Sam Carver: The father of Western athletics

Two people in this photo have buildings named after them at WWU

Sanford Ester “Sam” Carver was captain of the Bellingham State Normal School basketball team in 1911, here in the team photo, third from the left. A quick, wiry player and an early adopter of the overhand jump shot, Carver was considered one of the best basketball players in the state.

When Carver graduated in 1913, he became the school’s first full-time physical education teacher and athletic coach. Over his 42-year career at Western, Carver coached baseball, basketball, football, golf, tennis, and track and field. He was also a well-respected athletic director and department chair, known for high expectations, fairness, a quiet demeanor and an insistence on fair play.

In 1961, Western dedicated its newly renovated gymnasium to Carver, “the Father of Western Athletics.” In 2017, Carver’s grandchildren attended the rededication of the expanded and modernized building that still bears his name.

Today, Carver Academic Facility sits next to a building named for another person in the photo above: Longtime mathematics professor Elias Austin Bond, Carver’s basketball coach in 1911, is on the far right.

Photo courtesy of Campus History Collection, Special Collections, Western Libraries Heritage Resources, WWU