"SIX: A FOOTBALL COACH'S JOURNEY TO A NATIONAL RECORD"
by Marc Rasmussen
Marc Rasmussen introduces the story of Willis "Bill" Welsh, a small town athlete and coach who became the face of six-man football. The sport, developed by Stephen Epler an assistant football coach in Beatrice, Nebraska, was introduced during the heart of the Great Depression. This version of the game of football became the means for the very rural schools to play a sport otherwise inaccessible due to the number of kids required to field a team and dollars needed to provide the necessary equipment. At the height of its popularity in the mid-1950's there were over 5,000 high schools participating in the game. The sport arrived during a troubling time in United States history and provided the residents of rural America a needed distraction from economic disaster, World War II and the Korean War.
Coach Welsh lived a storied life that positively impacted many young athletes and brought fame to a special group of kids from little Claremont, South Dakota. A star athlete raised in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Bill is recruited to play for the University of Illinois football team coached by the great Robert Zuppke. There he befriends a running back by the name of Harold "Red" Grange. They share a year together on a Fighting Illini team that wins the 1923 NCAA Football Championship. After suffering a serious eye injury in practice then a near fatal bout of appendicitis, he is forced to return home where he completes his education at Northern Normal College.
Graduating in 1930, Bill goes on to a very successful high school coaching career. Marrying his college sweetheart, returned to the Dakotas from Hollywood after years as the private nurse for a famous actress, they start a family. When his world crashes in on him after the death of his five year old son, Coach Welsh chooses to leave the coaching profession to open a game lodge in Northeastern South Dakota.
Missing the coaching profession, Bill seeks out an opportunity to coach the Claremont Honkers High School athletic program. It is here that a very talented group of kids mentored by Coach Welsh sets two national records, goes on to seven undefeated football seasons and in 1948 his team scores more points than any other six-man team in the sport's history.
"Six - A Football Coach's Journey to a National Record" is a heartwarming, feel-good story of a special man and all he accomplished in his amazing Hall of Fame career. It is a story that will be enjoyed by sports fans, those interested in rural life, stories about overcoming obstacles and history buffs in general.