The history of football at St. Paul Academy can be traced back to the early 1900's when the sport was a requirement for all students. Since then, the team has had many memorable games against rival Blake School culminating in a 2011 celebration that marked 100 years of play between the two schools. The co-operative SMB Wolfpack team was formed in 2015, with players from St. Paul Academy and Summit School, Blake School, and Minnehaha Academy, among others. The SMB Wolfpack won the Class AAAA Minnesota Football Championship in 2018 and the State Championship Runner-Up trophy the following year in 2019.
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- Henry H. Putnam '25
- Charles Richards “Dick” Gordon '29
- Donald G. “Don” McNeely '33
- Joseph P. “Joe” Schwab '33
- Frank M. Brown, Jr. '38
- W. Thomas “Tom” Doar '39
- Jeptha D. “Jep” Knox '40
- John M. Doar '40
- Robert C. "Bob" Brown, Sr. '41
- William A. “Bill” Bierman, Sr. '42
- Richard L. “Dick” Stryker, Sr. '42
- Robert R. "Bob" Carley, Jr. '43
- William E. “Bill” Frenzel '46
- Stanley “Stan” Shepard '47
- William Langford '53
- Peter M.J. “Pete” Frenzel '54
- David Goins '64
- William Larson '79
- Thomas Vannelli '73
Henry Putnam '25 became a star athlete at St. Paul Academy. One of the first students to play on the recently built football fields on the Randolph Campus, under first-year coach Al Smith, who himself became a legend.
Putnam was captain of the team his senior year and served as a kicker, receiver, and quarterback throughout the season. In his final year at SPA the team had impressive wins over Cretin (26-6), Johnson High (12-0), University High (12-0), and capped off the season with an impressive 6-6 tie with undefeated Blake. Putnam was especially noted in the Now and Then for his play on the field during the Blake game: “The good old passing combination, Read to Putnam, once more to the rescue, when Putnam received the ball on a short pass and dove head-long across the line through three Blake tacklers to score." The game was noted as being one of the best games the Academy boys had ever played to date, and Coach Al Smith would go on to remember Putnam as one of his most memorable players almost a quarter of a century later.
Henry Putnam would go on to play at Williams College where he was awarded the Brooks Trophy, recognizing his athletics contributions as a senior in 1929. In addition to football, Putnam was also the captain of SPA baseball and basketball teams and was awarded the Senior Athletic Cup.
For Dick Gordon '29, athletic endeavors of others were his métier from an early age. While at St. Paul Academy, Dick played on the football team, baseball team (serving as captain in 1927), and on the intramural basketball team. In addition, Dick served on the Now and Then staff and as the Editor-in-Chief in 1929.
After graduating from SPA, Dick began his writing career at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, eventually moving on to become a specialized sportswriter at the Chicago Daily News. He then joined the Marines during World War II where he would occasionally serve as a correspondent for military sporting events. Following the war, he landed at the Minneapolis Star Tribune where he became a beloved local reporter from 1946-1981 and his byline graced decades of reporting on St. Paul Academy’s wins and losses. Dick would go on to write for a number of publications including Pro-Football Weekly, Baseball Digest, the Highland Reporter, the Highland Villager, and the Grand Gazette. Dick was also tapped as a special correspondent by Sports Illustrated when it began publication.
Dick's children attended St. Paul Academy and St. Paul Academy and Summit School and he had the pleasure of being able to write about the athletics endeavors of Charlie '64, Robert '69, and Dick '71. Even after retirement, Dick was a living link to history, pulling from his original notes, details told to him decades later by middle-aged players reliving youthful triumphs.
As a member of the football and baseball teams, and captain of the champion intramural basketball team, Don McNeely was valued for his athletic abilities.
A right tackle on the football team his senior year, Don helped his team to impressive wins: 14-0 over Breck, 7-0 over Harding, and ended that year with a 7-0 win over rival Blake. In the 7-0 win over Harding, McNeely made an impressive interception to keep the opposing team scoreless and was noted in the Now and Then as a star player in the game against Blake, breaking up numerous passes and rushing the passer on multiple occasions.
On the baseball field, McNeely was an integral part of the Academy program. As shortstop and pitcher, McNeely helped his team win over St. Thomas and Blake and was noted for his consistency on the pitching mound as the season progressed.
