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Jerry Rickard
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Rolfe High School Class of 1961

Sports played a big role in my adolescent and formative years in Rolfe. I have always thought that my interest in sports was generated by coming from a family (father and uncles) who had enjoyed sports, but I don't remember being pushed into playing them. I suspect that there were other factors such as the general popularity of sports and watching the high school kids participate in the 50's and thinking they were such heros; however, nothing was more important than the opportunity one gets to participate in these activities in a small community like Rolfe.

These opportunities existed at Rolfe when many of us might have been discouraged or had our attention diverted to other avenues in larger schools.

My early involvement in sports started with my participation in the legendary battles between the Jets and Sneakin’ Indians which pitted the kids from the west side of town (Jets) against the kids from the east side of town (Sneakin’ Indians). I was a renegade of sorts since when the series which was composed of annual football, basketball, track, and other contests started, I lived on the east side of town, but participated for the Jets. Later I moved to the west end and became legitimate. I never knew exactly how this rivalry started, just that Sid Beckord (Jets) and Pat Calligan (Sneakin’ Indians) were the leaders and had recruited their younger brothers, friends and others to play on their teams. Later, most of us from the Jets and Indians terminated our rivalry, joined forces and began playing on the Rolfe Rockets junior high teams.

Articles from my scrapbook in 1955 and 1956 suggest that we must have received some good preparation and training for our junior high and high school years. These articles indicate that the Rockets defeated Laurens 33-7 in football and ran Rolfe’s unbeaten string to seven games over a two year period and then beat Emmetsburg 34-7 to win Rolfe’s eighth game in a row. An article dated April 26, 1956, states that the Rockets won the Third Annual Track Relays beating teams from Emmetsburg, Laurens, Newell, Manson, Pocahontas, Bode, Graettinger, Albert City, Palmer and Swea City. The scrapbooks also document that we had success in high school basketball as Rams with an 18-4 record in 1960 and a 14-4 record in 1961 as well as winning records in football with a monumental 6-2 homecoming upset in 1960 over state-ranked Twin Rivers which had won 15 games in a row.

I recall the Friday night football and basketball games; homecoming in the fall with the floats, parade and alumni returning; the sectional and district basketball games in our new gym and the track meets around the state. I remember the coaches, Bill Rickard and Bob Nielsen, who taught us not only the fundamentals of these sports, but helped to develop us into better individuals. I also remember the fans and parents who supported us and the fellowship, lifelong friendships, ideals of teamwork and sharing which resulted from these activities. Growing up in Rolfe gave me the chance to participate in football, basketball, baseball and track from the time I entered junior high until I graduated in 1961, but also taught me valuable lessons which went far beyond the basic principles of these sports.

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