NILE KINNICK'S LEGACY
In the eyes of a teenager, Nile Kinnick was even more charismatic than your story suggests (Nile Kinnick, Aug. 31). In 1939 I attended a boys' camp in Wisconsin where Nile was one of the many counselors who were big-time college athletes. There was a special quality about Nile that set him apart. He had a gentleness, a genuine respect for even the most poorly coordinated kid in the camp. He also abstained from the locker room vulgarity and coarseness so often displayed by today's jocks. When choosing up sides for any sport, we all wanted to be on Nile's team.
At a time when recruiting and eligibility violations and drug abuse seem to be the norm in college athletics, I'm glad you reminded me that there really was a Nile Kinnick.
New Canaan, Conn.
I saw Nile Kinnick just once, when he was a very small 15-year-old high school sophomore from Adel, Iowa, playing in a district basketball tournament. Kinnick electrified the fans with his darting, water-bug moves and take-charge manner. Even then we knew he was special.
The Kinnick legend went far beyond his native Iowa. My friend Wendell Kinney of Bakersfield, Calif., named his son after Nile. Thanks for a touching story about a real sports star—and an exemplary human being.
Ron Fimrite points out that nowadays the Heisman is won primarily on football ability. Maybe it's time the writers picked a student-athlete hero we all can look up to—someone like Nile Kinnick.
Wappinger Falls, N.Y.
The Best and the Brightest (Aug. 31) hit home in our small town. On Oct. 10, at our 11th annual installation of new members in the Port Huron Sports Hall of Fame, we will induct the following:
David Staiger, 59, football letterman at the University of Wisconsin (1949 and '50), winner of the Big Ten medal for scholastic and academic achievement, recipient of a Rhodes scholarship, one of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's Whiz Kids during the Kennedy years and now an executive with the Ford Motor Co.
Ralph Burde Jr., 38. all Mid-American Conference tackle (1969) and Academic All-America ('70) at Central Michigan University, conference heavyweight wrestling champion ('70), Outstanding CMU Student-Athlete of the Year ('71) and now superintendent of schools in Kewaygo, Mich.
Robert Wedge, 40, winner of nine letters in three sports and a 3.6-GPA student at Port Huron High, letterman as a defensive back at Michigan (1966, '67, '68), Big Ten champion in the triple jump ('69), honor student in architecture and now an architect in Altoona, Pa.
Catherine Davis, 74, outstanding bowler for 40 years and treasurer of the local Women's Bowling Association for 26 years, chairperson of the state bowling convention in 1983, and an organizer of local cancer fund-raisers.
JERRY E. LYNCH
Port Huron ( Mich.) Sports Hall of Fame