Throwback Thursday: Clyde Williams Field

A photo of State Gym taken from State Field (later Clyde Williams Field). Viewed from the southeast. Students are seen gathering to watch a game. There are even students sitting on the roof.

Ian Steenhoek

Clyde Williams Field

Clyde Williams Field, pictured in 1915, 1939 and 1948.

State Gym is pictured twice in 2017.

There are no traces of a football field ever existing in the area south of State Gym. New buildings, residence halls, additions to the gym, plants and a parking lot completely cover the former area that was Clyde Williams Field.

Clyde Williams Field opened in 1915 as State Field. It lied southwest of the State Gym building. Clyde Williams field was the first home of Cyclone football. It initially sat 5,000 people, but five expansions between 1925 and 1966 brought the seating capacity up to 35,000.

It remained in use until the opening of Jack Trice Stadium in 1975. Clyde Williams Field was later destroyed in 1978, and in its place stands part of an addition to State Gym that was finished in 2012, as well as residence halls, a parking lot and other buildings. The old gates of Clyde Williams Field are displayed within Jack Trice Stadium.

Clyde Williams Field was named after Clyde Williams, a former Hawkeye football player and Cyclone coach and athletic director was born March 24, 1879 on a farm in Shelby County, Iowa.

Williams grew up on the farm until age eight, when he moved to Shelby, Iowa. Williams is often seen as one of the most influential athletes of all time. According to the Des Moines register, “Williams is credited with the development of the overhand forward pass, the running punt and a widely used kickoff formation.” He also sat on the football rules committee.

Williams didn’t just play football, however, for which he earned 10 letters at the University of Iowa. Williams also ran track and played baseball at the University of Iowa, and even turned down the chance to play major league baseball to coach football.

Williams began his football career in high school, when his principal purchased a football rule book and worked with students interested in football. The principal acted as a referee, and Williams would play as quarterback.

Williams began attending the University of Iowa in 1898 and became starting quarterback after several upperclassmen quit the football team. Throughout his four years at the University of Iowa, Williams lead the football team through two undefeated seasons. Williams did not finish his 1901 season, as he was “outlawed” by the Big Nine (the predecessor of the Big Ten conference) due to playing baseball using a fake name, according to the Des Moines Register.

He remained at the University of Iowa for two years to assistant-coach as well as earn a degree in dentistry in 1903.

After two years of practicing dentistry, he drew the attention from Iowa State College. In 1906 he began assistant coaching football. He later became head football coach, head baseball coach, and later became the athletic director for Iowa State until 1919. Williams also developed Iowa State’s first basketball team in 1908.

Williams died March 20, 1938. State Field was renamed in his honor shortly after.