“Navy football is designed to train Uncle Sam’s midshipmen to fight against overwhelming odds; to give its players the stamina through physical training to enable them to meet every challenge; and finally to build the heart and courage that never admits defeat until the final whistle.”
Thus spoke Navy’s assistant athletic director, E.E. (Rip) Miller to five hundred ardent football fans assembled at Coaldale High School gym last Saturday night to do honor to Midshipman George Welsh .
It was a splendid and heart -warming occasion. Coaldale, justly proud of its former High School quarterback, found the United States Naval Academy equally as proud of their skilled “T” formation wizard.
Miller read from two letters addressed to him during Welsh’s high school and prep career, showing the confidence his schools had in him. The first was from Supervising Principal of Coaldale Schools, Randolph B. Harvey, telling authorities at the Naval Academy of George Welsh’s desire to enter Navy and of the belief of his supervising principal that he could meet every requirement of the Academy and could develop into the star player so ably exemplified this last season.
Bob Kennedy, coach at Wyoming Seminary, wrote a similar letter after the 1951 football season telling Miller size meant little when 150 pounds of determination could be packed into a 5 foot 10 inch bundle of energy and know how.
“There you have it,” said Miller to the 500 guests. “Coaldale High was justly proud of him. Wyoming Seminary was equally proud of him. And here he sits a living example of why the United States Naval Academy and his country at large are equally proud of him.”
Then came the proudest moment of all. Supervising Principal Harvey presented the honored guest with a trophy as a permanent memento of the occasion and with a short wave radio that will be helpful in his Navy career and then Midshipman George Welsh was presented to family, friends and admirers. Lauded to the skies, he might have been expected to be upset. But, no, calmly, quietly and confidently he said in a clear tone of voice: “This is the greatest thrill of my life. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you.”
Coaldale and Lansford Lions Clubs were amply repaid for the work and preparation that went into the testimonial dinner. They presented gold footballs to the 50 or more seniors from 14 regional schools who participated in the 1954 All-Star football game. Johnny Johnson, of Schuylkill Haven, was named by=2 0participating players as star of the game and Midshipman Welsh presented him with the football used in the game, autographed by all the players.
It seemed but yesterday when Welsh himself an All-Star selected outstanding player in the North-South Schuylkill County Crippled Children Dream Game, was being so honored at the end of the 1950 season.
His career since that game is an example to today’s seniors and to boys still in high school. Practice made him adept at handling the ball, wanting to play gave him the incentive to give football everything he had and quite naturally his home town folks take pride in his accomplishments. Saturday night was a big night for George Welsh. It was a bigger night for Coaldale.
Burgess Evan Jones, of Coaldale, and Burgess Thomas Whildin, of Lansford, paid tribute to the Naval Academy star. Len Eshmont, of Kulpmont, former Fordham and Los Angeles ‘49ers backfield great, and presently backfield coach at Navy, said the honored guest was the most under rated football player in the country. While sports writers acclaim ed Ralph Guglielmi and Peter Vann as the two best quarterbacks, Welsh directed his team against both Notre Dame and Army in a way that left little to be desired, excepting possibly the All-American honors bestowed on his rivals at the end of the season. “Next year George Welsh can’t miss,” is the way Eshmont has it figured out.
The program was ably handled by Toastmaster Dick Hoben and was featured by a Navy yell a la Tony Wargo who practiced it at New Orleans, before, after, and during the Sugar Bowl game.
Invocation was by Rev. Francis H. Pascoe, of the First Congregational Church, and benediction by Rev. Frederick Frazer, supervising principal of Marian High School.
The Mahanoy City octette was in splendid voice and “Dopey” Duncan drove a team of mules right up the Blue Mountain road to the keen enjoyment of all present. Definitely it was a fine affair