2006 Distinguished Service Award
Wilbur “Goby” Gobrecht ’52
From player to coach to historian, Wilbur “Goby” Gobrecht ’52 has done it all in Dickinson athletics.
A sterling athlete, Gobrecht was an All-Conference halfback, two-time McAndrews Award winner, D-Club president and a member of the basketball and track and field teams. He went on to play basketball for his Marine Corps battalion during the Korean War era.
After he left the service, Gobrecht coached high-school football and basketball. He came back to Dickinson in 1960 as an assistant in men’s basketball, track and field and football and as associate professor of physical education. He settled in as head football and lacrosse coach five years later.
Gobrecht was Dickinson’s football coach from 1965-1979 before focusing solely on lacrosse. Due to the sudden retirement of football’s head coach, Gobrecht agreed to resume his post for the 1984 season, notching a then-school-record 52nd win.
As a coach, Gobrecht drew on his experiences with high-school athletes, since his own undergraduate experience was so unusual.
“When I played for Dickinson, my fellow team members were all veterans of World War II,” he says. “As a freshman, I was 17 years old, while they were in their late 20s. Since they were so much older than I was, there was no real sense of camaraderie. I felt I related much better to my team members when I was a coach.”
Shortly before taking on the head coaching job, Gobrecht and head coach Don Seibert became interested in Dickinson’s sports history. Gobrecht recalls, “We went to the alumni relations office to visit Roger Steck, the sports information director, who kept the college’s football records. We wanted to see when was the last time Dickinson had a really good football team. [Steck] had a small box full of index cards on his desk. He looked through the cards until he found what we were looking for, but it had nothing beyond the team’s year and record.
“That wasn’t good enough for us because we wanted to know more. So we decided to split up and do some research,” adds Gobrecht.
As a result, Gobrecht wrote History of Football at Dickinson College, 1885-1969. He later wrote an update covering 1970-1986, and he continued updating it until his retirement.
“[Seibert and I] identified almost every player since 1885,” he says. “We also got pictures of all but two teams. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve done. Once I got football out of the way, I figured I might as well do some others.” Gobrecht went on to complete the histories of Dickinson baseball, lacrosse, track and field and basketball.
“Goby” remains a familiar name on campus, and his books are used as a primary source of team history.
“As I think back on my life, it was all Dickinson, from 1948 to retirement and beyond,” Gobrecht says.
He lives in Mechanicsburg with wife Marcia.
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