Dr. J.B. Crenshaw

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During his term as the Faculty Director of Athletics at Georgia Tech, Dr. John Bascom Crenshaw created and developed the first varsity lacrosse program at Tech. He not only helped to pioneer the sport at Tech, but throughout the southern United States as well [1]. Even outside of lacrosse, Dr. Crenshaw made influential contributions to other areas of athletics at Tech and the Institute as a whole.

Dr. John Bascom Crenshaw: viewed far left.[2]


Contents

Early Life

John Bascom Crenshaw was born in 1861 in Virginia. Dr. Crenshaw attended Randolph-Macon College for his undergraduates degree until 1881 [3]. From Randolph-Macon, he went on to attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he not only earned his doctorate, but began to accumulate his knowledge of lacrosse while playing on the team [3].

Before Tech

Dr. Crenshaw’s significant background in lacrosse began when he attended the Johns Hopkins University Doctorate program. The first lacrosse team at Johns Hopkins was formed in 1888, only two years before his acceptance into the doctorate program and three years before he began to play for the team [1]. Even while Dr. Crenshaw was a part of the team, the rules of lacrosse (as they are recognized today) were beginning to take shape. He continued through the duration of his academic stay at Johns Hopkins to receive his PhD from the University in 1893 where he would officially be known as Dr. J.B. Crenshaw. Even after he received his degree, he continued to serve on the faculty until 1902 [1].

Career at Tech

Dr. Crenshaw began his career at Georgia Tech in 1904 when he accepted the position of Faculty Director of the Athletic Association[3]. From his position, he began to reach out into the athletic department and to assist the various programs in any way he could.

Letters to the Intercollegiate Golf Association

On March 5, 1918, Dr. Crenshaw put forward Georgia Tech's application for membership to the Intercollegiate Golf Association of America. However, a mail ballot of the members of the Association was deemed necessary before Tech was considered a member. On January 24, 1919, a reply came back from the Association stating that the application of membership for Georgia Tech was denied due to it not receiving the required number of votes. Unknown to Dr. Crenshaw at the time, the Association had not received the votes because of a period of recess that occurred directly after they received Tech's application. Confused, he took the opportunity to review his previous correspondences with the Association. After an extensive review of his current situation and through a small series of letters, the situation was revealed and a second ballot was proposed.

It wasn't until after Dr. Crenshaw's continued perseverance that the Georgia Institute of Technology was finally accepted as a full-fledged member of the Intercollegiate Golf Association of America [4]. However, this was just a start for his career at Georgia Tech.

1923 Swim Team

Dr. Crenshaw even expressed interest in Georgia Tech's swim team at the time. Before the start of the 1923 swim season, Dr. Crenshaw received a letter of correspondence from S.H. Bullock. Included was a detailed schedule of potential matches for which both Bullock and Dr. Crenshaw believed would provide the greatest competition for the swim team [5]. He and Bullock agreed to attempt to schedule meets against schools such as: the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina, Citadel College in Charleston, and the University of North Carolina. But through a conversation held between the two through a series of letters, an idea emerged. Bullock proposed the notion that they should find a way to sponsor an intercollegiate swim meet for all the willing schools in the southeastern region [5]. With this in mind, both parties believed that Georgia Tech would be an example for other universities in the region. If more and more of the universities would contribute to the proposed swim meet, then the program would have a foundation for expanding to the rest of the nation.

Lacrosse at Tech

The year 1924 saw the beginning of lacrosse at Georgia Tech. It was then that Dr. Crenshaw formed the first varsity lacrosse team at Tech using his previous experience playing lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University [1]. Acknowledging that the sport was brand new at Tech and that most would have little to no prior experience playing, he scheduled a series of warm-up matches in order for the players to get a feel for the competition.

The Georgia Tech lacrosse team began its history with two matches against the lacrosse team from Fort Benning. Of the two matches played, both were losses. However, Dr. Crenshaw used both of these losses to begin to develop both the team's overall strategies and techniques. Slowly, more games were added to schedule while at the same time, a freshman team was created [1] .

Starting with the 1928 season, the lacrosse team began to play the leaders of the sport of lacrosse at the time. Dr. Crenshaw scheduled matches against top schools such as: the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, the United States Naval Academy, and even his previous school, Johns Hopkins University [1]. Before any of the lined up matches were played, the lacrosse team at Tech was dropped. Because of this turn of events, 1927 was the official final season of lacrosse at Georgia Tech until 1971. A combination of the Great Depression and the onset of World War II is also attributed to the delay of restarting the program [1].

Legacy and Influence

Even while Dr. Crenshaw was only a part of the Georgia Tech staff, the scope of his influence can be seen. During the varsity lacrosse team’s final season (1927) at Tech until 1971, he received a letter from a former member of the team, O.M. Parundage. Parundage played for the team the prior year, but transferred to Stetson University in Deland, Florida, the year after. In the letter, Parundage expresses how his time playing lacrosse at Tech under Dr. Crenshaw created a great interest for the sport. He then states that because of his experiences at Tech, he wants to attempt to create a varsity lacrosse team at Stetson. According to Parundage, the only thing that he was missing to complete the start up was a list of names and locations to purchase equipment [6].

Later Life

Keeping with all of his previous experience in athletics, Dr. Crenshaw played tennis in his forties and even late into his seventies. He kept up with the athletics programs at Georgia Tech through the Georgia Tech Faculty Tennis Tournament [1].

In 1942, Dr. John Bascom Crenshaw died at the age of 81. As if his influence at Georgia Tech wasn’t enough, the 1941 Blue Print was dedicated to him in honor of all the contributions he made not only to athletic department, but to the Tech campus as a whole [1].

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "Georgia Tech Men's Lacrosse." LaxTeams.net - Lacrosse Websites for Teams, Camps & USL Chapters. Web. 03 Oct. 2010. <http://laxteams.net/gt/page.html?page=1341>.
  2. "Georgia Tech's Institutional Repository: Blue Print, 1927." Georgia Tech's Institutional Repository: Home. Web. 03 Oct. 2010. <http://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/15062>.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Inventory of the J. B. Crenshaw Papers, 1910-1950 MS051." Georgia Tech Library. 2005. Web. 03 Oct. 2010. <http://www.library.gatech.edu/archives/finding-aids/display/xsl/MS051>.
  4. "Inventory of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association Records, 1892-1978."; Box 4; Folder (5/13). Georgia Tech Library. 2005. Print. <http://www.library.gatech.edu/archives/finding-aids/display/xsl/UA300>.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Inventory of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association Records, 1892-1978."; Box 4; Folder (8/13). Georgia Tech Library. 2005. Print. <http://www.library.gatech.edu/archives/finding-aids/display/xsl/UA300>.
  6. "Inventory of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association Records, 1892-1978."; Box 4; Folder (6/13). Georgia Tech Library. 2005. Print. <http://www.library.gatech.edu/archives/finding-aids/display/xsl/UA300>.
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