Editor’s note: The profile on Ed Ackley was researched and written by Pete Smith, a 1963 Norwich High School graduate. This is the fourth of in our series of articles on the inaugural Norwich Sports Hall of Fame class. The induction ceremony is Saturday, June 18 at Canasawacta Country Club. Please contact the Norwich High School athletics office for more details on the banquet.
Edward H. Ackley,
Class of 1953
On a late fall Sunday morning in 1952, readers of the Syracuse Herald-American opened their papers, peeled their way through to find the sports section, and read the headline proclaiming: “ACKLEY OF NORWICH RATED STANDOUT SCHOLASTIC GRIDDER.” The sub headline read, “Back Named Captain of All Star ‘11’” and the sub-sub headline read, “Set New Offense Pace for Team.”
The first paragraph of the article read: “Amazing Ed Ackley of Norwich was the outstanding high school football player of the 1952 season in Central, Northern and Southern New York. So the classy back is honored with the captaincy of the Herald-American all star eleven chosen annually.”
Ed Ackley was a terrific all-around athlete for Norwich High. He made the varsity football team as a freshman, but did not play enough to earn a letter on a team that wound up its season at 6-1.
The next three years saw Ed earn three varsity letters in each year. He was a good basketball player, leading the Tornado in scoring in his sophomore and junior years, and was a large factor in Norwich winning a Section 3 basketball title his senior year. As a track athlete, Ed competed in the high jump, 220, 440 and 880 in various meets. In those days, stringent NYS rules prohibited an athlete from competing in more than one race of 440 yards or more. Further, one could only compete in two individual events. Thus, head coach Kurt Beyer would usually have Ackley run an event and do the high jump. This strategy met with great success as Ack won many events in both dual meets and zone meets. After lettering in track as a sophomore and junior, Ed switched to baseball his senior year.
But, above all other sports, it was within the world of football that Ed Ackley is revered in Purple and White sports history.
As a sophomore, as the season evolved, Ed became a starter at offensive end and played some in the defensive backfield. The Tornado only went 2-5 that year, and Coach Beyer began to rethink his offensive strategy.