As a classmate and teammate to Joe Schwab '33, Don led an effort to establish the Joe Schwab Award in 1965 to recognize those who embodied the similar athletic and leadership qualities that Schwab possessed.
Joe Schwab was a very talented athlete while at SPA. A member of the football team, hockey team, and captain of the baseball team, Schwab won SPA's Harvard Cup for his athletic and academic abilities, as well as the Senior Athletic Cup two years in a row.
As quarterback during his senior year, Schwab contributed impressive performances in the team's 14-0 win over Breck, 7-0 win over Harding, as well as wrapping the year with a 7-0 win over rival Blake. Schwab was noted in the Now and Then for his impressive accuracy in passing.
On the hockey rink, Schwab was a regular starter as a left-winger for a number of years and in his senior season scored multiple goals in games against St. Thomas (2 goals, 2 assists), De La Salle (2 goals, 2 assists), ending the season as the highest scorer with 10 goals and six assists.
As captain of the baseball team, Schwab was impressive on the field and a recognized leader of the team. He had particularly good games against St. Thomas, with four hits on the way to a 10-7 win, and against Blake in a 7-6 win where he scored two runs. Joe Schwab ended the season with 11 runs and 16 hits and maintained a batting percentage of .552, the highest for the team.
Schwab would go on to play hockey at the University of Minnesota, where he had a successful career. After his untimely death, his contemporaries recalled his sportsmanship, character, and ability and established the Joe Schwab Award in 1965, awarded for the first time in 1967.
Frank Brown, Jr. was a member of SPA's football and hockey teams, captain of the baseball team, and was awarded the Senior Athletic Cup. In addition, Frank's younger brother Bob '41 was an equally accomplished athlete and the two played together on varsity teams for the last two years of Frank's time at SPA.
In football, Frank was a left tackle and helped the Academy to a shutout over Waconia 24-0 in 1937, and a closely battled win over De La Salle. Frank was also at times the kicker on the team and the Now and Then noted his kicking abilities.
A center fielder in baseball, Brown helped the Academy team to one of its best records in years following the 1938 season. The team would claim wins against De La Salle (6-3), Concordia Academy (14-8), and Shattuck (5-4), while Brown was one of the top hitters on the team for the season.
Always an athlete, Frank was an accomplished member of SPA's Rifle Team, an equestrian, and played adult club hockey and baseball with the Osceola Braves.
Tom Doar '39 was an accomplished baseball player and member of the football and intramural basketball teams while attending SPA. Tom, along with his brother John, attended SPA from New Richmond, WI.
Doar served as captain of the baseball team and propelled the team to memorable seasons in 1937 and 1939. In football, his senior season was one for the record books, with the team going undefeated. Doar would go on to attend the University of Colorado and the University of Wisconsin Law School, serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II between 1943 and 1946, join his family's law practice, and eventually become a well-known fixture in the Twin Cities community.
Jep Knox '40 was a multi-sport athlete, captaining the football team and intramural basketball team, while also playing baseball. Additionally, Knox was named to the "All-Time Academy Football Team" and received the Junior Athletic Cup twice and the Harvard Cup for his athletic and academic ability.
Jep was known as a star football player at SPA, as he helped his team to an undefeated senior season with big wins over De La Salle (30-0), Blake (12-6 and 7-0) and Patrick Henry (33-0). In the final game of the season against Blake, Knox shone by scoring the only points of the game with the lone touchdown in the fourth quarter.
On the baseball team, Knox, along with captain John Doar '40, would go on to lead the team to a 5-3 season and complete one of the most successful seasons in athletics history at SPA. Following graduation, Jep attended Carleton College where he interrupted his studies and football career to serve in the Armed Forces in World War II. He went on to finish his studies at Carleton, eventually becoming the football coach at the school before finishing his coaching career down the road at Macalester College.
John Doar '40 was one of the best football and baseball players during his time at SPA. Hailing from New Richmond, Wisconsin, Doar served as captain of the intramural basketball team for two years, captain of the baseball team, sports editor for the Now and Then, and Head of Class for two years.
Doar’s athletic prowess, along with his brother Tom '39, helped the SPA baseball team to memorable seasons in 1937 and 1939 and a memorable sweep of Blake during his final season in the spring of 1940. In football, John also excelled and was best known for making a key interception in the team's 1939 7-0 victory over Blake. The football team would go undefeated during the 1939 season.
