Gnup, Frank

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Gnup, Frank

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Frank Theodore Gnup, head coach of football at the University of British Columbia, was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, in 1917. He attended Manhattan College in New York, from which he graduated in 1941 with a B.Sc. in physical education. He played football while at Manhattan, and in 1939 got an all-American honourable mention. At the time, he also played professionally under an assumed name. From 1941 to 1945, he served in the armed forces as a coach. Although drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1945, Gnup joined the old Ontario Rugby Football Union's Hamilton Wildcats as a playing coach. When the Wildcats merged with the Hamilton Tigers in 1950, he then joined the Toronto Argonauts. In 1955, Gnup came to the University of British Columbia, where from 1955 to 1973, he coached the Thunderbirds. After 1973, Gnup remained at UBC in semi-retirement, teaching physical education and coaching baseball and golf. Gnup's character, appearance and philosophy made him an institution on campus. Gravelly-voiced and cigar smoking, he inspired a whole generation. His coaching record at UBC was 55 wins, 102 losses and 5 ties. He was well known for his generosity, acting as a father confessor, counsellor, and job finder for his students. For many years, the Annual Frank Gnup Pigskin Award Banquet was the highlight of the athletic season at UBC. On this occasion, Gnup handed out awards inspired by some of the worst plays of the team. He manufactured the gifts at his home workshop from discarded items. Gnup died in Vancouver on September 27, 1976.


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