Theodore “Ted” Nordyke was born in Kansas on July 11, 1904. The son of railroad carpenter Milton Nordyke and Sarah (Baker), he would discover his career path on the basketball team at Wichita High School.
In 1929, he married Margery Reed and worked as a public school teacher in Wichita before moving himself and his wife to Harris Avenue in Warwick. He found employment as a teacher at Lockwood High School, and then the war called. From 1942 until 1945, he served in the U.S. Navy.
For eight years he worked at Dartmouth College and, by 1956, was living on Pillsbury Lane in Tilton, New Hampshire, employed as director of athletics at the Tilton School for Boys, a private school of about 175 students. There, he also served as the school’s football coach and track coach. By April of that year, he was seeking a new adventure. That month, he wrote a letter to the Teachers’ Placement Bureau in Washington, D.C.
It read, “Gentlemen, Having filled out a registration card while attending the National Convention in Chicago recently, I am forwarding the enclosed material for your files. If there is anything more I can do to complete the registration, please advise. I am very much interested in changing positions this year. Having had 14 years of public school and 8 years of college work prior to my present 3-year tour in a private school, I am very anxious to get out of the private school field. I am a veteran of WWII. In addition to doing the usual physical education work, I would be interested in coaching football, basketball, track or tennis. I hope to be able to remain in the northeast quarter of the country and am willing to go anytime for interview. Sincerely Yours, Ted Nordyke.”
Nordyke included his résumé, which stated he had a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree in physical education. He stated that while he was hoping to find work in a college, he would accept work at a large high school.
The résumé included details of his years at each school where he had been employed. His track coaching summary for Warwick’s Lockwood High School noted:
“1936; no championships but placed more men in events than teams winning the championships
1937; Second place indoor championship meet, First place League Relay Championship Meet, First place League Track and Field Championship Meet, scoring in all 14 events.
1938; Second place Indoor Championship Meet, First place League Relay Meet, scoring in all 6 events. First place League Track and Field Meet by margin of 22 points with 8 teams in the meet, scoring in 13 of the 14 events. Second place Rhode Island State College Invitation Meet, scoring in 11 of the 14 events with 9 teams in the meet.
1939; First place Indoor Championship Meet, scoring in all 9 events with 9 teams in the meet, First place League Relay Meet, scoring in all 6 events. First place Rhode Island State College Invitation Meet by margin of 18 points with 12 teams in the meet, scoring in 11 of the 14 events. First place League Track and Field Meet by margin of 34 points with 9 teams in the meet, scoring 13 of the 14 events. At this point held 7 of the 14 records for the League Track and Field Championship Meet and had 4 places on the All State Track and Field Team, the most any other team having was 3 places for the year.
1940 and 1941; Gorton High School, part of the Warwick system, starting new teams in all sports, no championships.
1942; Second place Indoor Championship Meet, scoring in 6 of the 9 events. First place League Relay Championship, winning 4 events and placing second in the other 4 of an 8-event program. Second place Rhode Island State College Invitation Meet, scoring in 11 of the 14 events. After this meet, I entered military service. Since the team had been entered in the League Track and Field Meet prior to my entering the service, they went to the meet on their own where they placed second, scoring in 13 of the 14 events.”
Nordyke soon returned to Rhode Island, where he accepted a position with the physical education department at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School. He served in that capacity for over a decade.
Coach Nordyke passed away in Warwick on Dec. 8, 1982 at the age of 78. Kelly Sullivan is a Rhode Island columnist, lecturer and author.
Theodore “Ted” Nordyke