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Sun, 12.09.1894

Cleveland Abbott, Athlete, and Teacher born

Cleveland Abbott

*Cleveland Abbott was born on this date in 1894. He was a Black football player, coach, and educator.

Cleveland Leigh "Cleve" Abbott was born in Yankton, South Dakota., one of seven children to Albert Abbott and Mollie Brown Abbott. Abbott attended and graduated from high school 1908-1912 in Watertown, South Dakota.

He was an outstanding, multi-sport athlete at Watertown High School (16 varsity sports letters) and SDSC (now SDSU) (14 varsity letters). He attended and then received his bachelor's degree from 1912 - 1916 from South Dakota State College in Brookings, South Dakota. In 1913 he was planning to be the football coach and dairy instructor at Tuskegee Institute upon 1916 SDSC graduation.

Abbott joined the US Army in 1917 at Camp Dodge and mustered out in 1919. After serving in Europe in World War I as an officer in the 366th Infantry Regiment.  Abbott taught at the Kansas Vocational School in Topeka, Kansas. During this time, he married Jessie Harriette Scott of Des Moines, Iowa; the couple had one daughter Jessie Ellen Abbott.

In 1923, Abbott accepted a position as Athletic Director, professor, and coach at Tuskegee. Abbott was the eighth head football coach for the Tuskegee University Golden Tigers located in Tuskegee, Alabama, and he held that position for 32 seasons, from 1923 until 1954.

He earned the respect of his peers through his team's performance and by participating in national committees to select "all-American" players at the collegiate level. He was the first Black member of the USA Track and Field Board in 1940 and the first Black member of the US Olympic Committee in 1946.

Abbott coached the first Black Olympic Gold Medal winner Alice Coachman, in 1948 and the second Black Olympic Gold Medal winner Mildred McDaniel, in 1956. Cleveland Abbott died on April 17, 1955, in Tuskegee, Alabama, and was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in September 2018.

To become a Coach

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I ply with all the cunning of my art this little thing, and with consummate care I fashion it-so that when I depart, Those who come after me shall... THE CRAFTSMAN by Marcus B. Christian.
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