Leon H. Brigham
b 1901 - d 1987
Italian Athletic Club /
West Seattle Yellowjackets / Seattle Ironworkers
The Namesake on Seattle High School's Memorial Stadium
Scoreboard, Leon Brigham was a coach ahead of his time.
In the late 1930's a guy named Clark Shaughnessy
"revolutionized" football when Stanford introduced the
T-formation to college football at a game in Chicago.
Brigham had been running the formation since he took over at
Garfield in 1921. Garfield High won or tied for 8 city
championships from 1928-1938 under "Brig" who
coached for 22 years until 1943. By 1944, he
was the Seattle school system's first director of athletics.
He was ahead of his time in race relations as well with
"Wasp" kids, Japanese boys, Chinese, Black and Jewish kids.
He turned out athletes like black stars Sammy Bruce, Homer
Harris (Iowa - first black captain of a Big 10 football
team), and Brennan King, and Japanese boys like Shiro
Kashino, Mike Hirarahara, Sadao Baba, and Harry Yanigamachi.
His kids went on to become military generals, college
teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians and civic leaders.
He urged the building of new gyms at Seattle high school and
introduced night football.
As a coach with the Italian Athletic Club, his "Italians"
won the Seattle Community League championship all three
seasons he was head coach from 1935-1937. That led to
his take over of the West Seattle Yellowjackets in 1938. His Yellowjackets would win the 1938
championship and go undefeated for the 1941 crown.
After winning the championship Brigham threw his hat into
the ring as a possible successor to Jimmy Phelan at the
University of Washington. He would coach the
Seattle Ironworkers in 1943 as part of the War Industries
Brigham was a quarterback on the football team, a basketball
player and track athlete at the University of Iowa from
1918-1920 and an assistant coach and a legit candidate for
the head coaching job in 1920. Returning to Seattle,
Brigham took the head coaching job at Garfield in 1921 and
was a guide on Mt. Rainier from 1925 until 1929 when he was
badly injured in a fall that killed two other climbers.
His son, Leon Jr. a University of Washington athlete was
killed in a fall on Mt. Rainier in August of 1941.
Brigham was inducted into the Washington State Football
Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1979.
Leon H. Brigham Field