Sunday, August 7, 2016

Charles Henry Noll Grew Up in Cleveland

Copyright 2014 Sporting Chance Press 

Charles Henry Noll is the son of William Noll and Katherine Steigerwald Noll. His parents married in 1917. They were of German descent. Katherine was the oldest of 13 children. Her father Henry built a house on Cleveland’s east-side, and the newlywed Nolls lived there with the Steigerwald family through the Depression. On January 5, 1932, Katherine gave birth to her fourth child, Charles Henry Noll. Charles joined an 8-year-old sister, Rita, and a 12-year old brother, Robert. Katherine and William had another child, Beatrice, who died in infancy in 1928.

The Nolls’ original Cleveland neighborhood was residential with a few factories mixed in. It had a large black population at the time and still does today. Many of the area’s factories are shuttered now, but were operational when Noll was growing up, giving the area a gritty feel. The east side of the city is also known for its lake-effect snow, which often packs a winter punch the rest of the city does not experience. 

Older brother Robert played high school football long before Chuck could even hold a ball. As a kid, Chuck Noll played on a neighborhood football team that included Harold Owens, a nephew of Olympian Jesse Owens, and Burrell Shields, a future half back of the Baltimore Colts.

Growing up on Cleveland’s east side, Noll adopted a “color-blind” outlook at an early age. He retained the outlook as a coach. Noll sought the best players regardless of race. Longtime Pittsburgh sports reporter, writer, and broadcaster, Myron Cope, would say that when Noll looked at players like L.C. Greenwood, a 10th round draft choice, or Donnie Shell, a free agent, his thinking was simply:

Can this guy play? Can we make him a player?

Chuck’s father, William Noll, was a butcher and his mother Katherine worked in a florist shop. William suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which came on when he was still a relatively young man. The disease put additional financial burdens on the family, but everyone chipped in and made due. 

Noll’s sister Rita said:

We never had much, but we always thought we didn’t have to have those things. We had one another, and that is what really made us a good family.
The family surroundings may have been humble, but clearly Noll grew up confident and determined to make good.

For a concise examination of Coach Noll's football life, see

Chuck Noll: Ten Greatest Coaches of the NFL Volume 7 (Ten Greatest Coaches of the NFL Series) Kindle Edition

For a print examination of Chuck Noll's football life, please see:

Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Three or More Championships.  

About Sporting Chance Press:

Our goal at Sporting Chance Press is to provide entertaining books that can give readers a lift in sports and in life. We publish books that give readers insight into the hero within each of us. When sport is at its best, there is a payoff constantly taking shape – a payoff "at work." We are improving—whether it is building self esteem, improving health, developing strong social skills, or learning the habit of achievement. There is a discipline needed in preparing for sports contests and life contests. Getting our bodies and minds in shape for the competition is critical. If we can approach sports training and life with enthusiasm, the contest is pure joy. If we can approach sport and life with passion and not pressure, we can achieve and release that fearless hero within. 
Lawrence Norris