Athletic Trophies

The sporting events of the American Ophthalmological Society (AOS) annual meeting were an important facet of the meeting ingrained in the AOS fabric for nearly a century. When the society first met at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia in 1914, facilities would have been available there for both golf and tennis, but there is no official record of society participation in these activities prior to 1923. However, most guests traveled to and from Hot Springs by train, and likely some use of the recreational facilities at the Homestead by meeting guests occurred while they were there. The 1923 meeting at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs (the first meeting west of the Mississippi) was the first AOS meeting to permit recreation in the afternoon, rather than holding the grueling all day meeting sessions that had been the pattern previously (1). Golf and tennis events were well received and became a part of subsequent meetings.

The first trophy of record was awarded in 1934, when the meeting occurred at the Seignory Club in Lucerne-in-Quebec. The Canada Cup, a silver tankard, was donated by then President Walter Byers and his McGill colleague Frederick Tooke (later President in 1939) in honor of the meeting being held in Canada for the first time. The cup was a prize awarded for a golf outing held at the meeting. Other trophies in golf, tennis, bridge, lawn bowling, skeet shooting and fly fishing were added over the ensuing years as those activities became a part of the AOS annual meeting. No doubt the facilities at the Homestead invited the participation of the members in these activities, and their enthusiasm for these activities lead to their return to the Homestead year after year for the Annual Meeting. The 1983 Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society (TAOS) for the first time reported trophy winners from the previous year, which were announced at the meeting and made a part of the proceedings. Sixteen trophies were awarded at the 1988 meeting, and over time some sports were dropped and replaced by others. For example, running was introduced as a "new" sport in both 1989 and 2006 but never caught on. The AOS trophy collection now consists of eighteen different trophies which are listed subsequently, some in their third generation after being retired in the past to multiple winners.

Each trophy was awarded to the winner of the different sporting events at the AOS annual meeting. The winner of each trophy traditionally kept the trophy for one year. The trophies (for the events held that year) were presented to the recipients at the AOS banquet on the last evening of the annual meeting. The members were responsible for taking the trophy home, engraving their names on it, caring for it, and bringing it back to the annual meeting the next year. If two players won the trophy (for instance, tennis doubles), one had the trophy engraved and kept it for six months, then shipped it to his partner for the next six months. The partner would bring it back to the next annual meeting. The trophy recipient was responsible for getting the trophy back to the next meeting so it could be awarded to the winner of the event that year.

A history of the trophies would not be complete without mentioning the AOS Athletic Directors, who through the years have kept up with and maintained the trophies. The first Athletics Director, or more appropriately, the first Chairman of the Committee on Athletics, was George Weinstein, appointed in 1981 by Council Chair Tuck Asbury to assist AOS Secretary Tom Kearns with the sports activities for the following year. Prior to 1981, the Secretary of the AOS organized golf, tennis and other sporting activities that went on at the meeting. As initially conceived, the Committee on Athletics consisted of the Athletics Director and the winners of the previous year’s events. Annual attendance at the AOS meeting was more regular in the past than it is today, as many members returned each year to each annual meeting. Participation by the previous year’s winners waned because the meeting location began to change annually, not all sports were offered each year, and members did not attend every year. Eventually, the Athletics Director became "the Committee", responsible for organizing the athletic events and distributing the trophies each year.

George Weinstein in 1984 compiled a list of all trophies and known previous winners. Tom Wood in 1989 established the principle that the AOS annual meeting athletic events were open to both members and guests, but only AOS members and their spouses were eligible to win (and thereby take home) a trophy. Sloan Wilson in 1996 replaced two lost trophies, the Calkins Bowl for Mixed Doubles Runner-up in tennis and the EVL Brown trophy for Men’s Doubles Runner-up in tennis, with the Wilson Tray for Mixed Doubles runner up and the Wilson Brown tray for Men’s Doubles runner up. Names of previous winners were added to both of Sloan Wilson’s trays from George Weinstein’s records. In 1997, Sloan added a base for three trophies (EVL Brown Bowl, Mishima - Michels trophy and Perera Bowl) to allow additional names added for "the next thirty years".... 

[Download the Entire Document]