The WWI Boston Navy Yard Team: Meaning and Context

The WWI Boston Navy Yard hockey team embodied a confluence of social mobility, immigration, war dodgers, and other issues. My challenge has been choosing the right narratives to talk about this incredible team and the brief league it spurred.

Patriotic duty and war fever hid the many motivations behind the players and team leadership. Peeling away the patriotic duty and war fever gripping Boston, a couple of Boston brahmins provided loyal participants a path into Boston’s upper society. By and large, this was a rare opportunity. However, George V. Brown and Ralph Winsor offered chances for change to those who demonstrated desire to take it. The Boston Navy Yard’s hockey team offered them a chance to elevate those who played. Many players took the opportunity.

The Navy rejected Thomas Henry Howard from his opportunity. Howard was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and son of Thomas “Atty” Atcheson Howard, a Stanley Cup winner. The Howard’s lived in New York City. Canada’s Military Service Act of 1917 (MSA), in part a draft measure, forced Canadians living in America to weigh options between returning to Canada, joining an American military service, or hoping to evade. At first, evasion might have been possible until the United States and Canada agreed to forcing British empire recruits to Canadian recruitment stations and allowing Canadian military police to enforce the MSA in the United States. As a result, Howard joined the Navy to escape from either Canadian or American Army service. Due to his 8th grade education, the Navy rejected his application to flight school. In the end, he traveled to Scotland on the USS Canandaigua. Together, they laid mines in the North Sea as part of the Northern Barrage.

Raymie Skilton complicates the social dynamic of the entire team. Skilton used his athletic abilities to escape the war altogether. First, his contract with Massachusetts Militia expired just before the Army went on a punitive expedition against Pancho Villa. While not clear if Battery A, 1st Light Field Artillery left for Mexico and the American southwest, Skilton was not enlisted. Before being drafted, he enlisted in the Navy Reserve to play football and hockey. After the hockey season ended, he found excuses to refuse orders to active duty. Eventually, he was booted from the Navy.

After reviewing military records and reading about Progressive-era social constructs, I still tell myself that some of this does not make sense. Individually, the explanations are self-evident. Brown, a prominent sports promoter, gathers the best team to instill patriotism in the hearts of Americans while balancing the norms of brahmin expectations. Winsor diligently does his duty to America on ice and the sea. While building the Boston Office of Naval Intelligence, he coaches a highly skilled team because it is the right thing to do. The son of Canadian hockey star prided family fealty over all else. The selfish goat who prioritized preservation of self. But there’s more. The war fever environment of Boston and the Navy’s physical education program exerted influence or created enabling conditions for this team to make sports headlines.

A narrative without a good villain is boring. Were Cornelius Fellowes and Roy Schooley villains? All three had less than noble personal motivations. Furthermore, they exercised altruistic tendencies at different times. In the early years, Fellowes slid money to star players or assisted them with finding jobs. Schooley largely assisted players during the 1920s, when he was at peak influence. Brown provided immediate benefit to players through special assignments or connections. In my opinion, Brown’s support felt different even though sharing in the same self-promotion desires. Records seem to confirm Brown’s support was actualized idealism. Was George V. Brown the perfect upper class American? For at least two years (1917-18), he was.


Cover Art provided by Library of Congress. Digital ID: cph 3g01660 //

Imposing Morality through Sports: The Navy’s Physical Education Program, 1917-1918

Forward: The concepts from this paper support a fundamental question about the 1917/18 First Naval District’s Ice hockey team. Since starting on the National Amateur Hockey League (1917/18) project, I struggled describing the motivations of George V. Brown, Ralph Winsor, and the Boston team. Brown and Winsor have different goals than Cornelius Fellowes or Roy Schooley. But I couldn’t really explain it. The research conducted for the paper below answered some of those questions.

Whether exploring the Commission on Training Camp Activities from a sports or morality perspective, the organization imposed upper class values upon the drafted masses with the expectation of complete societal change. In 1917, Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, established a Commission on Training Camp Activities (CTCA) to provide for the moral and physical preparation of draftees[1]. The CTCA redefined military culture change in terms of Gilded Age pietist values built around physical activities, sex education, singing, and other cultivated entertainment opportunities. The CTCA’s athletics commissioner, Walter Camp, created a training regimen with a different moral outlook than the singular focus against sex and vice. Camp’s moral code promoted a complete man grounded in muscular Christianity. Subordinate to Camp, George Vincent Brown, from Boston and the First Naval District, shared Camp’s ethos. Amid the CTCA’s moral crusade, Brown focused on social advancement through amateur sports. As First Naval District’s athletic director, Brown acted consistently with Boston Brahmin values in addition to the shared concepts of muscular Christianity. Whereas Camp extolled these virtues, Brown acted on it. On behalf of the Charlestown Navy Yard’s hockey team, Brown interceded with the Navy and Boston University. Those who took advantage placed in developmental technologies, low key positions, or transferred into an advanced law degree. Brown changed individuals. Camp attempted individual change through mass instruction. The CTCA desired societal change through imposed values on individuals. While many CTAC initiatives remained, no moral lessons survived the 1920s.

Secretary of War Newton Baker, followed by Secretary Daniels, established the CTCA to address moral concerns developing in the U.S. armed forces. In July 1916, Secretary Baker sent Raymond Fosdick to investigate Army camps in the American Southwest. Fosdick identified “an ingrowing staleness all along the border[2].” He commented that soldiers frequented saloons and the brothels when not on duty. He noted that the soldiers needed reading materials, physical activities, and movie-houses. Upon returning to Washington D.C., Fosdick proposed to Baker the CTCA to eliminate liquor and vice while preparing the men for the physical demands of the frontline[3]. Fosdick specified the commission’s tasks as “[keeping] the camps and the surrounding neighborhoods clean and free from vicious influences” and “supply… social and recreational facilities to replace… the normal conditions of life[4].” In April 1917, Baker approved the commission with Fosdick as the chairman. Shortly afterwards, Daniels authorized a similar training camp commission for the Navy that would also be chaired by Fosdick[5].

