men, not just football and basketball. Stressing physical fitness in all forms, Coach King was quoted as saying, “Not everyone is going to become a big star, but that’s not the point of high school athletics, anyway”.

One of his final acts as athletics chief was to see that lights were installed in the Withrow stadium. Up until that time, the only public high school football night games had to be held at Trechter Stadium (Named for Howard Trechter, a 1928 Withrow graduate) at Central Vocational High School (now Cincinnati State, ed.).

Mr. King served as president of the Southwestern Ohio High Athletic Board of Control for many years. He was named an All-Ohio Coach by Scripps-Howard newspapers in 1938 and posthumously inducted into the Buddy LaRosa Sports Hall of Fame in 1984. Mr. King was a scout for the Cincinnati Reds from 1947 to 1965. He died in July of 1969.

William Gilliand

Upon coach King’s departure in the fall of 1945, returning WWII veteran William Gilliland was selected to head up Withrow’s football program. Coach Gilliland had been a star athlete at Western Hills High School and played football under coach Dana King, Angus King’s brother, at the University of Cincinnati. President of the senior class of 1933, Mr. Gilliland was “Honorary Captain” of the UC football team and an all-Ohio fullback. After graduation, he coached at Crescent Springs High School for several seasons, assisted as a line coach at UC and was football coach at Wilmington College. Prior to serving in the war, he was football coach and athletic director at Walnut Hills High School.

Coach Gilliland ran the Withrow football program from 1946 through 1953 and sustained a record of 49 wins, 20 losses and 3 ties.  The 1952 season of 8 wins and one loss was his most successful one; his teams copped the Public High crown in 1951 and shared the top with Hughes in 1953.

In 1954 coach Gilliland stepped down from coaching but remained as head of football as the athletic director at Withrow.  He retired in 1972 after 27 years at Withrow. He passed away in January of 1973.

Nelson Walke

Prior to Angus King’s arrival at Withrow, the football coach was former United States Marine veteran Nelson Walke. Coach Walke, a Hughes High School graduate, was at East High/Withrow High from 1922 to 1931. His 1928 team, with 8 wins and one tie, scored 325 points to the opponents’ 51. When Mr. Walke took over from coach Arthur Reisner, he established the practice of early pre-season games with strong teams from central and southern Ohio. Coach Walke felt that this competition would give his boys experience and toughness for when they met city teams in league play. In his first year as coach East High won the city championship. Mr. Walke’s teams continued to have winning seasons, garnering the city championship again in 1929. A multi-talented individual, coach Walke assisted the new band director, George G. Smith, in organizing a student variety show which they called the Withrow Minstrels in 1930. Coach Walke’s name appears on the program above Smitties’.

Coach Walke left Withrow in 1931 to further his education. He coached and taught at the Pennsylvania State University and Columbia University and obtained his doctorate from Columbia in 1937. The author of a college textbook on health and physical education, Dr. Walke retired as Professor and Chair, Department of Health and Physical Education, at Brooklyn College, New York. He died in 1974, and he and his wife, who was also a Physical Education teacher at Withrow, are buried here in Cincinnati.

Early coaches of other sports: Reuter, Wirth, Nimmo, Sherman and Huheey, left to right below:











No article on Withrow’s early coaches would be complete without following Angus King’s dictum that ALL sports are important, not just football. Legendary coach Fred “Doc” Reuter, one of the original phys-ed faculty members, ran the track program from 1923 to1942 and served as cross-county coach until 1947. Ray Wirth, who taught at Withrow from 1931 to 1972, coached the swimming team from 1932 to 1954, cross country from 1948 to 1950 and volleyball 1935-1937. Popular Phys-Ed teacher Lomond Nimmo coached basketball 1939-1941, track 1943-1956, cross-county 1951-1956, and assisted coaches King and Gilliland with football 1939-1948. Another polymath, he also entertained generations of Withrowites with his bagpipe playing. Social studies teacher Harold Sherman coached the tennis team on and off from 1941 to 1960.  Many fine coaches served at Withrow in the first fifty years. One man in particular, basketball and baseball coach John Huheey, will be the subject of a future article.

Class of 1972 50th Reunion-Thur, Fri & Sat-Sept 15, 16 & 17, 2022

Class of 1972 WHS 50 Year Reunion Itinerary

For Registration Form, click HERE.

September 15, 2022   6PM – 9:30 PM   Admission Free
Meet and Greet Social (food/drinks available for purchase)

Firehouse Grill & Brewery
4785 Lake Forest Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242

September 16, 2922   6:30pm – 10:30pm   $40pp
50 Years Reunion Banquet Dance
Mill Race Banquet Center
1515 W Sharon Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45240

September 17, 2022   10am – 12 noon  No cost
Withrow High School Class picture @ 10am Meet atTower
Campus Tour @ 11am
2488 Madison Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

   Immediately following….
     September 17, 2022   1:00pm – 6:00pm  $ TBA

Farewell Picnic with Alumni DJ Hankerson
Kemper Meadows Park Shelter
1280 W Kemper Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45240

For Registration Form, click HERE.

For out of town attendees some of Reunion Committee members will be staying at the
Hampton Inn Cincinnati Northwest Hotel in Fairfield, OH (
430 Kolb Drive
Fairfield, OH 45014

Class of 1981 40th Reunion-Fri & Sat-August 5 & 6, 2022

OK class, it’s time for our Withrow Class of ’81 “40th + 1” Reunion, since last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.

Friday, August 5, 2022 starting at 6 pm.

  • – Mix and Mingle at an informal reception at The Summit Hotel, 5345 Medpace Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227.
    •      Food will be provided and cash bar will be available.
  • – Please indicate your interest in bowling at the Madison Bowl after Friday’s Mix & Mingle using this Registration Form linkBowling costs to be paid by attendees.
  • – Let’s continue to Mix & Mingle after leaving The Summit Hotel at the Esoteric Brewing Co., 918 East McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45206.
    •      Optional event – All costs to be paid by attendees.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

  • – 11am – Withrow High School Tour. Please arrive at 10:45 am and enter parking lot behind Withrow using Dana Ave entrance.
  • – Please indicate your interest in a Class of ’81 Top Golf Outing using this Registration Form link. Details to follow based on interest. Top Golf costs to be paid by attendees.
  • – 6 pm –  Reception and Dinner Dance at The Summit Hotel, 5345 Medpace Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227.

Fill out a Registration Form for the Class of 1981 40th + 1 Reunion by clicking HERE.

Check out our FaceBook page:
Or, please contact:
Vicky Luke at or
Nece Jones at

Withrow High School “Class of 1981” is also taking action to “Give Back”; some of our classmates from ’81 are always on the move! We are focused on a good cause and working to give back to the Withrow High School Band (WHSB).

As members of the class, we have decided to support the WHSB; we will volunteer with FCC Cincinnati and participate in their fundraiser, which allows us to give a portion of money earned to our band. Additionally, we will also use some of our fundraising efforts to help with the planning for our 40th year class reunion to be celebrated in August 5 and 6, 2022 (Withrow Class of ’81 “40 + 1” Reunion) since this year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic. We will also work on more fundraising events in the future.

If you would like to contribute to our fundraising efforts for WHSB or for your upcoming Class of ’81 Reunion, you may do so by contributing through


Cash App  $withrow81reunion.

Please indicate if your donation is going toward WHSB or class of ’81 reunion efforts.