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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

PERCY PAGE

Inducted in 1955

Member Details

Date of Birth: May 14, 1887
Place of Birth: Rochester, New York
Date of Passing: March 2, 1973
Sport: Basketball
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1915-1940

Coached Edmonton Grads

Won 502 of total 520 games played 23 Provincial, 15 Western Canadian, 19 National Titles

18 Underwood Challenge Trophies

1924-1936

Competed in and won 27 Olympic Exhibition Games

Honoured Member PERCY PAGE
Inspire

Story

From 1915 to 1940, the Edmonton Grads reigned supreme over women's basketball teams worldwide. Though the team's roster changed over the course of their 25 years of play, one person remained constant--Percy Page. Page built this extraordinary team and coached it from the beginning to the end of its glorious tenure. Under Page's guidance, the Grads traveled more than 125,000 miles in search of and in defense of their numerous titles. Page was born in Rochester, New York, to Canadian parents, and raised in Bronte, Ontario. A teacher by profession, Page spent several years at schools in Ontario and New Brunswick before moving to Edmonton in 1914. He was hired to teach commercial courses at the MacDougall Commercial High School but was also given the responsibilities of directing the girls' physical education classes. An avid basketball player in his youth, Page decided to include this rapidly growing sport in the program. The girls quickly took to the game, and the result was the Edmonton Commercial Graduates, a team composed of past and present MacDougall students. The Grads dominated world women's basketball from 1915 until the club's closing in 1940. In their 522 games played, they had an astounding 502 victories, including winning streaks of 147 and 78 consecutive games. They won their first Canadian title in 1922, and their first Underwood Challenge Trophy, the prize for the International Series against an American team, in 1923, neither of which they would ever relinquish. In fact, upon the club's folding in 1940, the Grads were given permanent possession of the Underwood Challenge Trophy. Though women's basketball was not an official Olympic sport, the Grads traveled to Europe four times to play in exhibition games which were held in association with the Games. In 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936 they won each of the 27 games they played against teams from around the globe, establishing themselves as unofficial champions of the world. In 25 years, despite additional responsibilities as school principal, a family man, and a budding politician, Page missed only three games. His coaching philosophy emphasized the importance of physical conditioning and prohibited any performance-inhibiting activities such as smoking and drinking. As a result, his players often outlasted their exhausted opponents in particularly grueling matches. Page trained his girls to play as a unit and, above all, to take their sport seriously. "You must play basketball, think basketball and dream basketball," was his adage. James Naismith, basketball's inventor, was familiar with the Grads' sensational record and soon became one of their greatest fans. To him, they lived up to the ideals of athletic skill and sportsmanship which were inherent in his design of the game. Of their coach, Naismith stated: "You are indeed fortunate in having a man like Mr. Page as your coach, for I regard him as the greatest coach and the most superb sportsman it has ever been my good fortune to meet." Page's players also regarded him with profound admiration. Noel MacDonald, a member of the team in the late 1930s, declared that Page, aside form being an excellent coach, "exemplified the qualities of a gentleman and… earned and commanded our love and respect." He was fondly known as "Papa" to many of his players. Though their record was undiminished, the Grads were forced to disband in 1940 when the Royal Canadian Air Force moved into their arena. Page left the world of coaching in pursuit of a political career. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1940 to 1948 and again from 1952 to 1959. He then served as Lieutenant-Governor of the province from 1959 to 1966. For his tremendous contributions to the sport, Page received honoured places in the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.


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