Bob Brown was President of the Student Council and recognized as a talented athlete, playing on the football team, serving as a co-captain of the All-City hockey team, and as a member of the baseball team.
On the ice is where Brown truly excelled. A co-captain his last two seasons and left-winger, Brown was a top goal scorer on the team and helped lift Academy hockey to wins over Shattuck (7-2), Central High School (8-2), Johnson High School (2-1), and Blake (5-0) amongst others. The team was considered the best that the school had seen over the prior 21 years and went undefeated for a second-straight season. Brown was named to the Dispatch-Pioneer Press All-City Team and was recognized for scoring over 10 points and having 17 assists over the season.
In baseball, Bob Brown was an adept second baseman and regular hitter for the team. Brown had memorable games his senior season, hitting two home-runs in the team's 13-7 win over Blake and he was considered one of the top hitters on the team over the course of his four seasons on the "A Team”. Brown would go on to play hockey at the University of Minnesota and baseball for the Osceola Braves.
Bill Bierman '42 was a star athlete and student at SPA. In addition to being on both of the football and hockey teams, Bierman also served as President of Student Council, and was awarded the Williams Cup, Margolis Prize, Aurelian Society Cup, Harvard Cup, and received a scholarship to attend Yale.
Son of Bernie Bierman, the highly successful coach of the University of Minnesota Football team, Bill was faced with high expectations, but consistently delivered in support of his team. While helping lead the football team for the 1941 season, the team would continue its dominance extending their unbeaten streak to 37 games over three straight seasons. Bierman would be named by the St. Paul Dispatch to the first-team All Academy Team. Bierman was especially noted in the team's 43-0 win over Harding. The Now and Then noted, "Bierman was far and away the best back on the field, as he was seldom stopped for less than five yards, and twice broke away for touchdowns." Bierman was also noted for his memorable interception against St. Cloud, resulting in a 60-yard touchdown.
On the hockey team, Bierman and the rest of the team put together an excellent 1941-42 season, extending their streak of unbeaten games to 28. That season, Bierman played forward and scored a number of goals in wins over Humboldt and Blake.
As the 1942 school year concluded, Bierman was recognized along with a number of his fellow seniors for his contributions to the successful athletics programs at SPA in the early 1940's.
Dick Stryker '42 was a renowned football player, and a talented member of the hockey and baseball teams at SPA. On the football field, Stryker was known for his impressive defensive skills and was named by the St. Paul Dispatch to the second-team All-Academy Team for the 1941 season. The team would go on to end their season undefeated for the third year in a row accounting for 37 straight games without a loss. Stryker was also known for his defensive skills in a 45-0 rout over Waconia and a 12-6 win over Shattuck.
On the hockey team, Stryker was the team's goalie and was known for his performances in the net when SPA defeated Blake (3-2) and Shattuck (4-1), extending the team's win streak to 28 games during the 1942 season. He would end that season with four shutouts for the year. In baseball, Stryker played centerfield and in his senior season helped the team to a number of memorable wins including a 9-1 win over De La Salle, a 6-4 win over St. Thomas, and a 18-7 win over Concordia. As the 1942 school year concluded, Stryker was recognized along with a number of his fellow seniors for his contributions to the successful athletics programs at SPA in the early 1940's.
Born deaf in St. Paul, Bob received his first schooling at the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, MO. His parents appreciated the specialized teaching he received, especially in lip-reading and vocalizing, but as a young boy, Bob wanted to be at home, and his parents enrolled him in St. Paul Academy’s Junior School. In high school at SPA, he was a star athlete in football, hockey, and baseball. He led his hockey team to three undefeated seasons and his jersey was retired upon his graduation. Both teammates and coaches recalled his lively and self-deprecating sense of humor.
Upon graduation, Bob attended the University of Minnesota, where he became an asset to the football and hockey teams as he could lip-read opponents’ signals. He played halfback and earned All-Conference honors while serving as a captain for the Golden Gopher football team for three years. In hockey, he garnered recognition as an All-American, but an eye injury would sideline him for the remainder of his career. Immediately after his injury, Bob and his then-fiancée Mary could only communicate when she traced words in capital letters on his forearm. Following this injury, they married, Bob entered his family business, and began coaching hockey at a variety of levels at SPA. Players on his SPA teams admired him and appreciated his exhortation to “have fun.” Following a long illness, Bob passed away in 2006 at 82.
