George Corneal

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George Corneal
George Corenal.jpg
Sport(s) Basketball, track
Biographical details
Born (1883-09-13)September 13, 1883
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died December 28, 1944(1944-12-28) (aged 61)
Cleveland, Ohio
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
? Ohio State
1909 Michigan
1910 Boise Normal School
1911–1914 Rock Island HS
1914–1917 Wisc.-Stevens Pt.
1917–1944 Lakewood HS
Head coaching record
Overall 23–16 (college basketball)

George Durkin Corneal (September 13, 1883 – December 28, 1944) was an American basketball, track and football coach. In 1909, he became the first basketball coach at the University of Michigan and led the Michigan Wolverines basketball team to a 1-4 record. He also coached football, track, and basketball at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and Lakewood High School.

Early years[edit]

Corneal was born in Philadelphia in 1883.[1] He graduated from Temple University and attended the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.[2] His first coaching job was at Ohio State University.[2]

University of Michigan[edit]

1909 Michigan Wolverines basketball team coached by Corneal.

In the fall of 1907, he was hired as the assistant in physical training at the University of Michigan's Waterman Gymnasium. While at Michigan, he also served as the coach of the school's first varsity basketball team in 1909.[3] The Michigan Alumnus announced the formation of the team in January 1909:

"For the first time in the history of the University there is to be a varsity basketball team. Realizing the demand for an indoor winter sport and the presence of good material in college, the athletic authorities passed a resolution providing for a basketball team and granted them a schedule of seven or eight games for this season. Coach Corneal finds himself up against the same proposition that always faces Coach Yost and Keene Fitzpatrick. His best men are ineligible and his 'reserves' consequently give his varsity a drubbing almost every evening when they line up in practice games. ... However, the coach is working hard and admits that he expects to have a good team rounded out by the time the first game is played with M.A.C."[4]

The Michigan team compiled a record of 1-4 under Corneal.[5]

Boise and Rock Island[edit]

After leaving Michigan, Corneal coached for a time at the Normal School in Boise, Idaho.[2] At the time of the 1910 Census, Corneal was living in Boise and identified his occupation as a school teacher.[6]

From 1911 to 1914, Corneal was the basketball coach at Rock Island High School in Rock Island, Illinois. In three seasons at Rock Island, Corneal's teams compiled a record of 19-18.[7]

Stevens Point[edit]

For three academic years from 1914 to 1917, Corneal was the athletic director and head basketball, track and football coach at the Stevens Point State Normal School, now known as the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.[8][9][10][11] In three years at Stevens Point, Corneal's basketball teams compiled a record of 22-12, including an 11-2 record during the 1916-1917 season.[8] In September 1917, when Corneal accepted a position in Ohio, the move was front page news in Stevens Point. The Stevens Point Daily Journal wrote:

"He came here three years ago and conducted the Normal athletics in a successful manner. Stevens Point under him has had football teams which each year made a bid for the conference championship. He has also had charge of the physical work among the boys. His loss will be a serious one here ..."[12]

Lakewood High School[edit]

In September 1917, Corneal moved from Stevens Point, Wisconsin to Lakewood, Ohio.[13] He was hired as the athletic director, football coach, basketball coach and track coach at Lakewood High School.[9] Corneal stepped down as the school's football coach in 1935,[14] but he remained the track for 27 years from coach from 1917 to 1944.[15][16] He was also the cross country coach from 1928 through 1943.[17] In his obituary, the Associated Press noted that "Corneal was famed for his powerful cinder path teams which dominated northern Ohio track circles for many years."[2] His teams won five Ohio state track titles and three Ohio state cross country titles. He coached 51 individual state track meet winners and one state cross country meet winner.[17] Several of his teams won national honors, and his athletes broke the world schoolboy record for the mile relay in 1925, the world schoolboy medley record in 1929, and the national two mile relay record in 1930.[2] During his tenure at Lakewood, Corneal also founded the Lakewood Relays in 1922 and served as the meet's director.[18][19][20]

Corneal has been inducted into the Lakewood Hall of Fame.[16] He also served as the vice president of the Ohio Association of Track Coaches,[21] and was posthumously inducted into that organization's Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 1969.[17]

Family and death[edit]

In July 1912, Corneal married Rachel V. Abott at Bon Homme County, South Dakota.[22] They had a son, George A. Corneal, born in approximately 1916 in Wisconsin.[23][24]

Corneal died in 1944 following an illness of several months.[2][15]


  1. ^ U.S. World War II Draft Registration Card completed by George Durkin Corneal, born September 13, 1883, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Resident of Lakewood, Ohio.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "George Corneal, Famous Cinder Coach, Is Dead". The Newark Advocate and American Tribune. December 29, 1944. 
  3. ^ "PLENTY OF MATERIAL AT ANN ARBOR NOW: Coach Corneal's Hardest Task Will Be to Pick the Best Men for Basketball Team". Detroit Free Press. February 17, 1909. 
  4. ^ "The Varsity Basketball Team". The Michigan Alumnus. January 1909. 
  5. ^ "U of M Men's Basketball". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. 
  6. ^ 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Boise, Ada, Idaho; Roll: T624_221; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0007; Image: 287; FHL Number: 1374234.
  7. ^ "Rock Island Basketball: Official Website of the Runnin' Rocks". Rock Island/Milan School District. 
  8. ^ a b "George Corneal". SR/College Basketball. Archived from the original on 2011-09-14. 
  9. ^ a b "Corneal Does Well: Former Coach at Stevens Point Normal Develops Strong Team at Cleveland". The Gazette, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. November 28, 1917. 
  10. ^ "Football Men Meet". Stevens Point Journal. September 23, 1916. (Corneal football coach)
  11. ^ "Track Prospects Good: More Than Forty Athletes Expected To Sign Up For 1917 Track Team at Normal". The Gazette, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. March 23, 1917. 
  12. ^ "Corneal Resigns Miss Luce Also: Two Members of the Faculty of the Stevens Point State Normal Leave Here Soon to Take Other Positions". Stevens Point Daily Journal. September 6, 1917. 
  13. ^ "Going To Cleveland". The Gazette, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. September 12, 1917. 
  14. ^ "Clarence Zwick Is New Lakewood High School Grid Coach". The Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, Ohio. August 1, 1935. 
  15. ^ a b "GEORGE D. CORNEAL; Vice President of the Ohio Track Coaches Association Dies". The New York Times. December 30, 1944. 
  16. ^ a b "Hall of Fame recalls city's sports greats". Lakewood Public Library. Archived from the original on 2011-05-04. 
  17. ^ a b c "Hall of Fame: Class of 1969". Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches. 
  18. ^ "Lakewood Relays Scheduled Today". Youngstown Vindicator. May 6, 1927. 
  19. ^ "Schools Set For Big Meet at Lakewood". May 7, 1927. 
  20. ^ "Lakewood High Seeks Eighth Win". Youngstown Vindicator. May 9, 1931. 
  21. ^ "Clevelander Heads Ohio Track Group". Toledo Blade. March 27, 1944. 
  22. ^ South Dakota Marriages, 1905-1949 [database on-line].
  23. ^ 1930 Census entry for George D. Corneal, Rachel V. Corneal and George A. Corneal residing in Lakewood, Ohio. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Lakewood, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: 1786; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 631; Image: 200.0.
  24. ^ 1920 Census entry for George D. Corneal, Rachel V. Corneal and George A. Corneal residing in Lakewood, Ohio. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Lakewood Ward 3, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Roll: T625_1375; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 583; Image: 1157.