The military’s authoritarian nature allowed Fosdick’s commissions to easily implement the moral reforms demanded by Gilded Age pietists. Gilded Age pietists tended to be Protestant nativists. They championed for prohibition, “Sunday blue laws”, and compulsory schooling. Combing secular and religion, they believed “the State was to take it upon itself to aid the weaker brethren by various crusading actions of compulsory morality, and thus to purge the world of sin[6].” With direct access to the Secretaries of War and the Navy, the CTCA implemented Service wide reform with a signature. Many reforms impacted the non-military communities surrounding the bases bypassing democratic processes to pass ordinances, statues, or laws. For example, Fosdick noted the elimination of 110 red-light districts across the nation with only thirty-five in a prohibited zone according to section 13 of the Selective Draft Act of May 18, 1917. He lauded the elimination of all red-light districts within five miles of any military facility[7]. Even operating within an authoritarian regime, the CTCA required structure to provide the necessary oversight of its activities.

The CTCA created six divisions to plan, monitor, and enforce proper behavior through controlled activities in the elimination of vice. For Fosdick, the Social Hygiene and Law Enforcement divisions with their focus on venereal disease and liquor formed the core of the CTCA’s mission[8]. To eliminate prostitution and alcohol, Fosdick minimized unstructured free time. To structure off duty time, the CTCA created divisions for Athletics, Camp Music, Education, and Entertainment. The Athletics division created training regimens around “war-like sports”, which included boxing, swimming along with baseball, basketball, hockey, and others[9]. Camp Music and Entertainment provided for spiritual and mental health. Education taught basic citizenship skills like reading and writing or offered French language instruction. Although not a formal division, the CTCA partnered with several external organizations like the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Knights of Columbus, the Jewish Welfare Board, The Young Women’s Christian Association, and the War Camp Community Service to preserve the “normal social relationship between the people and the men in training[10].” With the commission established, Fosdick identified Walter Camp to lead the Navy’s athletics division.

As the Navy athletics commissioner, Camp assumed responsibility for the physical activities of a moral program to eliminate vice and keep the Navy fit to fight. Before 1918, Camp became the authority on American football and organized sports in general. Building upon that football experience, he developed the “daily dozen” to standardize physical exercise across the Service[11]. The daily dozen consisted of twelve exercises targeting “every muscle of the body[12].” While the exercise movements originated from his football experiences, the Gospel of Fresh Air became the reason for existence.

Unlike his cohorts, Camp believed in the Gospel of Fresh Air more than the direct moralistic outcomes of the CTCA. In essence, the Gospel of Fresh Air claimed urbanization prevents proper attainment of physical development. To combat this situation, the Gospel argued outdoor sports must replace the struggles of early settlers[13]. For additional moral guidance, he authored an American Citizen’s Creed, which embodied the muscular Christianity approach to morality[14]. The creed stated:

I believe that a nation should be made up of people who individually possess clean, strong bodies and pure minds; who have respect for their own rights and the rights of others and possess the courage and strength to redress wrongs; and, finally, in whom self-consciousness is sufficiently powerful to preserve these qualities. I believe in education, patriotism, justice, and loyalty. I believe in civil and religious liberty and in freedom of thought and speech. I believe in chivalry that protects the weak and preserves veneration and love for parents, and in the physical strength that makes that chivalry effective. I believe in that clear thinking and straight speaking which conquers envy, slander, and fear. I believe in the trilogy of faith, hope, and charity, and in the dignity of labor; finally, I believe that through these and education true democracy may come to the world[15].  

The creed spoke in broad language of generally noble virtues contrasting with the singular purpose against vice and prostitution. The creed meant to impart the ideal, well-rounded man to the reader[16]. Unfortunately, the creed captured “a definition of masculinity drawn from a class-specific vision of Christianity[17].” In validation, Camp celebrated desk workers as unhappy middle-aged wrecks who were invigorated after playing golf[18]. Developed while the commissioner for Navy athletics, the creed and daily dozen exercises meant to transform stagnant city dwellers into active people.

The CTCA athletics program never intended to cultivate serious amateur competitors. The athletics program prepared men for combat and replaced the free time activities of prostitution and vice. As a preparatory for war, the athletics program supported low scale competition. For the Navy, activities focused on swimming, boxing, and even considered sailing. Fosdick reported less than half the men in the Navy could swim. By June 1918, swimming became a compulsory sport[19]. Beyond the Northeast, inter-base competition rarely occurred. In contrast, northeastern servicemembers, usually officers, regularly participated in regional and inter-base competitions in the two decades leading up to World War I. Servicemembers who participated in organized amateur events usually belonged to state militias. Although the CTCA brought training standardization, George Vincent Brown and the draft forced the athletics program to organize serious amateur competitions.

Through organized amateur sports, Brown built a dais to showcase America’s military athleticism while providing an incentive for servicemen to enjoy competitive, amateur sports. On the eve of becoming the First Naval District athletic director, Brown organized track and field events solely for military athletes. Although created to foster healthy, inter-unit rivalry, the organizers encouraged public attendance to understand military drill and support the troops[20]. After assuming the role of the First Naval District athletic director, Brown continued to organize and promote serious competitions. Brown shared core values with Camp, especially on the redemptive power of sports.

