I have always described myself as athletic as a corpse. I did try my best; my best was worse than feeble. Recently, I told a former student my father would have loved him because he could catch a ball and actually liked baseball. Even though I have witnessed many athletic events/games at the school, I have never retained much about what I have witnessed. I do miss the Elmer Nelson Gymnasium, but that stems more from the Christmas Pageants, all- school Wednesday assemblies with Mr. Teitelman, and nightmares about taking “emergency” showers in the boys’ locker room before an evening event at the school.
So, again, I must rely on information from Chet Preisser. Go, Owls, especially one named Chet:
“Our gym classes were small in number. . . but big in vigor and variety. Acrobatics and apparatus work, along with calisthenics and other exercises, helped keep our children fit. The winter program would culminate in a gym circus with all the trimmings-- clowns, elephants, lions, horses, tight wire walkers, and so on. . . Our trampoline, which was one of the few in Denver, was the most popular piece of apparatus for stunts. Popular were also jungle tag and giants in the cave.
“The boys’ favorite fall sport was football . . . Soccer, speedball, shinny, and prisoners’ base were other favorite games played in the fall. Softball, track, and excursions on bikes or horses were the popular activities in the spring. Then, there were the annual fifth-grade Roman chariot races with their shop- made chariots. The fourth grade during its study of Greek history became Olympic athletes and performed with the pomp and ceremony of the competitors of ancient Greece. This was the forerunner of our annual Track and Field Day.
“Our jungle gym. . . was designed in our shop and made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gates who sent their men and materials out to Graland to construct it. . .”
“The area now known as Preisser Field was purchased by the Board members in 1939. It was necessary to use the land, or it would be taxed. As we were entering the war years, we decided to build a commando course. With the help of some of the parents & children and donations of material, we built a course that even the army trainees would respect. It was just like the real thing. . . The course was tested for speed and endurance, and many games were invented, all for the sake of development and fun.
“As the years passed, the athletic program became more sophisticated and precise. The number of pupils grew. In January of 1951, Dave Rice joined the athletic staff. He coached champions or near champions for years.
“Our competition is keen, and we strive to win, but win or lose, we want our athletes to be sports in every way, learning that it takes courage, ability, and steadfast determination to become a champ. To me, Graland is a school of champions. . . “