Berry M. Whitaker
October 22, 1890 - January 10, 1984
Berry M. Whitaker joined UT in 1916 to organize one of the nation's first university intramural programs, which at that time was organized by the Athletics Department. He was handpicked by Athletic Director Theo Bellmont to direct the new program which promoted the idea of "athletics for everyone." Whitaker, the former football coach of Austin High School, led his team to two state championships, coaching future Longhorns Bibb Falk, Dave Pena, Grip Penn and Franklin "Punk" Stacy. While Whitaker served his country during World War II, football coach Bill Juneau took the intramural helm. Whitaker returned as Longhorn football coach. The "reluctant coach" soon returned to intramurals where he remained - ever-popular with students - until he retired in 1960. The "Grand old man of UT intramurals" organized the first Fite Nite (intramural contests) in Gregory Gym and led the effort to install lights at the original Whitaker Field, making UT the only school in the country with a lighted intramural field.
Photo courtesy of:
Prints and Photographs Collection
Center for American History
The University of Texas at Austin
The "old playing fields" originally occupied the site where Jester Center is located. The intramurals field ceased operations in the Fall of 1966 to make way for the construction of the coed residence hall. In the Spring of 1966, a tract of land at 51st Street and Guadalupe, where Whitaker Fields now stands, was made available to The University for development by an agreement with the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.
In early 1967, the new intramural fields opened. The 34-acre facility included eight football/soccer/softball fields and 40 tennis courts. In 1969, tennis courts and a parking lot were added. In the fall of 1980, a major renovation project was undertaken to convert the entire site to a fully useable, multipurpose space. New turf, lighting, irrigation, fencing, support buildings and equipment comprised the project.
The facility was named for Berry M. Whitaker, who in 1916 was recruited by The University to form one of the nation's first Men's Intramural Programs. His motto, "a sport for every man and a man in every sport," spoke to his desire to encourage as many students as possible to participate in recreational sports.