            Brown’s personal beliefs and unique background in sports management prepared him for leadership in the military’s new athletics program. Brown solidified his concepts of amateurism and sports management under the employment of Harvard’s athletic director, Professor Ira Nelson Hollis. Hollis strictly adhered to the tenet of amateurs never playing for money[21]. Additionally, amateurism intertwined with muscular Christianity to form the upper-class notions of a well-rounded gentlemen. Amateurism dictated who could play as much as how they played. With the commercialization of sport, the upper classes needed to differentiate themselves from the “masses[22].” Boston believed in the gospel of progress, which acted independent of amateurism. Boston elites viewed themselves as “agents of improvement” stemming from personal achievement. Boston elites behaved as patrons of culture and exemplars of republican simplicity[23]. Boston elitist values instructed the wealthy how to act. For Brown, amateur sport provided the vehicle to act. The combination of Boston elitist values and amateurism provided Brown a framework to absorb new experiences.  

Brown absorbed the important lessons in sports management in context of reality informed muscular Christanity. In 1904, Brown practiced amateur sports management as the Boston Athletic Association’s (B.A.A.) athletic director[24]. By 1906, Boston area sportswriters acknowledged his abilities in managing events[25]. When the Matthews Arena and associated indoor ice rink completed construction in 1910, Brown established B.A.A.’s amateur ice hockey team. A few years later, Brown worked to create an inter-city amateur hockey league with teams from New York City. Brown applied experience gained from organizing amateur sporting events towards developing serious competitions for drafted athletes.

In the decade prior to 1917, Brown gained important contacts through assuming sports leadership positions in multiple organizations. The New England Amateur Athletic Union elected him to a key position[26]. Through this position, he occasionally represented the Amateur Athletic Union. Additionally, he participated in the American Olympic Committee[27]. On the eve of war, Boston University hired Brown as their first athletic director. He maintained positions with Boston University and the B.A.A. while acting as the First Naval District athletic director. With this placement, Brown developed and implemented the district’s athletic program without interference.

Although Brown headed the First Naval District’s athletic program, LT Jesse K. Park, Jr. served as the Charlestown Navy Yard’s athletic director. In 1917, the Navy divided its shore commands into districts for defensive and management purposes. The First Naval District covered Boston and all New England except for Rhode Island. The Charlestown Navy Yard, located on Boston waterfront, was a subordinate command to the First Naval District[28]. Charlestown provided ship construction and repair facilities. Additionally, it housed the First Naval District’s Reserve pool. Rear Admiral Spencer Wood commanded the First Naval District with Brown as his civilian aid for athletics. Captain William Rees Rush commanded the Charlestown Navy Yard and subordinate to Wood. Charlestown retained day-to-day Reserve and recruit management since the First Naval District constituted a headquarters element. As a result, Charlestown selected LT Park as its first athletic director. LT Park managed fourteen Reserve ice hockey players in league battles from January 1918 until March 1918.

The fourteen ice hockey players feared little of receiving active-duty orders due to the excessive manpower reserve created by the draft. In anticipation of conflict, the Navy created the Reserve program in 1915. Originally only for enlisted veterans, the Navy broadened the program in 1916 to include non-prior service. However, the program remained only open for enlisted ranks. The Navy revamped the immature program as a coping mechanism for the rapid manpower increase. The Reserves acted as a pool of available manpower ready to be activated for duty. During America’s first year in the war, the Navy waited for craft to be built. While waiting, the draftees trained and participated in sport until Spring 1918. With the excessive manpower available to First Naval District operations, Brown and the Reservist athletes played the entire 1917/18 season with only one player called to active duty.

Even though LT Park publicly led the Charlestown Navy Yard ice hockey team, Brown drove the creation of a league to support his team. Brown took personal interest in hockey before the creation of Boston’s first indoor rink at the Matthew Arena. Brown picked only Americans to play on his hockey teams with two exceptions. Prior to 1917, Brown accepted Mickey Roach to play on B.A.A.’s hockey team. Roach learned hockey in the Boston high school system though being born and remaining true to Nova Scotia roots. Thomas Henry Howard became the second Canadian to play on a Brown team. In mid-January 1918, the Charlestown Navy Yard team lost a player. Brown borrowed Howard from the Second Naval District. Howard, the son of a Stanley Cup winner, learned to play in Brooklyn under his father. With a solid team that included three National Hockey Players, Brown coordinated with team owners in Pittsburgh, New York City, and Boston to form a league showing the best of American based amateur hockey. While Brown’s team achieved second, Brown met his goals.

While amateurism stated sport was its own reward, Brown’s Boston elitist values forced a sense of social responsibility to reward personal achievement. Whereas Walter Camp extolled the virtues of achievement through sport, Brown acted as an agent of improvement for athletes who played by the amateur rules. Brown’s actions separate him from Camp. Throughout 1918, Brown held leadership positions in the B.A.A., Boston University, and at the First Naval District headquarters. These positions provided Brown direct access to senior leadership like Rear Admiral Spencer Wood and Boston University President Lemuel Mulin. To reward the ice hockey players, Brown accommodated requests by leveraging his access. Successful requests remained within the bounds of service and Brown’s belief in Bostonian and amateur values. Brown acted on many requests received from the hockey team.

As First Naval District athletic director, Brown changed many lives and institutions. Brown helped John Jay O’hare to getting accepted and transferred into Boston University’s law program[29]. O’hare and Brown created the university’s permanent hockey program. At least five players received flight screening by LT Park. Park transitioned to flight candidate screening near the completion of hockey season in March 1918. Brown offered chances, but not guarantees. Park addressed a personal letter requesting a waiver for Thomas Howard. The Naval Reserve Flying Corps rejected the waiver request. Howard remained with the Fleet Mine Force[30]. Furthermore, the 1917/18 ice hockey team established the first hockey league that remained unchallenged until the National Hockey League’s appearance in 1925/26. Brown enriched lives by demonstrating and acting on Boston Brahmin values.

