George Varnell: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Sportsman (Paperback)

George Varnell: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Sportsman By Jeff Burlingame Cover Image

George Varnell: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Sportsman (Paperback)

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"A marvelous job of unveiling the rich and intriguing tapestry of George Varnell's life."

- Daniel James Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat


"This deeply researched book relays the facts about Varnell while imparting the essence of the man, particularly his love of sports and sportsmen."

- Timothy P. Brown, author of How Football Became Football: 150 Years of the Game's Evolution


"George Varnell lived the kind of century-filling life that almost sounds like it's made up: star athlete, Olympian, coach, sports writer, editor, and Seattle journalism legend. Jeff Burlingame does an excellent job of putting that life into the historical context of the times. With detailed research and skilled writing, Burlingame has crafted a compelling book I couldn't put down."

- Charles R. Cross, New York Times bestselling author of Heavier Than Heaven


George Varnell's story once was stored in bits and pieces of bits and bytes-online mentions in newspaper articles, on sports websites, and in digitized archives of the many universities whose athletic teams he either cursorily or profoundly impacted. Now pulled together in George Varnell: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Sportsman, those mentions tell the more-than-noteworthy tale of a silently influential man. This meticulous biography illustrates Varnell's life as:


  • An athlete who competed in America's first Olympics in 1904;


  • A college football running back at the University of Chicago under coach Amos Alonzo "A.A." Stagg;


  • Gonzaga University's first basketball coach, who helped create the team (and also an early football coach at the school);


  • A longtime sports editor in both Spokane at The Daily Chronicle and at The Seattle Times, where he was a contemporary with Royal Brougham of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer;


  • A prominent college football referee who still holds the record for most Rose Bowl games officiated. In the days when referees were better known than star players, Varnell was indeed a star profiled in film, magazines, and newspapers;


  • The Seattle Times' beat reporter for the University of Washington's crew team, including the one that won gold in the 1936 Olympics. Varnell helped fundraise for that team so it could attend the Olympics, is regularly sourced in Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat, and also has a trophy in his name awarded at the Huskies' opening-day race each year.


The unheralded story of this athlete, groundbreaking Gonzaga University basketball coach, record-setting Rose Bowl referee, renowned sports writer, and dedicated family man will appeal to sports fans as well as those who find themselves intrigued by the humble human spirit.

Product Details ISBN: 9780578950242
ISBN-10: 0578950243
Publisher: Gray Bear Books
Publication Date: March 10th, 2023
Pages: 212
Language: English