In the years following the 1st World War there was a large immigration of people from Europe to the United States.
While they left Europe to escape the hardships and find a better and easier way of life, they did not leave Europe forgetting all the ethnic customs of language, foods, and sports that had been a good part of their lives.
This was true of the founding fathers of the Schwaben Athletic Club. They emigrated from Germany, mostly from the southern part near the Black Forest in the state of Wurttenberg, where the people speak the Schwabisch dialect of German. They brought with them a love of soccer, or fussball as it is referred to in German. They joined a soccer club called the Chicago Sport Club which was founded in 1925 after breaking away from the German Club. One of the founders, Mr. Herman Trumpp, was also a founder of the Chicago Sport Club.
A couple of early names in Chicago soccer along with the Chicago Sport Club were Vienna F.C. and Chicago Wanderers. Competition was poor and clubs with more than enough players all eager to play. The Chicago Sport Club had three teams and 60 to 70 players all fighting for a chance on the field. Because of this, dissention began to develop and arguments started. So in 1926, thirteen young men broke away to form still another club, Fussball Club Schwaben, later to be known as the Schwaben Athletic Club. These thirteen young men were: Emil and Willy Bahnmaier, Fred Beltle, George Frank, John Karstensen, Willy Lichtenberger, Albert Munzenmay, Louis Singer, Emil Staib, Kurt Steinbach and Herman, Karl and Walter Trumpp. Just enough to make a soccer team with one substitute and one linesman.
Using a basement for a meeting place the young men had two meetings to decide on the colors for the new team, blue and white prevailed, and the new uniforms were blue and white stripe jerseys and white pants. The young men also picked their first "board" choosing Emil Bahnmaier as their President because he had the most soccer experience, Emil Staib as Vice President, Willy Bahnmaier, Treasurer, and Herman Trumpp, Manager and Pleasure Committee.
We started in the Third Division but under Emil's guidance the club had a fine start. Our first game being played against Sport Club Aurora with the Schwaben winning 3:1 - a good beginning. Within two years we had moved up to the Major Division of the International Soccer League as the National Soccer League was known then. The year of 1933 saw Schwaben as Major Division League Champions. A second team was also formed and in 1931 was promoted into the Second Division. A third team to play in the Third Division, which was started in 1929, also turned out to be a very successful team.
In 1928 soccer became very popular and in Chicago we had 7 German American soccer clubs and two handball clubs. Under the leadership of Mr. Reinhold Oeschler, a good friend of the Schwaben Athletic Club, the German "SchutzBund Deutscher Sportvereine" was organized. This Organization was something like today's "Sepp Herberger Committee", i.e., Sport, Radio and Press Ball Committee. From 1928 until 1934 an annual athletic competition was held, the first one in Soldiers' Field. Teams from all over Chicago and the Mid-West participated and again the Schwaben Athletic Club was very successful by winning most of the events. The "Most Points Cup" was won by our athletes, names like Bill Goetz, Otto Gremer, Frank Teschner, Herman Rapp, Albert Witt and the Munzenmay brothers, Eric and Albert, were among the leading force in our athletics section.
From 1929 to 1933 we also had a singing section under the leadership of Willy Baum, who in later years (1946-47) was President of the Schwaben Athletic Club, and the famous Ludwig Lohmiller was the director who remained a member until his passing in recent years.
In other sports like bowling, swimming and skiing, members of the club also participated in those events and after the meetings poker and pinochle were a main pastime.
In 1928 the name was changed from the Fussball Club Schwaben to Schwaben Athletic Club. In late 1929 the depression started and as a result many of our members became unemployed, some left town and others resigned from the club. With the help of members still working, the unlucky ones were supported with food, clothing and shelter. Some members like Herman Trumpp, foreman at Chicago Rivet and Machine Co., made it possible for more than 25 members to find employment and at the same time learn a trade. Then there was Max Perrot, the Clause brothers and many more that helped to provide jobs. These were very hard times but we made it!
In 1933, still deep in the depression, the newspaper headlines boasted that the "Schwaben Athletic Club beats the Swedes to lead 1st Division and are about to win their first Championship of the 1st Division." A first for any German team, and were we proud!
New life was brought into the club in 1934 due to better economy in the United States. Under the excellent management of Franz Kutsch, the First Team again won the International Soccer Football League Championship. The pride was still there!
