Home2019-2020Issue 9Football’s home & history built over the last century

Football’s home & history built over the last century

Jack Kuyper

Sports Editor

Willamette University’s McCulloch Stadium, located in Bush Park, has a long and rich history. The Willamette football team formed in 1894 and before they played in the McCulloch Stadium, they played in what we now refer to as the Quad, previously called Sweetland Field, according to the Willamette website. This field was named after physician and Head Coach George Sweetland in 1913 for coaching the Willamette football team between 1909 and 1913. This period of time is considered to be WU football’s “Golden Era,” both because the Bearcats defeated the University of Oregon in 1913, and because during Sweetland’s time as a coach, the Bearcats accrued 20 wins and only four losses.

In 1944, Salem’s city government unsuccessfully tried to purchase a majority of what is now called Bush Park in order to put a road through it for ease of transportation, but failed because the owner of Bush Park didn’t want a road right in the middle of the park. A few years later in 1947, Willamette successfully purchased 10 acres thanks to a $50,000 donation from Charles E. McCulloch, an attorney and president of Willamette’s Board of Trustees at the time. 

 The McCulloch football stadium was completed in 1950. The stadium went through major renovations in 1993. After the renovations, the field was named Ogdahl Field after Coach Ted Ogdahl. Ted Ogdahl attended WU between 1939 and 1942 and became an All-American halfback as a junior. For his last year in college, Ogdahl transferred to the University of Pacific. After his time at the University of Pacific, Ogdahl served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II in 1942 and earned the Purple Heart and Silver Star in 1945. After World War II, Ogdahl became a professional football player for two seasons with the San Diego Bombers. Between 1948 and 1952 he worked at Grant High School in Portland to teach football and helped their team achieve a 27-game win streak. Ogdahl then came to become the head football and track and field coach at WU and went 98-64-10 overall in football. His Willamette 1960 and 1968 teams were both undefeated. He also managed to coach WU’s first two national championships in track and field. Today, the football team and the rugby teams primarily use the Ted Ogdahl Field in the McCulloch Stadium for the games.

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