Lavere Spaulding, for whom Spaulding Field was named in 1976, was a native of Tioga and his family owned a farm there. He was one of five boys and he apparently lost his father at some point. Spaulding attended Girard College in Philadelphia between 1918 and 1927.
Girard was opened in 1848 thanks to an endowment from Stephen Girard, a French immigrant. At the time of Girard’s death in 1831, he was one of the wealthiest people in America. His vision was a school for poor, orphan boys. Girard still offers a solid education to underprivileged children.
While at Girard, Spaulding met James Smartwood and the two took an interest in the game of soccer. Girard did have a football program in the late 1800s, but the sport was banned due to so many injuries. In fact, it was for this reason that the rules of football were changed nationally to make the sport safer. However, Girard and many other Philadelphia area schools substituted the safer game of soccer.
After finishing at Girard, both Spaulding and Smartwood enrolled at Mansfield State Teachers College. According to Mansfield University records, the two organized the first soccer team at Mansfield, though the yearbooks of that era make no mention of the sport.
Smartwood served as the player-coach until he accepted a position at the Elmira YMCA in 1928. Spaulding then took over that position until his graduation in 1931. That may have helped to spark a wider local interest in the game. The first Tioga County High School soccer league was formed in 1931 and Mansfield High School won the league that season, posting a 13-1-0 record.
Off the field, Spaulding was an excellent student. He was trained in teacher education under “Group Four,” the program for future junior and senior high school teachers, which demanded excellence in each of the major fields of education. The 1931 issue of the yearbook, the Carontawan, noted that Group Four required a high school degree to enroll. Group four students were required to take 136 credit hours and most students had at least three specializations. Group four students did their “student teaching” at the training school on campus.
Spaulding was a brother of Phi Sigma Pi. At the time the organization was open to high-achieving males who were studying education. His junior yearbook also noted that Spaulding was a solid pool player and often played at the old YMCA Hut. The 1930 yearbook printed this of Spaulding: “Another distinguished gentleman from Tioga. Another of the Y’s big shots. And can he shoot pool? But pool isn’t his only strong point – ask his instructors.”
After graduation, Spaulding worked briefly for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and later taught at a CCC camp near Pine Creek. CCC is short for Civilian Conservation Corps. During the Great Depression, the CCC offered young men a chance to earn money while working on environmental projects. Many of today’s state parks and other outdoor recreation facilities started as CCC projects. Naturally, the camps were also a perfect place to provide education to men who had little or no formal schooling.
In 1940, as the Depression was winding down and the Second World War was heating up, Spaulding accepted a job at Ingersoll-Rand in Corning, N.Y. He was a customer service supervisor there. His family, including his wife, Doris and son, Mark lived in Painted Post, N.Y.
In addition to his work, he was a member of the Corning Masons and the Painted Post Presbyterian Church.
Spaulding passed away in February, 1966 and a donation to the heart association was made in his honor later that year.
In 1976, Spaulding field was dedicated, giving the women’s field hockey team their own field. The field hockey team had been in existence since 1915, but athletic contests were held at Smythe Park before dedicated fields were built in the 1970s.
In 2002, women’s soccer was added as an intercollegiate sport, and began sharing the field with the field hockey team. The Mansfield University soccer team had its most successful season in fall of 2005, when they posted a winning record of 8-7-1.