Bill Frenzel '46, one of four brothers to attend St. Paul Academy, was known for being a talented multi-sport athlete. Bill served as a co-captain of the football team, member of the baseball team, captain of the intramural basketball team, and was named to the All-Academy Football Team. Frenzel was recognized by his peers in the SPAR yearbook as being one of the best linebackers in Academy history and one of the quickest players on the basketball court.
During Frenzel's senior year, the football team recorded a record of 4-2-1 and claimed impressive wins over Blake and Shattuck. Along with teammates Robert Bratnober '46 and John Driscoll '47, Frenzel scored an impressive 130 points in seven games during the season.
In basketball, Frenzel played center and was a consistent scorer. During the 1946 season, the team would go 11-3 in intramural play and claim wins against Washington High School and Blake School. In the final game of his basketball career against Blake he scored the final two baskets of the game to claim a 58-57 win for the team and scored 38 points, an Academy record.
A member of the football, hockey and baseball teams, Stan Shepard was known for his tenacity in athletics and intellectual standing, earning the Harvard Cup for his academic and athletics abilities.
In football, Shepard was a defensive right-end and was known for his ability to stop the opposing offense. In the 1946 game against Shattuck, Stan led the defensive charge en route to a 7-6 victory.
In hockey, Stan helped build on a successful hockey legacy at SPA and led the team to a 11-4-2 season in 1947. He ended that year as one of the top scorers on the team, accumulating 6 goals and 9 assists in his senior season.
On the baseball field, Shepard was regarded for his tenacity. He was a regular hitter in the line-up and concluded his senior season with the most runs scored on the team (10) and no errors in the field. The team would end its season 6-3 in heartbreaking fashion to Blake.
William “Bill” Langford '53 was a talented athlete and was noted by classmates and nominators Ed Stringer, Mac Seymour, and George May for his standout skills in football, basketball, and baseball. On the football field, Bill played quarterback for three years and received All-League honors his senior season. He served as captain of the basketball team for two seasons.
Bill was most known for his pitching talents on the baseball team. He helped the team to a league title his senior year, recording two no-hitters during his time at St. Paul Academy.
Throughout his time at SPA, Bill and fellow classmates noted the impact of coach Roy "Coach" Rasmussen, who taught the student-athletes that in order to win they had to believe in themselves. In 1953 St. Paul Academy would win the Heffelfinger Trophy, an award recognizing the top school in the Minnesota Independent School League for its success in athletics. Langford was awarded the Boys’ Athletic Bowl given in memory of Thomas Frenzel '49 to a member of the boys’ varsity teams for exceptional performance and leadership. Bill was also the recipient of the Senior Athletic Award in an impressive two years in a row. The Now and Then noted, “Especially gratifying was [Bill’s] no-hit, no-run victory over Cretin, the first time since 1950 that any Academy team has defeated the Raiders. Bill’s leadership, spirit, and general all-around athletic ability have been a great factor in the success of the Academy team’s this year.” Bill noted that he was especially proud of his Class of 1953 for their academic and athletics successes.
Pete Frenzel '54 was a four-year member of the varsity football team, two-year member of the varsity baseball team, captain of the basketball team, while also running track. In his senior year, Pete was awarded the Senior Athletics Trophy, wrote for the Now and Then as the sports editor, and was named an All-Conference Football honoree two years in a row and an All-Conference performer in Basketball.
In football, Frenzel had a phenomenal senior season helping lead the offense to a 7-0 win over Shattuck, a 27-0 win against Breck, and a 26-13 win over Cretin, earning himself All-Conference fullback honors at the conclusion of the season. During basketball season, Frenzel led the team in scoring, helping the team finish with notable wins over Breck, Prior Lake, and Wilson. Entering the spring season, Frenzel's athletic ability really dazzled: he won nearly every shot-put event at track and field meets and was a key member of multiple winning relays. Frenzel was named the SPA Athlete of the Year on June 7, 1954 and would conclude his SPA career with 11 letters in four different sports. He was praised by his peers for his relentless work ethic and determination to keep improving.
Pete would later come back to SPA to teach German and coach track and field.
