The history of Marshfield High School athletics
By Kris Leonhardt
In the early days of Marshfield education, there was little in the way of high school sports. What began as a small school on Marshfield’s Central Avenue in 1886 turned to more elaborate facilities called Washington School, and by 1898 it turned out some 44 diplomas.
With an expanding city, Washington School soon grew overcrowded and in 1898 city officials decided to build a new high school. In 1900, the school opened on the corner of what is now the intersection of Fifth Street and Oak Avenue with 120 students and just four teachers. Eight years later, the school was given the name McKinley High School; there, Marshfield athletics was born.
In the early days of the local education system, nearly all of school activities were hours spent in the classroom. In order for youth to burn some energy, they would often “play hooky” to step outside in the open air and get a taste of the local swimming hole in the summer or the skating pond in the winter.
Students were allowed 12 play days during the school year, where free time often resulted in a game of “bat and ball.”
Development of organized sports was gradual, but by 1929 McKinley High School had established competitive boys football, basketball, and track teams, as well as several girls and mixed club sports.
At this time little existed in the way of athletic facilities, but for raised ground around a football playing field and a gymnasium.
Next week: The creation of the hockey league
Special thanks to the MHS Athletic Department for providing the material for this series. For more information on the school district’s current athletic facility project, visit www.marshfieldschools.org. To donate, contact the Marshfield Area Community Foundation at 715-384-9029.