A century of athletics on display
Cochrane Cunningham Athletic Archives find new permanent home in Schmidthorst Heritage Hall
Athletic success often happens because of great partnerships on and off the field. It’s only fitting that BGSU’s Cochrane
Cunningham Athletic Archives exist as a result of a decades-long partnership between Mickey Cochrane, known for his efforts in establishing the men’s soccer and lacrosse programs at BGSU, and Don Cunningham ’43, who spent 33 years in athletics administration at BGSU.
Cochrane and Cunningham worked together for the University during their careers. Even after they retired in 1985, their shared interest in sports history remained. They teamed up to share the University’s athletic memories and traditions with later generations of fans.
The tattered admission tickets, game-worn jerseys and vintage letter jackets that they collected during their time with the University and in their retirement have found a home in an interactive display in Schmidthorst Heritage Hall on the first floor of the Stroh Center. Television screens flank the exhibit, while glass-paned boxes and storytelling graphics preserve the storied history of the Falcon’s athletics programs and its many student-athletes.
Those stories frame the memorabilia better than any static museum could. Cochrane and Cunningham spent many hours interviewing, researching and documenting the items – on a purely volunteer basis – to preserve over a century of BGSU athletic history. The proud legacy of memories from playing fields and courts over the decades helps bring the story of BGSU to today’s students, alumni and fans.
In early 2020, their hard work was preserved and expanded with the unveiling of the Cochrane Cunningham Athletic Archives in the new Schmidthorst Heritage Hall. Fans can review the legacies of the BGSU Athletic Hall of Fame inductees or scroll through memories of games gone by.
“For a long time, we had wished that this might be achieved,” Cochrane said, discussing the work he and Cunningham, who died in 2000, invested in the project. “We thoroughly enjoyed compiling this history, and we knew the people who came in to touch and look at and ask questions and tell stories would have a wonderful experience.”
Cochrane has been a member of the Bowling Green community since 1964, serving as an associate professor in the former School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and as a coach at BGSU. He witnessed many historic events first-hand while coaching wrestling, baseball, volleyball, swimming and track. Like Cunningham, he is a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame, and the soccer field is named in his honor.
A native of Lima, Ohio, Cunningham began a three-decade career at his alma mater shortly after graduating in 1943. Twenty of those years were spent as the University’s first sports information director. He was considered by many as a “walking media guide” and resident historian when it came to Falcon Athletics.
The Cochrane Cunningham Athletic Archives have been housed in several locations on campus, starting as an informal collection of historical donated objects. Through the ongoing collaboration with University Libraries and Capital Planning, and as a direct result of the tremendous generosity of Al and Carol Schmidthorst and a loyal group of men’s lacrosse alumni, the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame and archives now have a permanent home.
“The Schmidthorst Heritage Hall project represents the culmination of years of collaboration and teamwork dedicated to sharing the rich history of BGSU athletics,” said Bob Moosbrugger, BGSU director of athletics, recreation and wellness. “Beginning with the work of Mickey Cochrane and Don Cunningham, this collection represents over 100 years of Falcon Athletics and will be a source of pride for our University community for years to come.
“This space will serve as a rally point for anyone looking to learn more about BGSU – whether a prospective student, student-athlete, community member, staff member, or alumni – and has the ability to tell our unique story of past, present, and future. Our Athletics Hall of Fame and archives now have a permanent home that is truly second to none.”
Contributions are always welcome to maintain the archives, and the community is invited to share in the success by donating at bgsu.edu/givecochrane.