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The Early Years

The Early Years

Since its beginning, Newport News Apprentice School has fielded intercollegiate athletic teams. Mr. Homer L. Ferguson, then general manager of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, issued Executive Order No. 24 on July 1, 1919, establishing The Apprentice School. The School's tradition of fielding collegiate-level sports teams derives in large part from Mr. Ferguson, who wholeheartedly believed in the value of athletics. As Mr. Ferguson observed in Manufacturers Record in 1926, "Anyone who neglects the athletic side of training boys neglects about 50 percent of the whole proposition....they learn to play a clean, fair game....and any man who learns the same squarely is an asset to his employer. I think it is the most important single thing that a man can learn."

The 1920 football team holds the school record for single season victories with 11 and fewest points allowed with 25. 

Through the years, Builder teams have been a source of pride to both the apprentices and the company -- from the 1919 football team that went undefeated and the outstanding 1937 basketball team that won the state tournament and represented Virginia in the Amateur Athletic Union championship tournament held in Denver, Colorado, to exceptional football and tennis teams in the 1980s and recent national championship teams in women's and men's basketball. Athletics have been crucial in the training of the "head, heart, and hand" of apprentices.

Among the numerous coaches and athletes associated with The Apprentice School, probably none were more famous than Gordon E. "Pop" Lamkin, who coached many sports throughout his long career; Norm Snead, former NFL quarterback and coach of the Builders' football team for 10 seasons; Bob Lincoln, a football Little All-American at Randolph-Macon and retired orthopedic surgeon; Elroy Kersey, former apprentice craft instructor and track and field coach; Glenn Heath, former academic instructor and golf coach; and, Frank Dobson, football coach whose coaching career included the University of Richmond and the Washington Redskins.

 The 1937 men's basketball team won the State AAU Championship and qualified for the AAU Nationals in Denver, Colorado.

One of the most significant events in the history of Apprentice School athletics occurred in 1986. In June of that year the School received official notification from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that its Administrative Committee had ruled that NCAA member institutions may count contests with The Apprentice School for purposes of championships selection and NCAA statistics. This formal ruling was an affirmation of the long tradition of Apprentice School athletics and greatly facilitated the School's effort to solidify a small college level of competition with four-year institutions.

To read about the "Modern Era" of Apprentice School Athletics - click  here