By Sam Conner
Winslow Hall of Fame football coach Emil Nasser was one of four individuals and one family honored at the Flagstaff Sports Foundation 2013 Hall of Fame Banquet held Aug. 7 at the Little America ballroom. Others honored were Joe Riordan, a well-known Flagstaff golfer; Tyron Johnson, an athlete and coach; the late Sturgeon Cramer, another noted athlete and coach; and the Auza family, which consisted of eight talented Flagstaff athletes.
Nasser is a legendary coach, who not only coached football, but also track, basketball and baseball at Winslow High School. He served many years as an official of football and basketball, and was an Arizona Athletic Association commissioner. He supervised the swimming pool for many years and was deeply involved in the community of Winslow in many ways.
Art Griffith, who played for and coached with Nasser, spoke regarding the coach and shared several stories.
Former Governor Rose Mofford, Arizona’s first female governor and secretary of state, was a childhood friend of Nasser when she lived in Globe and he in nearby Miami. She wrote an interesting item for the banquet. It read as follows: “Imagine my delight to see two Gila County boys being inducted into the Flagstaff Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. Sturgeon Cromer, from Globe, and Emil Nasser, from Miami, could not be finer honorees. Sturgeon Cromer was our neighbor and my bookkeeping teacher at Globe High School, and his lessons have stood me in good stead. He went on to an outstanding career working with young people as a coach, teacher and school administrator. A finer man you could never find.
“While I did not grow up with Emil Nasser–after all, Globe and Miami were great rivals–his exploits in high school were well known in our Gila County towns. I will never forget the 1938 Thanksgiving Day football game when Emil led his fellow Vandals to a tie with our mighty Tigers (and came very close to beating us). He continued this same desire to win as a player at Arizona State College in Flagstaff and as a coach of the Winslow Bulldogs. Bulldog supremacy during the ‘60s is still legendary.
“Beyond the gridiron, Emil’s talents showed in basketball, refereeing, swimming and general leadership in the sports world. Add to that the fact that he was a war hero, serving as crew chief for those intrepid flyers ferrying troops and supplies over the Indo-China ‘Hump’ during World War II. His efforts significantly contributed to the defeat of the Japanese in that far Chinese theater.
“Countless young lives have been touched by these two men, me included. I applaud your selection of these two men. It is long overdue.”
The event was well attended by friends and supporters of all the inductees. The Hall of Fame includes 24 individual athletes, coaches, officials or administrators, and four teams inducted since 2008.
By Sam Conner