The CTCA undermined its own legacy. The CTCA established the foundation for every post exchange, base theater, and morale, welfare and recreation program. Current day military experienced cheap movies thanks to the CTCA. Finally, Service controlled standards for physical fitness started because the CTCA needed to replaced sex and alcohol. Yet, racist and classist policies raised questions, even in 1918. Furthermore, the CTCA represented the peak of Gilded Age piety. While the Eighteenth Amendment (prohibition) passed in 1919, the Gilded age piety exerted peak power during America’s involvement in World War I. No one acts outside the context of his or her era, and this is especially true for those who tried to impose morality via authoritarian methods.


Primary Sources

 Camp, Walter. Keeping Fit All the Way, (Project Gutenberg, 2004),

Compiled service record, John Jay O’Hare, LDS/Yeoman, First Naval District, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

Compiled service record, Thomas Howard, Seaman, USS Canandaigua, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

Fosdick, Raymond B. Chronicle of a Generation; an Autobiography. New York: Harper, 1958.

“Keeping Our Fighters Fit for War and after” [on Recreational Programs and Activities at Army Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution]. Congressional Document, 1918.

Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918.

Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917.

Secondary Sources

“Approval of Records Made” Boston Globe, September 22, 1914.

Buchanan, John G. “War Legislation against Alcoholic Liquor and Prostitution”, Journal of Criminal Law and & Criminology 9, no. 4 (1919): 520-29.

“Every Event Hard Fought” Boston Globe, February 11, 1906.

“George V. Brown Taken by Death” Boston Globe, October 18, 1937.

Goewey, Ed. “Walter Camp, Football Authority, Heads Novel Movement and Will Employ Gridiron Methods in Training ‘Eyes and Brains” of Service.” The Tampa Tribune, 24 February 1918.

Goodman, Paul, “Ethics and Enterprise: The Values of a Boston Elite, 1800-1860”, American Quarterly 18, no. 3 (Autumn, 1966): 437-451.

Loane, Mark. “Ken Donald and Muscular Christianity.” Australian health review 32, no. 2 (2008): 305–7.

“Must Receive Money” Boston Globe, March 3, 1902.

“New Features for July 4 Sports on the Common” Boston Globe, June 15, 1917.

Rothbard, Murray. The Progressive Era, ed. Patrick Newman (the Mises Institute, 2017), 

“Stars Enter for Tryouts” Boston Globe, June 1, 1912.

Wakefield, Wanda Ellen. Playing to Win : Sports and the American Military, 1898-1945  Albany, NY: State University of the New York Press, 1997.

[1] Fosdick chaired both the Army and Navy CTACs. While few differences existed, the focus is on the Navy’s Commission except where noted.

[2] “Keeping Our Fighters Fit for War and after” [on Recreational Programs and Activities at Army Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution]. Congressional Document, 1918, 5.

[3] Ibid, 4.

[4] Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917, 3.

[5] Fosdick, Raymond B. Chronicle of a Generation; an Autobiography. New York: Harper, 1958, 143-144.

[6] Murray Rothbard, The Progressive Era, ed. Patrick Newman (the Mises Institute, 2017), Rothbard defined the Progressive era from 1870 through 1940. Since Rothbard tied pietists to the 1890s, the Gilded Age (1877 ~ 1900) was used for clarity and accuracy.

[7] Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917, 11. Section 13 set the prohibited zone for brothels around military bases to five miles. See John G. Buchanan “War Legislation against Alcoholic Liquor and Prostitution”, Journal of Criminal Law and & Criminology 9, no. 4 (1919): 524.

[8] Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917, 5.

[9] Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918, 11.

[10] Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918, 31.

[11] Ed Goewey, “Walter Camp, Football Authority, Heads Novel Movement and Will Employ Gridiron Methods in Training ‘Eyes and Brains” of Service.” The Tampa Tribune, 24 February 1918,

[12] Walter Camp, Keeping Fit All the Way, (Project Gutenberg, 2004), See section “A Shorthand Method”

[13] Ibid. See section “The Gospel of Fresh Air”

[14] An accurate definition of Muscular Christianity is “a system which relied upon sport to allow people to grow in a moral and spiritual way.”  See Mark Loane “Ken Donald and Muscular Christianity.” Australian health review 32, no. 2 (2008): 305.

[15] Ibid.

[16] In this case, “man” means “males” and not humanity. See Wakefield Playing to Win, 11- 14.

[17] Wanda Ellen Wakefield, Playing to Win: Sports and the American Military, 1898 – 1945, (SUNY Press, 1997), 12.

[18] Camp. See section “The Gospel of Fresh Air.”

[19] Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918, 11.

[20] “New Features for July 4 Sports on the Common” Boston Globe, June 15, 1917.

[21] “Must Receive Money” Boston Globe, March 3, 1902.

[22] Matthew Llewellyn and Gleaves, John, The Rise and Fall of Olympic Amateurism, (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2016), 12-13.

[23] Paul Goodman “Ethics and Enterprise: The Values of a Boston Elite, 1800-1860”American Quarterly 18, no 3 (Autumn, 1966): 437.

[24] “George V. Brown Taken by Death” Boston Globe, October 18, 1937.

[25] “Every Event Hard Fought” Boston Globe, February 11, 1906.

[26] “Approval of Records Made” Boston Globe, September 22, 1914.

[27] “Stars Enter for Tryouts” Boston Globe, June 1, 1912.

[28] Charlestown Navy Yard also known by Boston Navy Yard and Boston Naval Shipyard. It reverted to Charlestown Navy Yard after becoming a historic site managed by the National Parks Service.

