Player Reunion to Highlight Goodyear Wingfoots 100th Anniversary
Goodyear began its sponsorship of the Wingfoots in 1918 when it organized an industrial team to test rubber in the soles of athletic shoes worn by the players. The Wingfoots competed over the next three decades before joining the semi-professional National Industrial Basketball League (NIBL) for its inaugural season in 1947. The league reorganized into the National AAU Basketball League (NABL) in 1961 before dissolving in 1970. Goodyear fielded a Wingfoots team through the 1969-70 season, winning its first national AAU title in 1964.
"The purpose of the reunion is to bring together as many former players as possible to honor rich tradition and legacy of the Goodyear Wingfoots," said Ed McKee, a Wingfoots center who played in 1968 and 1969 and is spearheading the reunion effort.
McKee estimates that nearly 275 players from more than 110 colleges and universities proudly wore the Goodyear blue and gold at the Goodyear Gym in Akron. To date, McKee has established contact with more than 60 players in 27 states, including 15 in Ohio. Thus far, all identified alumni competed for Wingfoot teams between 1950 and 1970. Acknowledging that this first reunion also may be the last for many former teammates, McKee is eager to contact as many Wingfoots alumni as possible. A full program of reunion events is still being finalized.
"For more than 50 years, the Wingfoots basketball team embodied the spirit of excellence, leadership, teamwork and camaraderie," said McKee. "It helped Goodyear become a leader in promoting work readiness skills and identified future company leaders in management, production and all phases of its workforce."