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Paul Sheeks



 A 1908 Mitchell High and 1913 University of South Dakota grad, Sheeks played two years in the NFL before gaining national fame in the 1920s and ’30s because of the success of the Firestone basketball teams he coached in Akron, Ohio.

He helped found the National Basketball League and was named coach of the year in the league in 1939 and ’40, when his Akron Firestone Non-Skids were league champs. The NBL was a forerunner to the NBA.

He was recreation director for Firestone from 1919 until 1955. At one time he oversaw 13 sports on the Firestone recreational program. Also, Firestone Public and Firestone Country Club golf courses opened in 1929 with Sheeks actively engaged in their managership. He also coached the Akron Red Peppers bantamweight football team to national recognition in 1935.

He played two years in the NFL (1921-22) with the Akron Pros as a blocking back. The 5-foot-8, 173-pounder scored one touchdown and kicked five field goals (including a 45-yard dropkick) and nine extra points in his NFL career.

At USD, he was the school's first four-sport letterman (football, basketball, baseball and track). In 1912, he was a near unanimous choice for all-Western halfback as the Coyotes defeated South Dakota State 73-7, North Dakota 44-0, Creighton 68-0, Nebraska Wesleyan 39-0 and Minnesota 10-0 and narrowly lost to Michigan 7-6.

At Mitchell, he was captain of the 1907 football team that he said was the undisputed state champion, and he also set state records in track. He went to Dakota Wesleyan for two years – competing in football, basketball and track – before transferring to USD.

He coached at Le Mars (Iowa) High School for two years before taking the coaching job at Wabash (Ind.) College. His Wabash football and basketball teams were highly successful. He was 14-2-1 in two years as football coach (1915-16) and 19-2 in his lone season as basketball coach.

He was football coach at Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., before becoming recreation director at Firestone in 1919.
































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