Today's Tidbit... The Color Of 1916 River Falls Normal Football
About two weeks ago, I wrote about identifying the school and football team with an interesting logo. After determining the school was Stevens Point Normal, now the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I thought I had finished with the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association (WIAC) for a while. However, that was not the case since I soon came upon the postcard below of the 1916 River Falls Normal football team.
Regular readers know I'm a fan of real photo postcards (RPPCs) since they capture football scenes from the first decades of the last century and all walks of life. While postcards printed in color were also available, most had scenes of empty stadiums. You won’t find many color postcards showing a small school's football team, so acquire it I did.
Before I stop geeking out about the postcard and turn to the team, focus your attention on the legend at the bottom. Time yourself to see how long it takes to figure out the correct identity of everyone pictured, using the legend as a guide.
- PAUSE -
Like Yogi, I'm smarter than the average bear, but I struggled until I figured out the left-to-right instructions omitted the part about the back row, third row, the second, and the first. It all made sense after that discovery.
A bit later, I searched for other images of the 1916 Rivers Falls Normal team and found the one below. It has many, but fewer of the same guys, shot before the same backdrop, with a legend mirroring the same rows and left-to-right structure as the guys in the image.
So, what did this team do to deserve a color postcard? First and foremost, they won their conference for the second year in a row, marking the first two of the school's eighteen titles, their last coming in 1998.
In an era of conference realignments, the WIAC has remained remarkably stable since forming in 1913. Founded by eight state-supported normal schools, it had ten members by 1917; eight of them remain today. One that dropped, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, grew too big, left in 1964, and now competes at the DI level, minus football. Another, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, remained too small, leaving in 2015 to align with schools with similar athletic ambitions.
So, in the third year of the Wisconsin normal school conference, River Falls won the league's 1915 football and 1915-1916 basketball titles. The 1916 football team captain, Otto Eggebrecht, sitting in front holding the ball, and his brother, Carl, were largely responsible for the 1915 titles, but the 1916 team had to face its challengers without Carl. Only Otto remained.
He proved enough.
According to the UW-River Falls football records website, the Falcons finished 6-1-1 on the season. A season-opening loss to a Chippewa Falls high school (home of Leinenkugel's) and a 0-0 non-conference tie with Macalaster did not inspire confidence. Still, they ran through conference play and a game with St. Mary's, scoring 177 points against 14.
River Falls Normal 0 Chippewa Falls HS 2
River Falls Normal 0 Macalester 0
River Falls Normal 20 Stout 7
River Falls Normal 7 Stevens Point 0
River Falls Normal 53 Superior 0
River Falls Normal 54 St. Mary's 0
River Falls Normal 21 La Crosse 0
River Falls Normal 22 Milwaukee 7
Football and much else were upset when America entered the Great War in 1917. Still, the boys of 1916 always had their colored postcards to remind themselves of their former glory after venturing to primary and secondary schools across the state.
And good for them, since you are reading about them and their postcard more than a century later.
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