[29] Compiled service record, John Jay O’Hare, LDS/Yeoman, First Naval District, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

[30] Compiled service record, Thomas Howard, Seaman, USS Canandaigua, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

The NAHL: Michael “Mickey” Richard Roach

   Michael “Mickey” Richard Roach cultivated his natural hockey talent resulting in the most successful professional hockey career out of all the USNAHL players. Roach played for 21 seasons. Following that, he coached nearly 6 seasons of professional hockey and another 11 seasons of coaching Senior Amateur hockey. Roach’s coaching career focused on cultivating the talent in others rather than himself.

   Born on 1 May 1895, Mickey Roach, a second-generation Nova Scotian, left the Maritimes for Boston in time to start high school. He attended Boston English High School with tailored curriculum towards the trades. Even as early as the 1912/13 season, he played on two teams, English H.S. and the Boston Arena intramural Skate Boys. Listed as Roche, the Boston Globe named him to their All Interscholastic second team for hockey. For the 1913/14 season, Roach moved on from the Skate Boys to the Pilgrim Athletic Association team while still playing for English H.S. Once again, the Boson Globe named Roach, as “Roache”, to its Interscholastic team. But, placed him in the first team along with Frank Downing, Robert Paisley, and Percy Wanamaker. Roach’s skill and determination to develop that skill were evident.

   After graduating, Roach played on the Boston Arenas for two seasons, but was driven for more. Much like the English and Huntington school teams, the Boston Arenas were limited to local play. The Boston Athletic Association team played in the developing intercity amateur hockey league. Despite his preeminence in Boston hockey circles, he moved to New York City in time for the 1916/17 season.

   For the next two years, Roach played in the greater New York City league. First, he played with the Crescent during the 1916/17 season. In a four-team intercity league, the Crescents lost in the final match to the Boston Arenas. In 1917, World War I finally caught up to the United States. Amateur hockey greatly changed resulting in the creation of the U.S. National Amateur Hockey League (USNAHL). Roach, a clerk for the BonBright investment bank, played on Cornelius Fellowes’ New York Wanderers. In November 1918, the war also finally caught with Roach. He became a Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) cadet and traveled back to Toronto to start training.

   Always looking for hockey, Roach picked up the uniform and picked up the stick. On 14 December 1918, the R.A.F. played one exhibition game against the Dentals in Ontario Hockey Association’s (O.H.A.) Senior A division. The R.A.F. bowed out of the season. Roach and Thomas “Flash” McCarthy, who joined him from New York, joined the Hamilton Tigers for the remainder of the season. This move started Roach’s NHL playing career.

   Starting with the St. Pats in 1920, he played seven seasons in the newly formed NHL. He moved from the Toronto St. Pats to the Hamilton Tigers, who elevated from the amateur ranks. For the 1924/25, Roach moved with the Tigers. Bill Dwyer renamed the Tigers to the New York Americans, referred as the Amerks, and moved them to New York City. As a result, the Amerks and Roach were the first hockey team to play in Tex Rickard’s Madison Square Garden in December 1925. While Roach finished his NHL career in New York City, he continued to play on for three more seasons in the minor leagues.

    While playing with the St. Pats, Roach married Elsie Alida Tobey, an Ontario native, in March 1920. Even though Roach played in Ontario, he established his family back in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In April 1921, his first son, Clifford Roach, was born there. However, not all of his four children could claim a Nova Scotia start. On 8 November 1922, their second son, Warren, originated in Boston. Finally, Ontario was home to his two daughters, Elsie and Eleanor. Despite the numerous locales for key life events, they called Nova Scotia home.

   Roach’s last season as player was the 1929/30 season with the Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons participated in the International Hockey League after the dissolution of the Canadian Professional Hockey League. In 1930, Roach accepted a manager/coach position with the Buffalo Bisons. In this new role, he started developing players for the NHL. From 1930 until 1936, Roach coached the Bisons, Syracuse Stars and, very briefly, the Rochester Cardinals. Roach left as a consistent contender, but never a winner, among team financial troubles and politics.

   Retiring from professional coaching, he refused to let hockey go. Initially, he attempted to organize a Senior A team for O.H.A. Eventually, he received an appointment to coach the Niagara Falls Brights in Dec 1938. In Feb 1939, he resigned this position and moved back to Nova Scotia.

   The Cape Breton league challenged for the Allan Cup, which was familiar ground for Roach. For the 1939/40 season, he sought to win with the North Sydney Victorias. At the time, Maritime Senior A hockey teams desired to claim the Allan Cup from the Halifax Wolverines. In 1941/42, he coached the Sydney Millionaires on a strong Cup challenge but fell short.

   As war crept back in Roach’s life, he switched to coaching the Navy teams in the Cape Breton League. At the time, Cliff was playing his top game. Meanwhile, Warren joined the US Navy. By September 1953, Mickey Roach retired from hockey and settled into his Customs job. Although a few of his teams made strong challenges, he never coached an Allan Cup winning team.

   With the exception of the 1918/19 Hamilton Tigers, Mickey Roach finished second more times than not. Whether as a player or coach, most teams were strong contenders with his participation. In recognition of his playing skills, the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame honored him in their initial inductions. In addition to the playing and coaching careers, he raised two sons in the hockey tradition. Cliff played briefly for the Providence Reds in the AHL. As for his daughters, Elsie Corinne died shortly after birth and Eleanor probably lived a quiet life. In 1977, Mickey Roach’s passage received more attention in the States than in Canada. It is assumed his wife, Elsie, passed away some time after. When compared to Herb Drury, Frenchy LaCroix and other USNAHL players, Mickey Roach was the most successful hockeyist.

NOTE: Misspellings of his last name, especially in the Boston Globe, are Roache, Roark, and Roche. Elsie’s middle name also changes greatly from Alida, Ileeda, and Illita in government records.

