Grand Rapids Nabs 1918 Basketball Championship

It was a basketball season for the ages at Grand Rapids Lincoln High School. After a 14-1 season, the team stormed into the 14th annual Wisconsin state basketball tournament held March 20-22, 1918 at Lawrence College in Appleton. By defeating Columbus (32-25), Marinette (34-25) and Wausau (27-15), Grand Rapids secured its first Wisconsin state championship. Three Rapids players made the All-State team.

Three members of the squad were named All-State after winning the championship.
Three members of the squad were named All-State after winning the championship.
In the team photo, back row:
  • William Smith (1900-1991)
  • Arthur H. Plahmer (1899-1984)
  • Coach Elmer J. Abrahamson (1891-1978)
  • Roy T. “Cap” Normington (1899-1960)
  • Raymond A. “Jock” Johnston (1900-1977)
In the front row:
  • Arthur “Worry” Kluge (1898-1974)
  • Stanley S. “Pudge” Stark (1900-1979)
  • Walter F. “Kaiser” Fritz (1898-1964)

Stark was the team captain and scoring champion with 205 points. He was named a forward on the All-State team. The other All-State honorees were Plahmer (center) and Smith (guard). The only defeat of the season came at the hands of Nekoosa during sectionals play. The season high score was achieved January 18, 1918 with a 64-12 drubbing of Wautoma. A week later, that same Wautoma team nearly knocked off Rapids before falling 18-16.

The irony of the 1917-1918 season is that the school year started with  no basketball coach on the payroll at Lincoln High School. In short order, the services of Elmer J. Abrahamson were secured for the season. A 1915 graduate of Lawrence College, Abrahamson was a star college athlete in basketball, track and the pentathlon. Abrahamson only stayed for the championship season. He went on to a long teaching career in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He died in 1978.

©2015 The Hanneman Archive

9 thoughts on “Grand Rapids Nabs 1918 Basketball Championship”

  1. I am curious how you came about so much information on this basketball team. I did some historical research on a student at Lincoln High School, Class of 1918, due to a yearbook I ran across at John K. King Used Books in Detroit. She married Roy Normington.


    1. Victor,

      My grandparents attended Lincoln High during this time period, so I have a number of yearbooks. I supplemented with information from news clippings and other sources I use in my research.


      1. Roy Normington married Kathryn “Kee” McGlynn, class of 1918, and attended Columbia, becoming a school administrator, superintendent of Reedsburg, Wisconsin public schools. He passed away in 1961 following sinus surgery. Kee lived until 1989.


  2. Victor, thanks for sharing this extra detail. I often wonder when looking at these photos what became of those young faces. Sometimes I make the effort to look them up and learn the great things they accomplished in life.


    1. Thank you for sharing that! I love the nicknames on the team. I seem to recall that surname being associated with a photo studio in the area. I have some old portraits with that name in foil stamp.


      1. Maybe – I have a portrait of Arthur’s family at his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary- portrait by Joseph M Klun studio (not Kluge)
        Thanks so much!! Love this basketball photo!


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