Frank “Tad” Gormley – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Loyola University/New Orleans
Known as the father of track & field in New Orleans, Frank “Tad” Gormey adopted the city as his home in 1907 when he came to town to serve as the athletics director at the Young Men’s Gymnastics Club (the predecessor to the New Orleans Athletic Club). City Park Stadium in New Orleans was re-named to honor Gormley in 1965, just 14 days after his death.
‘When I left Massachusetts,” he recalled more than a half century later, “it was snowing. There was green grass in Hammond and sunshine when I got to New Orleans…and it’s been green grass, sunshine and flowers for me ever since.”
For years, beginning in 1912, the “Gormley Games” took place after Sunday Mass each week. These informal track meets in City Park saw Gormley serving as coach, athletic trainer and organizer. City Park Stadium opened on Oct. 24, 1937, and the games moved to the new stadium in 1938 when Gormley was hired as its athletic director. He kept this position for almost 30 years.
Gormley had joined the Loyola athletics staff in 1927 as head boxing, basketball and track coach as well as trainer for the Loyola football team. He served as the Loyola track coach for 12 years. During his Loyola days, he inaugurated the Sunday Morning Handicaps which attracted as many as 4,000 fans.
In 1932 Gormley sent four of his Loyola athletes to the Olympics in Los Angeles – boxers Dennis and Eddie Flynn and track and field stars Rolland Romero and Emmett Toppino. He served as an assistant coach for the Olympic boxing team.
Gormley also served as the track coach at Tulane (1914-15), track coach at LSU (1916-27), head men’s basketball coach at LSU (1921-23), an official in the New Orleans Prep School Athletic League and a football and basketball referee. However, his times as the superintendent of City Park Stadium from 1938 until his death in 1965 were often his most fondly remembered.
“Money didn’t mean that much to him,” said Ellis Laborde, general manager of City Park from 1944 to 1978. “He spent his weekends at the stadium on his own time. He was dedicated to bringing out the best in every child. We used to call him the Knute Rockne of City Park. To know him was to idolize him.”
“Some people leave behind large amounts of money for the community to build schools or libraries,” recalled Louis deLassus, who trained under Gormley as a cross-country runner. “Tad built character in kids. That’s what he left behind.”
Born December 23, 1883 in Cambridge, Mass., Gormley trained the winning runners for the 1903 and 1906 Boston Marathons. He was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 1962, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (1968) and the Louisiana Athletic Trainers’ Hall of Fame in 1990. He died on December 5, 1965 at the age of 83.