Saturday, March 20, 2010

High School Not So Confidential (Anymore)

Ed Harris: The pride of Tenafly

I've undertaken some ambitious projects on this blog over the years, most notably the 100 Games in 100 Days feature in the summer of 2008 and the 100 Players in 100 Days series in the summer of 2009.

But this new project dwarfs them all.

I have already begun an attempt to catalogue the name and location of just about every high school that has ever sent a football player to Columbia.

It's even harder than it sounds.

Admittedly, I will have some big gaps as I don't have the information available for every season since 1870. Nobody in the world has that information.

But where the info is available I will catalogue it.

And to keep the gaps from being too wide, every former player reading this should please feel free to send me your high school information if you don't see your name or school on the list when I eventually finish this ambitious task.

Now here's the question I'm sure many of you are asking:

"Why are you doing this?!?"

Simple, it's darn interesting and it can be very helpful to understand where our players have come from over the years.

And also, it's fun.

After just a few days of work so far, I feel like I'm getting a lesson in the history of American secondary educaton, American migration, and iconography.

Many of the schools I've catalogued from as recently as the 1980's have been closed, moved, or merged.

Many schools have been renamed to honor modern heroes.

Others have remained strong despite being located in rough urban areas everyone else gave up on long ago.

At my current pace, I hope to have my list completed for everyone to look at and check for accuracy within two months.

Meanwhile, I hope to provide some interesting updates along the way.

Today, I can report that the famous actor Ed Harris did indeed play football at Columbia in the early 1970's. Most of you know that, but you may not have known that Harris camee to the Lions, not from a rugged western state like Oklahoma or New Mexico, but from Tenafly High School in Tenafly, NJ where the football program still fields a decent team most years.

Harris' family eventually moved to New Mexico and he transferred to the University of Oklahoma to study acting and the rest is history.

So far, I have one other graduate of Tenafly HS in the database, and that's Tom Shadek, also from the class of 1973.

Congratulations Cornell!

As I complete this post, the Big Red has just completed a nice beat down over Fran Dunphy and the Temple Owls in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament.

It's a good day for Ivy League sports.


At Sat Mar 20, 03:07:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cornell's win is good for Cornell and good for league, but bad for us. A recruit might be more inclined to pick them over us after seeing how successful they are.

At Sat Mar 20, 07:29:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Ed Harris well. He was originally from Oklahoma - played his frosh year stuck in the depth chart as a 3rd string TB at Columbia behind Tom Hurley (Bergen County as well) and Steve Howland (Cleveland), then dropped out of school to pursue an acting career. He was a character, and once hung off the roof of Carman Hall on a dare (I kid you not). Ed remains good friends with fellow classmate and CU All-East and All-Ivy Guard Terry Smith, who works in the city, and they get together whenever Ed appears on Broadway.

At Sat Mar 20, 08:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although we seem to compete for the some football recruits each year, that doesn't seem to be the case in basketball. Who knows how/what recruits think, but I suspect that Cornell's success is good for the league and us too insofar as it adds basketball legitimacy to everyone in the league.

At Sun Mar 21, 04:57:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read a post on the Ivy Football Forum that the best women's high jumper in the United States, Tara Richmond, will be coming to Columbia next year. What I find particularly interesting, Jake, is that she attends the same high school that M.A. Olawale attended, Long Beach Polytechnic. We have some outstanding athletes coming in from California next year--Richmond, Carter football), Andrada (football), Brianna Orlich (women's basketball), et al.

At Sun Mar 21, 09:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1959, the Tenafly Tigers were coached by Jack Armstrong.

At Sun Mar 21, 11:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake: compiling a list of all Columbia football players and their secondary schools is an admirable task and eminently achievable. First of all you have the game programs. I have one historic Columbia program from the Columbia Cornell game of 1953 and it lists the secondary schools of the players from both teams. To get you started: Jack Armstrong, Xavier HS of New Jersey; Philip Benson (Phil Benson!), Eastside HS in New Jersey; Alan Black, Rahway HS; Philip Bonnano, Emerson HS (NJ); Edward Botwinick, New Rochelle HS....

You have probably thought of using Bill Steinman already; his annual listing of incoming student-athletes for Lines on Lions which he kept for several decades will give you a big head start. (I wouldn't be totally surprised if Bill hasn't already compiled the complete list for you).

Another major resource for you if you aren't already thinking of it will be the University Archives and Columbiana Collection at

Below is a quote from their website. While the yearbooks give hometowns, which could be helpful for further research, the senior books tend to list high school. I have a 1908 class book and it lists the secondary school of each senior. Plus who knows what other university records the archives may have that identify undergraduates by secondary school.

"Yearbooks, Face Books, Class Books

Yearbooks, Face Books, and Class Books are a good source of information about former students, student activities, and the composition of the student body over the years. The University Archives collections include an extensive run of yearbooks from Columbia College (The Columbian) dating from 1869 to the present, as well as a representation of yearbooks from other schools of the University and a complete run of those for the Midshipmen's School, which was on campus during World War II. Incomplete runs of yearbooks for the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Graduate School of Journalism, and the Graduate School of Business are also available.

In addition to yearbooks, Columbia University Archives also holds incomplete runs of Columbia College Freshman Face Books (1960s-1990s), Graduate School of Journalism Face Books (1943-1999), Columbia College Senior Class Books (1867-1920), and reunion publications for Columbia College classes from the late 19th century through the 1920s. The senior class books often contain more detailed information about graduates than what is noted in the corresponding yearbook. "

So I think between football programs, the senior class books than were printed up to about 1920, the freshman face books from the sixties onwards plus Bill Steinman, a lot of the information is just waiting for you.

Happy hunting.


At Sun Mar 21, 07:48:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I played football at another high school wich played Tenafly when Jack coached there. Some of my teammates and I decided to "scout" one of Jack's practices before we played Tenafly my senior year. Jack spotted us, and tore off after us (all 250 pounds of him) until we jumped in our cars and sped off. He called our coach and we caught hell. As far as Cornell backetball, Donohue will be gone after the tournament; he will be off to a big time program. As far as our recruiting basketball players, I'm afraid that the fault lies with Joe's very ordinary coaching.

At Mon Mar 22, 09:53:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Many of us did the PG thing for one year after HS

how will you factor Post Grad study into this list?

At Tue Mar 23, 02:41:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

For post grads, I hope to include th names of both high schools the athlete attended. Sometimes, that information is not available, but it is available for he last 30 years or so.


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