David Goins '64 was a dominant athlete at St. Paul Academy where he competed on the football, wrestling, and track and field teams. David, along with his brother James, were the first African-American students to attend St. Paul Academy and immediately made their mark on the playing field and in the classroom. Described as one of the most dominant male athletes in the 1960s by Dan Starjash '68, Goins was also acknowledged by fellow classmates and other alums for his athleticism.
As a senior and co-captain of the football team, Goins led the team to a 4-1 record, scoring 24 points while guiding the team to a 21-0 win over Breck and 7-0 win over Blake. He would go on to earn All-Conference honors his junior and senior years.
Goins especially excelled in wrestling, going undefeated his junior and senior years and concluded his senior season at the MISL wrestling tournament, where he won the heavyweight category 3-0 against a rival from Concordia. He would be named All-Conference three years in a row, co-captain of the team, and was the MISL Heavyweight Champion his junior and senior seasons.
On the track, Goins was named All-Conference three years in a row and served as a co-captain his senior year. Goins graduated Cum Laude from St. Paul Academy and was awarded the Boys’ Athletic Bowl, given in memory of Thomas Frenzel '49 to a member of the boys’ varsity teams for exceptional performance and leadership. He attended Harvard University and eventually settled in San Diego, California where he managed a drug rehabilitation program, CalWorks. Goins passed away in 2017.
A talented three-sport athlete and the first St. Paul Academy and Summit School baseball player to have his jersey retired, Bill Larson '79 left his mark on the SPA history books.
A utility player on the football team, Bill played on the varsity team beginning his sophomore year, playing quarterback, linebacker, safety, and punter over the course of his career. He also served as captain of the team his senior year and collected three All-Conference awards for his performances. During his senior season, the team finished with an impressive 8-1 record for the second year in a row, and outscored their opponents during the season 211-30, finishing the year as conference co-champions.
In hockey, Bill joined the varsity team as a sophomore and was named a captain his senior season. As a center, Bill put together impressive performances earning him All-Conference honors and the Pioneer Press Athlete of the Week. His senior season, the team finished with an impressive 12-1 record and were named conference champions.
On the baseball diamond, Bill excelled as a shortstop and pitcher. After making the varsity team as a freshman, Bill earned the respect and trust of his teammates and was named captain for his remaining three years. He accumulated 768 strikeouts and an earned run average of 0.32. He was selected by the MSHSL Baseball Coaches Association as a member of the MetroEast All-Star Team, Pioneer Press Athlete of the Week, All-State and Player of the Year by the Star Tribune. Finally, he was recognized as the Downtown Lions Club Athlete of the Year in 1979. Bill was recognized for his accomplishments when his #12 jersey number was retired by St. Paul Academy and Summit School.
Bill was awarded the Frenzel Athletic Bowl given to the top athlete at the school and the Blake Shepard Award recognizing his athletics accomplishments. Bill attended Harvard, playing four years of hockey and baseball. He played one year of baseball in the Netherlands after college and played amateur baseball in the St. Paul area as well.
A legendary hockey player, Tom Vannelli '73 was noted for his athletic skill and later for his coaching talents. Nominated by classmates, current students, and athletics administrators, Tom is well-known for his extensive impact on SPA hockey programs as well as his skills as an athlete.
Tom was a three-sport athlete as a Spartan, serving as a key contributor on the baseball, hockey, and football teams. On the ice, Tom served as captain of the state’s top-ranked Spartan team and led the team in scoring for four straight years. In a single season, Tom accumulated 105 points in 25 games, 42 goals and 63 assists, setting the school record for most points, goals, and assists. He also helped lead the program to an impressive team record of 30-1. He earned All-State accolades multiple years throughout his time at SPA and was awarded the Boys’ Athletic Bowl. He is the only individual to have his number retired by the SPA hockey program.
Tom attended and played hockey for the University of Minnesota, where he was a four-year letter winner, team captain, and a two-time NCAA All-American for the Gophers. The team would win two NCAA hockey championships, including in 1976 when Tom was named the MVP of the NCAA Tournament. He would go on to play hockey professionally in Switzerland for several years.
Tom continued his hockey career as the Head Coach at St. Thomas Academy, coaching the team to five State Hockey Championships, totaling 450 wins with a 72% win percentage before retiring at the end of the 2019 season.