Friday, August 11, 2017

Why ‘Juice’ is nickname of Al Wills, Linfield Athletics Hall of Famer

Story ("You may know Al Wills...") below was posted Aug. 11, 2017.

Al Wills died Aug. 12, 2017, in Honolulu.

John Prutsman told Wildcatville …

“After reading the earlier report about Juice Wills, I decided to write him a letter of appreciation. I typed out his name and address and before I could even start the letter, I got your report that he had died. I guess the message I would pass on to others is: If someone has had a meaningful part in your life, don’t wait to tell them. Let them know now; you may never get another chance.”

 … John lives in Portland. He played Linfield Wildcat football four seasons, 1953-1956


You may know Al Wills was the first athlete from Hawaii to attend Linfield. And, you may know Al is a member of the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame.

But, why is “Juice” his nickname?

Al (Linfield Class of 1952, graduated in 1956) lettered playing football for Linfield in the 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952 seasons.

Wildcatville asked Hall of Famer Ray Olson (football letters 1951, 1952 and 1953) why “Juice?”

Ray didn’t know. But, he asked Pat Smith (football letters 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952).

According to Pat, as told to Ray, “In 1949, when Al came to Linfield, first they called him Pine-apple. Then, he was called Pine-Apple Juice which eventually became “Juice,” which he liked.”

=Text about Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame "Class of 2004" members says Al was a member of Linfield Class of 1956
"Al Wills '56, the first student-athlete to attend Linfield from the state of Hawaii, said Linfield "will always be my family. The college provided me with a great foundation for success." Wills, an All-American offensive and defensive lineman, was known as a great downfield blocker and outstanding team leader."

=Al's bio for Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame, says Al graduated from Linfield in 1953.
"Following graduation from Linfield in 1953 ..."

See below. Al was a member of Class of 1953, but graduated in 1956.

Al (Linfield Class of 1953) lettered playing Linfield football in the 1949-1950-1951 and 1952 seasons. He served two years (1953 and 1954) in the U.S. Army. Then, returned to Linfield in 1954 and attended the college 1954-1955 and 1955-1956, earning his degree in 1956. So, he was a member of the Class of 1953, but graduated in 1956.

During the 1955 and 1956 football seasons he was Linfield football line coach.

He moved from Lifnield to eastern Oregon/Union County and taught and coached at Elgin, Ore., High School -- Elgin is near La Grande -- starting in the fall of 1956. He taught and coached football and track there. He became Elgin's head football coach in the 1957 seasons and also led the Elgin football program in 1958.

He resigned his job at Elgin High School summer of 1959 to go join his alma mater, St. Louis High School in Honolulu, as athletic director and teacher. In 1960 he continued those two roles and also became head football coach at St. Louis.


 Al Wills, Linfield athlete 1949-1952

Member Linfield Athletics Hall of fame, joined 2004

Four-year football letterwinner Al "Juice" Wills was respected by his teammates for his leadership, hard hits, unselfish play.

He was the first athlete to attend Linfield from the state of Hawaii, coming on the recommendation of Dustin "Dusty" Woods, an uncle who worked at Linfield and was familiar with the athletics program.

Wills started all four years as a tackle on both offense and defense, earning all-conference recognition three straight seasons. He was a lead blocker on the sweep for All-American and Linfield Hall of Fame inductee Ad Rutschman. Despite modest size, he earned a reputation as the best downfield blocker in the Northwest Conference. He was equally fierce on defense, and against Willamette his senior year, he collided with a blocker so hard that the force of the blow knocked down the ball carrier in his tracks.

Following graduation from Linfield in 1953, Wills spent two years with the U.S. Army in his hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii. He was a starter on the Army's football team that competed in the University of Hawaii's Armed Forces Conference.

He returned to Linfield to work two seasons on the staff of Wildcats coach Paul Durham. Wills tutored All-Americans Vic Fox and Howard Morris, and was a member of the coaching staff of the 1956 team that began Linfield's fabled consecutive winning seasons streak.

A health and physical education major at Linfield, Wills began a teaching and coaching career in Oregon at Elgin High School in the eastern part of the state/Union County near La Grande.

He later returned to the islands, where he served as teacher, coach and athletic director at St. Louis, Radford and Kalani high schools. In 1991, he was honored with the state award of merit from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Six years later, he was singled out for an outstanding service award by the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association, and received the Oahu Interscholastic League award of merit.

Sunday Jan. 30, 1966, Honolulu Star-Bulletin & Advertiser

Succeeds Ching as Grid Mentor

Wills Named Kalani Coach

By Monte Ito

Albert (Al) Wills, former St. Louis High School mentor, has been appointed head football coach at Kalani High School.

His appointment was announced yesterday by Francis Oliveria, Kalani principal.

Wills succeeds Wilfred Ching, Kalani coach the past four seasons, and will assume his duties at the start of the 1966-67 school term in September. Wills is presently acting vice principal at Radford High School.

“I am very happy to return to coaching,” Wills said yesterday after meeting with Oliveria.

Wills coached at St. Louis in 1960 and 1961 and was the school’s first lay athletic director from 1959 until June, 1962.

“We are very fortunate in having a teacher of Mr. Wills’ ability as our new coach,” Oliveria stated.

Oliveria, who became principal at Kalani last September, also praised Ching for the fine work he did with the Falcons the past four seasons. Ching is on the physical education staff of Kalani.

Oliveria said Wills will join Kalani’s faculty in the fall in addition to becoming football coach.

Shortly after his appointment, Wills announced that one of his assistants will be Dick Miyata, a former guard who was on Wills’ staff at St. Louis. Miyata is an experienced line coach and is expected to serve in this capacity.

Wills is a St. Louis High School graduate, class of ’49, and played guard under Neil Blaisdell, now mayor of Honolulu. He was on the Linfield (Ore.) College varsity for three years as a tackle. He majored in math at Linfield where he received his B.A. degree.

He taught at Elgin High School in eastern Oregon for three years and coached the football team for two seasons.

Wills is only the third football coach at Kalani since the Falcons entered Interscholastic League of Honolulu varsity completion. Ed Kawawaki preceded Ching.


--Head coach Kalani High School, Sunday Jan. 30, 1966, Honolulu Star-Bulletin & Advertiser (White shirt)

--Assistant coach, Linfield Football 1956, Linfield Oak Leaves 1957 (aloha shirt)

--Player for Linfield Football, various Linfield Oak Leaves yearbooks


Al Wills taught at Elgin High School appx. 1957-1959 and was Elgin’s head football coach appx. 1957 and 1958 seasons. “Coaches’ Profile” (below) from Sept. 23 1960 edition of Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

Below from Nov. 5, 1949, Oregon Statesman, Salem:


Nov 18 1952 Oregonian

Nov 19 1972 Sunday Honolulu Star-Bulletin & Advertiser