An Evening with James Naismith

An Evening with James Naismith - thumbnail

Come to the library Wednesday April 24, from 7-8:30 and spend an evening with the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, as he is brought to life in a one-man play  by Dr. Bill Worley, instructor of history, from the Metropolitan Community Colleges of Kansas City Blue River campus.

Dr. James Naismith was born near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada during the American Civil War. After completing a ministerial graduate program at McGill University in Montreal, he became one of the earliest enrollees at the YMCA International Institute in Springfield, MA in 1890. The following year he devised a new indoor game that another student dubbed “basketball.” After completing a medical degree in 1898, he became the chaplain & physical education instructor at the University of Kansas. There he organized the first male basketball teams, and the rest is history. There are myths that he was the only losing coach in KU history, but as he will explain, he really wasn’t a coach, and they really didn’t keep track. One of his players in the early years was Forrest Allen, later known as “Phog,” whom he acknowledged as the “father of basketball coaching” even though Naismith still didn’t really believe a coach was necessary in a game simply meant to be “played.”

Dr. Bill Worley will bring Dr. Naismith to life with stories about all aspects of his life and experiences [Naismith later completed his ministerial path by becoming an ordained Presbyterian minister on top of his other qualifications]. Worley has been portraying Naismith for the last half dozen years with the Kansas Humanities Council and in other venues.

Whether you’re a sports fan, someone who’s interested in history, or Kansas history, or simply want to know more about a fascinating man whose influence is still being felt today, we encourage you to come to the library on April 24 from 7-8:30 in Marvin Auditorium 101BC and learn more about the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith.

For more information, contact Nate at 580-4545 or

I'm the Red Carpet Librarian and work to bring lifelong support services to the Topeka and Shawnee County area through outreach and programming. I also am a sports enthusiast, work closely with the library's sports collection, and provide programming to engage the community's sports fans.