Chapter 16

Lee Bjella 2015


Dr. Hubert (Hubie) Dunn (on right in photo) (11/1/21) is a 1943 graduate of Southern Illinois University. He earned four varsity letters in gymnastics and served as captain of the undefeated 1943 team. During his senior year, he won six individual championships in open competition held in St. Louis, MO, Chicago, IL, Bloomington, IN, and Minneapolis, MN. As a senior at Southern Illinois Normal University (now SIU), Hubie won the Senior Division in Long Horse at the 1943 AAU Championships held in St. Louis, MO. He was also second on flying rings, and 1st in tumbling. At the Central Association Championships in Chicago in 1943, Hubie was first in Long Horse, 3rd in Parallel Bars, and 3rd in Tumbling.


His picture was in the 1944 AAU Gymnastics Handbook as one of the outstanding all-around collegiate gymnasts in the United States in 1942-43. While at SIU, he was elected President of the "I" Club, and elected to the Sphinx Club, the highest nonscholastic honor a student could receive at that time.

Following his graduation from Southern, Dr. Dunn served three years in the United States Navy.
This included an extended tour of duty as Communications Officer and Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer aboard the destroyer, USS Shubrick, which participated in the invasions of Normandy (Omaha Beach) on June 6, 1944, and Southern France on August 15, 1944. (Hubie at right in 1943)

Hubie Dunn came to Washington State University in 1947 to teach P.E. and to attain his MS degree. (He wrote his thesis in 1951, called "The Status of Heavy Apparatus and Tumbling For Boys In The Junior and Senior High Schools of the State of Washington". It is in the library at the University.)


Dr. Dunn was surprised at the lack of knowledge in the field of modern gymnastics in Eastern Washington, and that there were no competitive teams in the colleges or high schools in the four state area. He started an exhibition team at WSC, which traveled to local high schools at the spring break of 1948, to promote gymnastics in Washington. He directed approximately 150 gymnastics clinics and exhibitions throughout the state of Washington and in the neighboring states of Montana, Oregon, and Idaho during the fifteen-year period from 1947 to 1962. The annual "Spring Exhibition Tour" of his gymnastics teams to present programs in the schools and at civic functions became widely acclaimed. The extent of these exhibitions is evidenced by the fact that in one year alone over 58,000 people saw his team in exhibition performances.

On April 30, 1949, the Washington State College Team met for a competitive meet at Montana State College in Bozeman, Montana. This was the first competitive college gymnastic meet held in Montana and the first competitive college meet for the state of Washington.

His teams competed successfully against USC, UCLA, California, Stanford, and San Jose. During his tenure at WSU, he and his teams made these five-day trips by car eleven times.

On March 26,1955, the first Pacific Northwest College Meet College Invitational Meet (PNW) was held at WSU in Pullman. Dunn was named "The Father of Intercollegiate Gymnastics in the Pacific North West". Dunn pioneered gymnastics in the Pacific Northwest and initiated the Washington State High School Championship Meet. He was President 1967-68 and Vice President 1965-1967 of the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches.
He was on the Executive Committee of USGF 1967-69 and was awarded the Outstanding Service Award NACGC 1968, and was Coach of the Year, Pacific Northwest, 1962. The teams he coached won three Pacific Northwest College Championships and three Pacific Northwest AAU Championships. His athletes garnered 48 individual honors in these meets and several went on to place in NCAA Championships. During his fifteen years at WSU, four of his teams experienced undefeated seasons.

  (photo: Hubie teaching at WSU)""

In 1962, Dr. Dunn resigned from WSU to accept a position as Associate Professor of Physical Education at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, and he achieved his Ph.D. and coached the men's team.

"In addition to teaching responsibilities, he was faced again with the challenge of developing a respectably competitive gymnastics team. Although the university had sponsored gymnastics during the three-year period prior to his arrival, the victories had been limited to two out of twenty-two contests. Over the next ten-year period, the gymnastics teams of Northern experienced only two losing seasons. During that time, he was elected to several gymnastics offices at the national level (including President of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches) and received numerous awards. In 1973, he was inducted into the Helms Gymnastics Hall of Fame." (From a summary provided by Dr. Dunn)

"After twenty-five years (1947-1972) as head gymnastics coach at the university level, Dr. Dunn asked to be relieved of his coaching duties so that he could devote full time to his teaching, administrative, research, and service responsibilities. He continued to teach courses in kinesiology; biomechanics, statistics, and methods of research, and for many years was Director of Graduate Studies in his department. He was one of the first recipients of the "Excellence in Teaching Award" presented annually to three faculty members from a total faculty of 1,400. In addition to his recognition as an outstanding teacher, he established a distinguished record of service to the university. Although retired since 1986, he currently is co-author of four extensive research articles on the biomechanical analysis of techniques used in performing gymnastics skills by elite gymnasts filmed in competition at the 1990 USA Championships (Denver, CO), the 1990 All Collegiate Japanese Championships (Amagasaki), and the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. These articles are to be published in the Journal of Sports Sciences (international) and the Journal of Applied Biomechanics, the first in May of 1995 and the others to follow." (From a summary provided by Dr. Dunn)

Dr. Dunn's contribution to men as well as women's gymnastics in Washington State needs to be noted. He started the first collegiate men's team in this state, as well as influencing his male gymnasts in such a way that many turned to coaching both men's and women's gymnastics. From his first team, Lyle Pugh went on to coach high school boys and girls, having one of the powerhouses in the state with the girl's teams.

From the WSU program came other coaches: Jim Sullivan, Thorne Tibbets, and Rex Davis. Brad Loan who coached many elite level female gymnasts and Jim Holt who coached the UW men's team, and high school girl's as well as judging. Jerry Penney and John Smith were also influenced as WSU gymnasts.

In 1981, he was awarded the Honor Coach Award of the CGA. Today Dr. Dunn lives in Illinois and is a gracious man with a true love of gymnastics. He was inducted into the USAG WA Hall of Fame in 2004. Hubie was inducted into USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame along with Eric Hughes in 1973, the Northern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame 1997 and the WSU Hall of Fame 2007.

(Read article from Northern Illinois University 2007 - article )

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