Eugene Oberst

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Eugene Oberst
Eugene Oberst.png
Oberst pictured in The Calyx 1930, Washington and Lee yearbook
Sport(s) Football, basketball, track and field
Biographical details
Born (1901-07-23)July 23, 1901
Owensboro, Kentucky
Died May 30, 1991(1991-05-30) (aged 89)
Cleveland, Ohio
Playing career
1920 Notre Dame
1922–1923 Notre Dame
Track and field
1922–1924 Notre Dame
Position(s) Tackle (football)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1926–1927 Roman Catholic HS (PA)
1929–1930 Washington and Lee
1931–1932 Canisius
1936–1942 John Carroll (line)
1946 John Carroll
1945–1946 John Carroll
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1947–1951 John Carroll
Head coaching record
Overall 9–25–5 (college football)
15–3–1 (high school football)
4–11 (college basketball)
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 1924 Paris Javelin throw

Eugene G. "Gene" Oberst (July 23, 1901 – May 30, 1991) was an American football player, track and field athlete, coach of football and basketball, and college athletics administrator. A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, he played football at the University of Notre Dame in the 1920s under coach Knute Rockne, and competed in track and field as a javelin thrower. He won the Olympic bronze medal at the 1924 Summer Games in Paris. Oberst served as the head football coach at Washington and Lee University (1929–1930), Canisius College (1931–1932), and John Carroll University (1946).

Football career[edit]

Oberst, who was listed at 6' 5" (1.96 m) and 203 lbs (92 kg),[1] was a right tackle for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 1920, 1922, and 1923, wearing uniform No. 30.[2] He was one of Notre Dame's "Seven Mules," the offensive linemen who blocked for the team's legendary Four Horsemen in the 1920s. Oberst's teammates also included halfback George Gipp.

Javelin throw[edit]

As the possibly apocryphal story goes, Oberst was walking by a Notre Dame track and field practice one day when a javelin landed nearby. He picked it up and threw it far beyond the original thrower. Rockne, who coached track and field as well as football, saw the toss, and drafted Oberst on the spot.[3] Oberst was the 1921 NCAA javelin champion, with a throw of 191' 2" (58.27 m). At the 1924 Penn Relays, Oberst's throw of 196' 2 5/8" (59.80 m) beat the meet record by more than 8 feet.[4] Oberst had a disappointing performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Cambridge, Massachusetts, finishing in 5th place with a throw of 180' 3" (54.94 m).[5] The U.S. Olympic Committee added Oberst to the Olympic team, anyway, because of his better results at previous meets. The Olympic Trials winner, William Neufeld of UC Berkeley went on to finish fifth at the Olympics.

In Paris, Oberst's throw of 58.35 m won him the bronze medal, behind the defending Olympic champion, Jonni Myyrä of Finland (62.96 m) and Gunnar Lindström of Sweden (60.92 m). Oberst was the first American to win an Olympic medal in the javelin throw, and only seven Americans have medaled since, most notably Babe Didrikson at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Oberst's Notre Dame football teammate Tom Lieb also made the 1924 U.S. Olympic team, in the discus throw, and won the bronze medal.

Coaching career[edit]

After college, Oberst became a coach, teacher, and athletics administrator. In 1926 and 1927, his football teams at Roman Catholic High School won the championships of the Philadelphia Catholic League,[6] with a combined record of 15–3–1. From 1929 to 1930, Oberst coached the Washington and Lee University Generals, compiling a 6–11–2 record.[7] In 1931 and 1932, Oberst coached at Canisius College, where his record was 2–7–3.

Oberst later moved on to John Carroll College, now John Carroll University, where he finished his career. He was a football line coach for the Blue Streaks from 1936 to 1942. Oberst then served as director of the school's V-12 Navy training program from 1942 to 1946. He was head basketball coach during the 1945–46 season, with a 4–11 record,[8] and head football coach in 1946, with a 1–7 record.[9] Oberst also coached the school's track and field team from 1947 to 1948. Finally, Oberst served as John Carroll's athletic director from 1947 to 1951.

Later years[edit]

In 1971, Oberst was inducted into John Carroll University's Athletic Hall of Fame.[10] In 1976, he was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.[11] Oberst died in Cleveland in 1991.

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Washington and Lee Generals (Southern Conference) (1929–1930)
1929 Washington and Lee 3–5–1 1–4–1 18th
1930 Washington and Lee 3–6–1 0–4–1 22nd
Washington and Lee: 6–11–2 1–8–2
Canisius Golden Griffins (Western New York Little Three Conference) (1931–1932)
1931 Canisius 1–5–2 0–1–1 3rd
1932 Canisius 1–2–1[n 1] 0–0
Canisius: 2–7–3 0–1–1
John Carroll Blue Streaks (Ohio Athletic Conference) (1946)
1946 John Carroll 1–7 1–3 T–13th
John Carroll: 1–7 1–3
Total: 9–25–5


  1. ^ Oberst coached only the first four games of the season. Mike Traynor coached the final four games.