The Schwaben Athletic Club saw their 10th Anniversary in 1936 and it was a real milestone. Again the First Team was champion in the Major Division and the third Schwaben team was also first in their division. Our track and field and handball teams were known to be by far the best of the clubs, winning trophies and medallions wherever they participated. The Weiss Memorial Trophy was ours at the G. A. Teams Sports Festival. By now we were well known for our social activities also, and our 10th Anniversary Celebration was a sell out at the Lincoln Turner Hall. The program was enriched by our athletic group, the Schwabischer Sangerbund and two bands for dancing pleasure. We ran out of food and drinks but everyone was happy and it ended well. The program book, our first, was 10 pages strong!
In 1937 the Schwabens won the Tribune Cup and by 1951 we had won it for good. What a thrill! We were again League Champions so this made four times in five years we had won the Major Division - 1933, 1934, 1936, and 1937. This showed the harmony and will to win and be the top team.
Herman Rapp proved to be a tireless manager in 1938 and this was the year that the Schwaben Athletic Club added a juvenile tem and began its youth program. Most of the boys were sons of members - managers were Hugo Ritt and Albert Kautt.
Another outstanding year for the Schwaben Athletic Club was 1941 when they became land owners for the first time with the purchase of a clubhouse at 3246 N. California in Chicago. It was a risky undertaking but we made it. We remodeled the basement flat with a bar and a kitchen and built a new garage that was used for dressing rooms. All the work was done voluntarily by the members. Also a soccer field was built across the street, then open prairie, with lots of sweat and hard work. Emmy and Gottleib Juengling were caretakers in the clubhouse when they came to the America.
The war years brought many changes to the Schwaben Athletic Club as it did to all the other soccer clubs, fifty four of our men left to serve in the United States military. This weakened the teams; but with the help of the old timers, we did ring home the prestigious Major Kelly Cup. We had to be satisfied with second place in the Major Division in 1941.
Our Reserve Team gave us another 1st in 1944 by remaining undefeated and winning the championship which was followed by many more.
After the end of the war more new players came to the United States and a new era started in the club. The year of peace, 1945, Bill Hemmings, then President of the Illinois Soccer Association, and George Fishwick, Secretary of the League, did not leave the Schwaben Athletic Club, as we do not participate in any politics. Both were born and raised in England.
Our 20th year, 1946 we celebrated with a large Anniversary Dance and Program. The teams showed improvement but no firsts and so it kept on for several years.
The Tribune Cup was now ours for good in 1951, a trophy the Schwabens were very proud of but due to bad luck the First Team was demoted to the First Division. It was a big disappointment. The Reserve Team came up with a 1st.
In the summer of 1952 the Schwaben Athletic Club and Hansa Sport Club hosted the Stuttgarter Kickers at the Hanson Stadium. A big welcome dinner with dance at the Lincoln Turner Hall was given in honor of the visitors and even the Mayor welcomed the guests. Other honoraries were Joe Triner, Illinois Soccer Commissioner and Charley Weber, Chicago Representative.
Under the manager ship of Gottlieb Juengling, the First Team bounced back to first place in 1952, again to play in the Major Division. What a relief for the proud Schwabens! The Reserve Team also was number 1 in their division.
From 1955 to 1960 it was almost impossible to beat our First Team, six Major Division Championships in succession. As far as we know this is something never accomplished by any other club. Also, the German Day Tournament prizes were largely won by our teams. In 1958 we also won the Dr. Peel Cup and were state champions.
Although these years were very successful for the Schwaben Athletic Club on the field, there was division in the membership and in 1957 a group of the Schwaben Athletic Club broke away and began a new soccer organization which was to become equally successful in their own right. They named their organization the Chicago Kickers.
The end of 1960 saw the Schwaben Athletic Club moving their home to 4265 North Elston Avenue, Chicago, with the purchase of a store front bar with a small hall in the rear, kitchen in the middle and an apartment on the second floor for the caretakers. This was to be the home of the Schwabens for what proved to be approximately 10 years. Many parties were thrown and good times were had in this hall and it was again remodeled by the voluntary help from the members.
The sixties also saw two Major Division League Championships, 1963 and 1967 and the United States Amateur Championship in 1964. In 1961 we also won the Indoor Title against the Maroons by a score of 2:0. The Schwabens also had five flights to Europe to play friendly games (1961, 63, 65, 67, and 1969) with only members participating and filling the charter planes used. The sixties also saw the first women board members coming into the Schwaben Athletic Club which had been strictly a men's organization until then.
In 1966 Schwaben Athletic Club member, Joseph Getzinger, had just finished building himself a boat and as a lark the "gang" decided to decorate it and enter it into Venetian Night. The boat sported colored lights and the fellows dressed in soccer uniforms and "leder Hosen," singing their hearts out with German drinking songs to the music of Mr. Willi Strahler. This won the Schwaben a First Prize in a completely different type of event than had ever been entered and made what was a whimsical prank into a serious entry!
