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Gulick, Luther Halsey (04 December 1865–13 August 1918), physical educator and sports administrator, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Luther Halsey Gulick and Louisa Lewis, missionaries. His father’s supervisory work for Presbyterian missions took Gulick as a child to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Japan as well as to Hawaii. In each place he stored up experiences that compensated for uneven schooling. His higher education, too, was irregular. From 1880 to 1885 he studied in a college preparatory program at Oberlin College, interrupted for a year by his parents’ furlough; in 1886 he briefly attended the Sargent Normal School of Physical Training in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before enrolling as a part-time student in New York University’s school of medicine. He paid his way at NYU by engaging in an unlikely array of activities: providing medical services to a YMCA branch, teaching in a Harlem school, serving as physical director of the YMCA in Jackson, Michigan, and organizing the physical education department at the new YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts....

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Naismith, James (06 November 1861–28 November 1939), inventor of basketball, was born in Almonte, Ontario, the son of John Naismith, a lumberman and carpenter, and Margaret Young. In 1870 both of Naismith’s parents died in a typhoid epidemic, leaving him to be raised by a religiously strict grandmother and then by a bachelor uncle. His schooling was interrupted by five years’ work in a logging camp, but in 1883 he entered McGill University, intending to study for the ministry. After receiving his A.B. in 1887, he studied theology for three years at a Presbyterian seminary affiliated with McGill; during his last year he directed undergraduate gymnastics classes. Having excelled athletically in school, he decided that rather than become a clergyman he could do good more effectively by combining sport and religion in the teaching and promotion of physical education. In 1890 he enrolled in a two-year course for Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) physical directors at a new training college in Springfield, Massachusetts....