Additional reading:

The NAHL: Dr. Edmund “Eddie” Burke Nagle

Saskatoon’s adopted, Dr. Edmund Burke Nagle, dedicated himself equally to dentistry and amateur sports, especially hockey. Born in Almonte, Canada, Eddie, as he’d become to be known, played football and hockey at St. Joseph High School in the early-1900s. However, it was in college where his athletic talents rose to fame.

Starting in November, 1910, Eddie enrolled in Ottawa College with newspapers declaring his right half-back position. However, he also continued to play the seven-man hockey. He starred at center and learned under Father Stanton. Additionally, he played alongside Dr. Francis Charles “Dink” Madden with whom he’d become fast friends.

Prior to Eddie’s graduation, he traveled to Battleford, Saskatechewan for part of the 1913/14 season. Battleford desired a Senior A hockey team. Eddie only played for the one season and returned to Ottawa. Although he’d travel to play in other locales, like Dunnville, those brief months in Battleford must have made an impression.

After graduating in 1915, he waited or took a break. He continued to play amateur sports with the Ottawa Club. In Fall 1915, he injured his foot playing football, which may have required an operation. The injury possibly caused him to change his mind on professional hockey. However, the discussions between the Aberdeens (Amateur) and Coach Alfred Smith of the professional Ottawa Senators. Or, may be, it was conversations with his long time friend, Dink Madden.

In 1915, the newspapers expected Eddie to attend McGill University like his friend Dink. Instead, Eddie spent the year wandering from 1915 until 1916. During this time, he managed the Aberdeen’s amateur hockey team. Also, he played amateur sports with Dink Madden. In November 1916, Eddie and Dink surprised Ottawa by moving to Pittsburgh.

Eddie and Dink attended University of Pittsburgh to study Dentistry. They played hockey with the city’s famous Pittsburgh All-Stars, or YellowJackets. During the 1917/18 season, they also played in the National Amateur Hockey League with the All-Stars. In May 1918, they received their draft notice from Canada. Unlike four of their colleagues who joined the U.S. Army, Eddie and Dink traveled back to Canada to enlist. They chose to take a commission in the Royal Navy as Surgeon Probationers.

Eddie reunited with Dink in Pittsburgh in 1919 in time for school and hockey season. They continued to play with the All-Stars. After hockey, war and other events, Eddie and Dink graduated as dentists in June 1920.

Eddie and Dink had at least one last adventure together. Dink traveled to Ottawa to be witness for Eddie’s marriage. On July 14, 1920, Eddie married Kathleen Shamon. While Dink returned to Pittsburgh, Eddie and Kathleen moved back to Saskatoon and Battleford.

After starting up his practice, Eddie remained active in amateur sports, especially hockey. He played into his final years of life for the School for the Deaf. Additionally, he became renowned in trapshooting. He and Kathleen loved travel. On a cruise ship near San Fransisco, Dr. Edmund Nagle passed away on June 24, 1966. Eddie Nagle left behind a legacy of sports, dedication and community.

St. Joseph Church History
CEF Enlistment Paperwork, Library and Archives Canada
UK Naval List, July 1919
Marriage Certificate, Courtesy of (paid account required)
School for the Deaf, University of Saskatchewan
Dr. Nagle’s Obituary, Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon) courtesy of
Montreal Gazette
Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa Journal
Saskatoon Daily Star
Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon)
Pittsburgh Press

The NAHL: Lawrence “Larry” James McCormick

Lawrence “Larry” James McCormick left behind minor fame following his younger brother Joe to Pittsburgh.  Larry drove the Buckingham Seniors of the Lower Ottawa Valley League to three Maclaren Cups, 1907/08, 1912/13 and 1914/15. He captained the team during the 1914/15 run. For Larry, the decision to leave probably was more about supporting family and friends than chasing a cup.

The McCormick’s baptized their newest son, Larry, at St-Gregoire-de-Naziance in Buckingham, Quebec. Locked into tradition, Larry carried it with him throughout life.

Larry remained in Buckingham until 1915. Several factors possibly pushed, pulled or dragged Larry from Buckingham. During the summer, he, Joe and Ed Gorman, a 1927 Stanley Cup winner with the Ottawa Senators, left for Cleveland to play for Mr. Shannon. They quickly found themselves in Pittsburgh. Shannon ran afoul of the Ontario Hockey Association and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, who banned Cleveland’s team with claims of professionalism. As a result, the group found themselves trying out for the Pittsburgh teams in early January 1916. Roy Schooley picked them up for the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.

Buckingham and Pittsburgh recognized Larry’s shot and situational awareness. Newspapers from 1907 until the 20s commented on it. Roy declared Larry captain of the 1920 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team, which won silver.  Larry played one last season, 1921/22 before transitioning to coaching and refereeing.

Larry coached amateur Pittsburgh teams from the USAHA to the local club level. During his first season of coaching the YellowJackets, he got into an altercation with Canadian Soo player, Charley Boucher. Larry, as one of the two referees, penalized Boucher. Instead of heading to the bench, Boucher skated over to Larry. The Pittsburgh Press indicated Larry came out the better of the scrap. Whether fists flew or not, Larry personified hockey tradition.

Because Larry held-fast to amateurism, he worked as a car mechanic. His occupation in the war years was at Samson’s Motor Company. The employment ended with mobilization into the Army Motor Transport Corps along with teammates Joe McCormick, Herb Drury and Angus Baker. While he may have returned to work for Samson’s after the war, he found a new occupation, husband.

A scribbled note next to his baptism entry marks 19 July, 1921. Larry, much like his brother Joe, were practicing Catholics. Just after that date, Larry married Hazel Marie Chisholm. She probably did not like her first name. On drafts cards or military service compensation, Larry always wrote her name as “H. Marie”.

