Today’s post celebrates a Happy Birthday post about another Michigan Man named George Genyk. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, George William Genyk was born in Detroit, Michigan on this day in 1938. He grew up in Detroit and attended Pershing High School. He was an excellent high school athlete who chose to continue his academics and his athletics at The University of Michigan.
(Note – Captain George Genyk is shown above with the 1959 Michigan Wolverine Football team. He is seated in the first row, in the center with the football. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The Unoversity of Michigan.)
George Genyk arrived at Michigan in 1956 to start working on his degree and play football for Coach Bennie Oosterbaan. Of course, freshman did not play during this time so his job was to learn how to be a good student and learn how Bennie Oosterbaan’s Single Wing Football System worked.
Genyk came back in 1957 looking to make Coach Oosterbaan’s varsity team and play some Big Ten football. Although George did not start any games in his sophomore season, he did play enough to earn a letter in 1957. Michigan finished with a final record of 5 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. They ended the conference season with a record of 3-3-1 which was only good enough for sixth place.
George Genyk returned for the 1958 season with high hopes. He was looking to earn some starts for Coach Oosterbaan and some more wins too! The good news was that Genyk started 9 games at left tackle and earned his second letter. George Genyk was also named the captain of the 1959 Michigan Football Team at the end of season banquet. However, the bad news was that the Wolverines posted a record of 2-6-1. It was the worst record in Oosterbaan’s eleven-year tenure at Michigan. Bennie knew it was time to move on and he resigned a few weeks after the end of the 1958 season.
Bump Elliott was Michigan’s new coach for the 1959 football season. He had been an assistant to Oosterbaan for two years so he knew about most of the returning players. Elliott stated that it would take five years to rebuild the Wolverines into a championship contender again. So, expectations were not that high in year one of the Elliott Era. The Wolverines improved from the 1958 season, but not by much. Michigan finished the season with a record of 4 wins and 5 losses.
George Genyk did his best to improve things in Ann Arbor. He started eight games at left guard for Coach Elliott’s first team. He set an “iron man” example for his teammates and led Michigan in minutes played in 1959.
Although George Genyk played on some struggling Michigan teams, he still had an excellent Wolverine career. He is also connected to some interesting “football firsts” at Michigan. Check these out!
· George Genyk, and some of his teammates, were the first Michigan players to wear facemasks in 1957.
· Genyk, and his teammates, were the first ones to wear numbers on the helmets in 1957.
· George Genyk played on Bump Elliott’s first football team in 1959
· Genyk was Bump Elliott’s first football captain in 1959.
So, George Genyk was a three-year letterman at Michigan. He gave everything he had to his coaches and his teammates. Today is a great day to celebrate the memory of this dedicated Michigan Man. George went on to become an outstanding high school football coach in Michigan for many, many years. Check out the excellent Wikipedia article linked below. Sadly, George Genyk left his family, friends and teammates on April 29, 2017 at the age of seventy-eight. May George Genyk rest in peace. Go Blue!
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