Luther North did offer basketball, football, and baseball for its male students from what we can tell as a charter member of the Private School League in 1930, but we are unsure if the girls had to the ability to participate in sports with a Girls’ Athletic Association (GAA) club or a similar group. Information is needed and can be sent to us at the addresses listed below.
The roundball was one of the first sports offered at the school and had one very special moment during the 1945-46 season. Luther racked up a 22-2 mark that season, defeating the likes of Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Fenwick, and Maywood Proviso. Coach Louis Menking’s squad also won the Private School League tournament in that season, and were rebuffed in their efforts by the Catholic League champs to decide who might be an unofficial city champion.
1930-31 Private School League Champions coach unknown
1935-36 Private School League Champions coach unknown
1945-46 22- 2 PSL Season & Tourney Champs! Coach Louis Menking
With help from our conference guru Tom Sikorski, Luther began a football program in 1944. Records from the first season have been partially found, but it was a competitive program from 1945 until the final season of 1952.
1945 4-3-1 3rd Place Private School League Coach Ted Leitz
1948 4-2-2 3rd Place Private School League Coach Ted Leitz
1950 5-2-1 3rd Place Private School League Coach Ted Leitz
1951 4-3-1 3rd Place (tie) Private School League Coach Ted Leitz
1952 5-0-3 2nd Place Private School League Coach Ted Leitz
The school also offered some diamond action in the spring, but no records are available. We do understand that Louis Menking also coached the sport from the 1930’s into the early 1950’s, so we do need more details about Luther’s baseball program.
Luther offered a number of other activities to allow other students express their talents. One of the things that the school offered was opera as they presented the Gilbert and Sullivan classic, “The Mikado” in 1940. Presentations like this were a chance to showcase the music department at the school, plus even the school newspaper wrote some accounts about them.
|Program from “The Mikado”
|Courtesy of Sue Owen
|Program from “The Mikado”
|courtesy of Sue Owen
|School newspaper account of music department
|courtesy of Sue Owen
FAMOUS ALUMS AND COACHES
Joe Pahr (class of 1946) — earned 10 varsity letters (four each in baseball and basketball, two in football), and went on to play at Valparaiso College (now University) as a member of the Crusader football team. Pahr wound up an two-time All-American at Valpo (1950-51) and set both the school’s career scoring mark (234 points) and career rushing total (2,326) in just three seasons. Those figures lasted over 50 years before being surpassed by other players. Pahr also scored 46 points in a basketball game during an era when teams didn’t even average that many per game. Joe is a member of both the Luther North and Valparaiso Athletic Hall of Fame.
Alvin Harks (class of 1946) — Led Luther in rebounding and field goal percentage during the 1945-46 season from his center position. Alvin was also a football star and was all-conference during his (and the school’s) first two seasons.
Wallace Pflug (class of 1955) — An all-around athlete like Joe Pahr, he was an all-conference pick in three sports and went on to play baseball at Yale.
Ed Krueger (class of 1956) — As a freshman, Ed was a member of the final Luther Institute football team that went undefeated. He later went on to gain all-conference honors for three years running, plus received all-state mention his final two seasons.
Louis Menking (coach from 1930’s-early 1950’s) — Had records been kept, he could have been ranked as one of the top coaches for career winning percentage in basketball and baseball. Louis later served as the first superintendent of the Lutheran High School Association and was an education executive in the 1970’s.
Ted Leitz (football coach 1944-1952) — Ted was the first head football coach at Luther Institute as well as Luther North and served as the mentor at Walther Lutheran and Concordia in River Forest. His 1952 team competed for the PSL title that season, as he built the program from scratch into an area power.
George Yursky (assistant football coach, 1945-1952) — In helping Ted Leitz, George was responsible for developing a winning tradition at Luther and Luther North, later taking over as Luther North’s head coach in 1953 when Leitz left for Walther Lutheran. While in the head coach position, Yursky’s teams went 18-3-3 over a three-year period from 1959-61 and overall compiled a mark of 44-18-5.
IF YOU HAVE MORE INFORMATION….
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Illinois High School Glory Days
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