Life of Charles Follis

By:Ray Jordan

Early Life of Charles Follis

Charles Follis was Born Feb. 3, 1879 in Cloverdale, VA, Follis' parents moved to the City of Wooster, OH when he was a young boy.

He would take an early interest in the game of football and played a primary role in organizing his Wooster High School's first varsity football team in 1899 while he was just a junior.(By Kimberley Nash, Senior Writer)

Serving, that season, as both his team's starting halfback and its captain, Follis led the team to a perfect season as they were neither beaten nor scored upon in their debut.

Follis was recognized at that time for his great power and speed; breaking through defensive lines with ease and shedding tacklers like loose clothing.

Standing at 6'0" feet and weighing 200 pounds, Follis was often bigger than his opponents, which gave him quite the advantage as a ball carrier—he simply ran over people.(By Kimberley Nash, Senior Writer)

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Mid life of Charles Follis

After graduation, in 1901, he entered Wooster College in 1901. He chose to play football for the Wooster Athletic Association (WAA), rather than his college squad—it is there that he would earn the nickname "The Black Cyclone."

Frank C. Schieffer was the manager of the Shelby A.A. team of Shelby, OH—they were the reigning champs of the Northern Ohio region. Hollis would catch the attention of Schieffer during a narrow 5-0 win by the Shelby Club—it was a game that featured Hollis not only as a devastating runner on offense but as a solid tackler on defense as well.(By Kimberley Nash, Senior Writer)

Like other players who integrated sport teams, Follis faced discrimination. Players on opposing teams targeted Follis with rough play that resulted in injuries. At a game in Toledo in 1905, fans taunted him with racial slurs until the Toledo team captain addressed the crowd and asked them to stop. In Shelby, Follis joined his teammates at a local tavern after a game; the owner denied him entry. At the Thanksgiving Day game of the 1906 season, Follis suffered a career-ending injury.(Edna and Art Rust, Jr)

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End of Charles Follis

Follis turned to baseball, a sport he played for many years in the spring and summer. Having played for the Wooster College and in the Ohio Trolley League, Follis was an experienced baseball player, but could only play in segregated baseball leagues. He played for the Cuban Giants, a black baseball team, as a catcher.(Edna and Art Rust, Jr

Many feel that had he been able, he could have been a great player in the major leagues.

Follis had garnered the respect of both football and baseball aficionados alike and his impact would not be understood for many years after his death from pneumonia at the young age of 31.

(By Kimberley Nash, Senior Writer)

Charles W. Follis

Works Cited

"Breaking Pro Football's Color Line: The Story of Charles W. Follis." Bleacher Report. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

"Follis, Charles W. (1879-1910) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed." Follis, Charles W. (1879-1910) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.