Oshkosh's "Social" Services
During the war, inter-collegiate sports had been deemed non-essential to the operation of the state teachers colleges, and many sports seasons were canceled. In the fall of 1945, sports returned along with the veterans, many of whom filled the teams. In football’s first season after the war, the team included six veterans, including the captain Bernard VanCamp. The Titans won only one game, spoiling Whitewater’s homecoming by defeating the Quakers 18-6. Missing from the team that year was Coach Robert Kolf, who had not yet returned from his service in the Navy. Even after he returned to coach the following season, the football team struggled. Kolf acknowledged that despite the efforts of the ex-servicemen, who were older than other players, his intricate T-formation took time to learn. The team’s lack of success contributed to a lack of fan support. The Oshkosh Advance, however, challenged the student body to appreciate the football team, who, the paper observed, was made up of mostly veterans who “don’t have to play football” but were “playing because of a liking for the game.” The paper asked for “a few inspiring cheers…to let them know what they are doing for the college has not gone unobserved.”
Perhaps one of the longest lasting impacts of the World War II veterans was the formation of the Veterans’ Club. The club was officially recognized in 1946 “to assist the college in fulfilling its mission, and to promote the general welfare of its student veterans.” All veterans who attended OSTC and its successor institutions were admitted into the club. The club’s first advisor was Dr. Caudle. Caudle tried to facilitate a better understanding between non-veterans and veterans. Soon after its arrival, the Vets’ Club sponsored various activities including radio programs on “The College Speaks” radio hour on WOSH, a display of their war trophies, and Armistice and Memorial Day assemblies. The club also made the college aware of challenges that student-veterans were experiencing. To this day, the Veterans’ Club continues to provide this support network for former soldiers on campus.