The 40th Anniversary of the Schwabens was also a mark of 1966 and they celebrated with a large dance at St. Demetrius Hall in Chicago. Neckties with the Schwaben crest were given to all the men honored.
The 1970's brought about probably one of the biggest changes in the Schwaben Athletic Club. In April of 1970 the membership voted unanimously to purchase 8 acres of land in Vernon Township, later to be incorporated into the city of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. The purchase of this land was due largely to the foresight of Ed Braun and goes almost entirely to his credit. This was probably as risky a venture for the Schwaben Athletic Club as the purchase of the first clubhouse. Funds were not all that plentiful, shares would have to be sold and the land was merely a piece of farmland which would need leveling and planting for the fields. It offered no meeting place so other than renting space in other halls the Schwabens would know no physical home for several years to come. It began a problem of keeping membership together, raising funds and hard work to build soccer fields. But again, working together and help from Mr. Edgar Anstett with matching funds raised and land moving equipment loaned, the first phase of the "Schwaben Center became a reality.
In 1972 the Schwaben Athletic Club had their "Grand Opening Tournament" with sixteen teams participating from the Mid-Western area. Mr. Frank Teschner, then President of the Schwaben A.C., acted as general contractor and we finished the field house with two shower rooms, bathrooms, and a concession area in the middle. This was to be the first of the annual tournaments given by the Schwaben A.C.
The problem of keeping the membership together was solved by a monthly "Newsletter" which was started in March of 1972 and had articles of all the games and member news that would have otherwise been talked about at the clubhouse dinners on Sunday. The Newsletter became such a part of the Schwaben A.C. that it is still going strong and is awaited for by the membership that has since retired and cannot be with us.
The purchase of the land in Buffalo Grove also saw another change in the Schwaben A.C. from a German nationality and second generation German-American club to a largely American born membership. The purchase of the land also meant a period of letting our neighbors know who we were so our membership became very active in getting soccer programs started in the Park Districts of the surrounding villages, mainly Buffalo Grove and Mount Prospect. Mr. Ed Braun also attended board meetings at School District #214 and was instrumental in getting a soccer program started in their high schools.
The purchase of land also started the necessity of attending meetings at Buffalo Grove and fighting for building permits, sewers, and all sorts of new problems of which the membership had never before been engaged in, or aware of what hassles they could become.
In 1972 the Schwaben A.C. joined forces with the Schwaben Verein, a social club, and sold them one half of the original 8 acres and together they purchased an additional 10 acres across the street which has a brick home on it to be used for the caretaker.
The road to building a home was to take many years before it became possible, again the selling of bonds to the membership. Most outsiders believe it was because of lack of funds that the Schwabens were unable to build right away, not entirely so, it was more because we were unable obtain the necessary permits, mainly sewer hookup.
The Grand Opening Tournament was also a start of women's soccer in the Schwaben A.C. As a special game, our women, mostly wives of players at that time, played a friendly game against the women of the Green White Soccer Club. One of the women of the Schwaben team got a ball in an unusual place and was obviously in pain, Mr. Richard Giebner, whistling the game, later made the statement that was a call he really didn't know how to make, it had never happened with the boys that chest balls caused injury.
As a result of this game the "gals" got into the sport too and we are now fielding girls' and women's teams.
The 50th Anniversary of the Schwaben A.C. was realized in 1976 and they celebrated in a grandiose style with a dinner dance at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Hall, honoring seven of the remaining founding members, Emil and Willy Bahnmaier, Louis Singer, Emil Staib, and Herman, Karl and Walter Trumpp.
In 1982 the Schwaben A.C. was to finally realize a physical home. After a lot of bond selling, the shell of the new Schwaben Center was up and the workmen of the Schwaben A.C. along with a few from the Schwaben Verein began to finish the inside of the structure. The pride of ownership came when the work was finished and the final inspections were made and comments of it being the finest piece of workmanship they had seen in a long time were made. Our occupancy permit arrived and was presented to the Schwaben A.C. and Schwaben Verein at a combined Christmas party in December of 1982.
November 1986 saw the Schwabens celebrating their 60th Anniversary with a dinner dance in their own home, the Schwaben Center. Only three founding members remained, Emil Bahnmaier, Herman and Karl Trump, with only Emil and Herman able to attend.
All these years of fun, hard work and the ever changing atmosphere of the club brings us through the 1980's with a larger membership and new friends. It also brings us the challenge of making our new friends know and cherish our heritage as much as the old timers, and love the club and the game of soccer. To all we say "Welcome, come let us build the new era together!"
Edited by Arlene Lichtenberger, with the help of Emil Bahnmaier and Herman Trumpp