Around Roy’s death in November 1933, Larry and Marie started looking for a new place to settle. They were in New York for a bit in 1935. Larry came back to Pittsburgh for an old-timer’s game in February 1936. However, they found their home in Barnstable, Massachusetts. After a long illness, Larry passed away on 30 December, 1961 in Hyannis with services held at Our Lady of Victory. Marie’s journey continued until 7 November, 1980.

I think of the brothers as representing the two sides of the hockey coin. Joe represented the new era of hockey players. Whereas, Larry memorialized the hockey players of “then”.

Sat, Jan 12, 1929 – Page 16 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) ·

2. (Note: Requires paid account)
3. World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Massachusetts. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication M2090, 166 rolls. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A.
4. Institut Généalogique Drouin; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Drouin Collection; Author: Gabriel Drouin, comp
#. Pittsburgh Press, Ottawa Journal and others courtesy of

The NAHL: John “Jack” Gouverneur Hutchinson

In December 1917, the First Naval District acquired John G. Hutchinson from a private life as a farm manager. By the end of the month, Jack joined the First Naval District hockey team and assisted them to their first exhibition win over the Boston-based Arena Hockey Club. As with many other John’s of the era, newsprint often referred to him as “Jack”. Knowing this helped tracked him to the start of his hockey playing in Arlington High School in 1908 and all the way through his Amherst (Massachusetts Agriculture). He played amateur hockey for Boston Athletic Association until at least 1926. When he transitioned to coaching, he earned a new nickname, the “old fox”, which carried him through the 1930s. However, Jack’s era was the era of amateur hockey. As amateur hockey diminished, Jack blended into the background as well.

The “old fox” was born in Arlington, Massachusetts on July 20, 1891. He played high school hockey during his last two years at Arlington High School. When he attended Massachusetts Agricultural College (UMass Amherst), he played from 1911 until 1914. During this period, John also spent time in the military achieving the rank of sergeant prior to enlisting in the Navy. John’s high school and college years prepared him well for the future.

John became a Naval Aviator too late in the war to see action. In a bit of unintentional foreshadowing, his Naval Air Station Bay Shore flight school record states:

A little slow to learn – quiet – Industrious – Has confidence – good attitude – handles men well.

The instructor who noted that John “handles men well” probably did not expect him to become a successful hockey coach.

John did not immediately transition into coaching. He played in the US Amateur Hockey Association with the Boston Athletic Association Unicorns until 1926. After a two year hiatus, he started managing BAA hockey. In 1931, he managed the “university club” team. With nearly ten years of coaching and management experience, the Amateur Athletic Union selected him to lead the 1939 United States’ hockey team. On the cusp of WWII, John took ten players to Switzerland. They walked away with Silver.

Even as a coach, John maintained an Amateur status. He found work primarily as an automotive mechanic. Whether it was an automotive job or an airplane job, John worked at Roosevelt Field Inn in the early 40s. Roosevelt Field was one of the busiest airports in the United States in the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt Field Inn opened in 1930, which was nearly four years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous transatlantic trip. Shortly his WWII draft card listing, he moved on to Cote Motor Company.

After 13 years at Cote and two months of retirement, John Hutchinson passed away at his son’s house on October 4, 1956. In a twist of bureaucratic fate, John lived on in Veteran’s Affairs records. In 1963, a John G. Hutchinson claimed VA benefits from the West Roxbury VA hospital. While it probably was a mix up between him and his son, a probable WWII veteran, these little mysteries of every day heroes can be misleading trails or tantalizing puzzle boxes. Those that survived John include Edith, a son, and two grandchildren. Much like John, they blended into the historical background of every day life.

1. (Note: Requires paid account)
3. National Archives, john Hutchinson [Service # 001723610],
7. Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.  (Note: Requires Paid Account)
8. Boston Globe courtesy of

Additional sources:
Morrill Land Grant background:
Amherst under President Meiklejohn (1912-1923)

The NAHL: Alfred “Ralph” Winsor

With a multitude of accomplishments, The Boston Globe and others bequeathed the mantle of “Father of Modern Hockey” to “Ralph” Winsor Jr.  To summarize, many credit Ralph with the modern hockey stick, skate curve, and effective use of substitution (prior to the on-the-fly line changes of today). In his role as the first American-born college hockey coach, Ralph devised a new tactic specifically to counter Hobey Baker. Ralph shifted the point and cover point to force the forwards to the boards. The tactic was moderately successful in stopping Hobey. To help visualize this shift:



Not only did Ralph modernize hockey, he supported his country in war and hockey.

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The NAHL: Roy D. Schooley

Roy Dunlap Schooley, along with George Brown and Cornelius Fellowes Jr, completed the leadership triumvirate of the newly formed National Amateur Hockey League (NAHL). Like George, Roy came from more humble beginnings as a reporter in Welland, Ontario, Canada. In the early years of hockey, many reporters referreed games in order to get the story. As an independent reporter, Roy took advantage of this common practice. Roy, who apparently had a nose for a story, moved to Pittsburgh in 1901 and took this practice with him.

Outside of New York City and St. Paul, Pittsburgh attracted many Canadian hockey players. Tom Howard even played a few games there. In Pittsburgh, Roy gained renown as a referee. However, his primary means remained reporting. Working for the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, he focused on local politics. By 1917, Roy transitioned from a beat reporter to team owner/manager and embedded in the Pittsburgh political circles.

Between 1910 and 1930, Roy held many key city offices while maintaining the premier Pittsburgh hockey team. For example, Roy was the Chief Clerk of the Department of Public Works. These positions provided Roy the freedom to promote amateur hockey in Pittsburgh. In 1926, Roy transitioned the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets from amateur to professional hockey. With this move, Roy destroyed the NAHL and signaled the end of prominence of amateur hockey.

Roy moved through Pittsburgh Republican circles. He leveraged his knowledge of sports promotion to get several mayors elected. They rewarded Roy with the position of City Treasurer. In 1930, scandal wormed through the Republican stronghold. The city treasury came up short and several transactions appeared to be suspicious. Additional investigation identified that city funds lacked critical backing as mandated by law. The federal probe targeted Roy and other key leaders. When prosecutors were ready in 1933, Roy died from a protracted illness, and the embezzlement case against him dropped.

Roy Schooley sought local, national, and international recognition. He found it in Pittsburgh. He brought in one of the strongest teams into a fledgling amateur league. He attracted talent possibly equal to Hobey Baker with Herb Drury. Without Roy Schooley, the NAHL might have been just another New England curioso instead of near national level spectacle.

Tue, Nov 14, 1933 – Page 9 · The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) ·

The NAHL: CAPT William Rees Rush

At the start of 1917, Captain William Rees Rush commanded the Navy Yard in Boston and commandant of the First Naval District. He held the position since November, 1914. Although he officially retired on October 16, 1916, the Navy recalled him on October 17, 1916 to continue at Commander, Navy Yard, Boston. The Navy detached him from duty as Commander, First Naval District on February 7, 1918, but retained him as Commandant, Navy Yard. Finally, they retired Captain Rush on March 1919 upon being relieved of duty.  As Commandant, he oversaw many aspects of the Navy Yard and the transition to war. Besides reports of suspicious personnel or fires, he hired George Brown to be the athletic director for the First Naval District and promoted sports. For example, the Y.M.C.A built the first recreational facilities at the Navy Yard under his command. However, this is a small section of Captain Rush’s 43 year career in the United States Navy. And, it is not even the most significant time of his career.

Born in Philadelphia on September 19, 1857, William entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in June, 1872. This was not a Naval Academy midshipman appointment. William experienced a more “traditional” navy officer’s education. It lasted nearly ten years until his promotion to ensign in October, 1881.

Officer promotion worked completely different during Captain Rush’s service than now. Currently, promotions from ensign to lieutenant (junior grade) (LTJG) and LTJG to lieutenant (LT) are each two years with a minor review of the officer’s service record. William was promoted to LTJG in February, 1889 and promoted to LT in December, 1893. Ensign to LTJG was eight years and LTJG to LT was only four years. Plus, there were examinations. However, it is difficult to find much information without digging through the Bureau of Navigation or Personnel archives.

After several years at LT, William attended the Navy’s War College in 1900. This duty assignment prepared William for promotion to lieutenant commander (LCDR) in 1901. He also married Jane Pomroy Hare while attending the War College. There’s nearly a month of leave probably because Jane and William married in Hawaii.

In 1909, William was promoted to captain (CAPT). In December 1913, he attached to the Florida (BB-30). In April 1914, BB-30 and CAPT Rush were order to Vera Cruz as part of a expedition to evict General Victoriano Huerta from the Mexican presidency after a coup d’état. Between 21 and 22 April, CAPT Rush led a naval brigade (about 1,600 men) to take Vera Cruz. In about 24 hours, the city was captured with 17 dead and 65 wounded. In December, 1915, CAPT Rush was awarded the Medal of Honor.

After WWI, CAPT Rush and Jane Hare traveled Europe. Eventually, they landed up in Pallanza, Italy. CAPT Rush died on August 2, 1940, just after the fall of France. Jane Hare passes away in Switzerland on August 27, 1947.

As Commandant of the First Naval District, CAPT William Rush promoted sports and competition. It wasn’t limited to hockey, but football and other sports as well. He hired one of the best sports promoters of the era, and likely had a hand in acquiring talent, too. Whether for public relations or a competition against the Second Naval District or concern for the health of sailors, I doubt we’ll ever know. May be it was all three. Without Rush’s appointment of George Brown, we might not have had the first united states hockey league of national preeminence, the United States Amateur Hockey Association.

2. Naval Officer’s Service Record Abstract, National Archives, courtesy of Fold3 (
3. Confidential War Diaries (of the First Naval District) (1917-1918), National Archives,

The NAHL: George V. Brown

In late 1917, George V. Brown added a new role to his accomplished list, Athletic Director of the First Naval District. Prior to this, he held the same position of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). With the BAA, he started every Boston Marathon except for the first two. During his era, BAA teams won championships. He promoted sports whenever he got the chance. George was such a fixture in the BAA and Boston sports that the BAA suspended or refocused operations during 1918.

It is hard to tell who used whom. The U.S. Navy leveraged George’s sports promotions to increase its popularity. Quite possibly, the First Naval District hoped to gain an advantage in the regular sports competitions against Second Naval District (Newport, Rhode Island) and others. For George, he became responsible for Navy sports across most of New England.

Following the war, George returned the BAA back to its normal sports operations. A long time member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, George built the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team for the first Winter Olympics in 1924. (NOTE: Cornelius Fellowes created the first Olympic men’s hockey team in 1920.) It was a silver medal team consisting of Herb Drury and Alphonse La Croix.

George also experienced change in hockey from the amateur to the professional. While George supported professional hockey, George believed in the amateur spirit. He tried several times to establish a new amateur league in the Boston after the break up of the US Amateur Hockey Association. In 1932, the Boston Globe commented about George’s efforts to “breathe new life into the amateur hockey corpse.” Despite a potentially 150 registered clubs with the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU), amateur hockey would never regain a prominent role.

Fri, Dec 23, 1932 – 16 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) ·

3. Boston Globe, December 23, 1932, courtesy of,
4. Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1931, courtesy of,