George Varnell’s story once was stored in bits and pieces of bits and bytes-online mentions in newspaper articles, on sports websites, and in digitized archives of the many universities whose athletic teams he either cursorily or profoundly impacted. Now pulled together in George Varnell: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Sportsman, those mentions tell the more-than-noteworthy tale of a silently influential man. This meticulous biography illustrates Varnell’s life as:

* An athlete who competed in America’s first Olympics in 1904;
* A college football running back at the University of Chicago under coach Amos Alonzo “A.A.” Stagg;
* Gonzaga University’s first basketball coach, who helped create the team (and also an early football coach at the school);
* A longtime sports editor in both Spokane at The Daily Chronicle and at The Seattle Times, where he was a contemporary of Royal Brougham of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer;
* A prominent college football referee who still holds the record for most Rose Bowl games officiated. In the days when referees were better known than star players, Varnell was indeed a star profiled in film, magazines, and newspapers;
* The Seattle Times’ beat reporter for the University of Washington’s crew team, including the one that won gold in the 1936 Olympics. Varnell helped fundraise for that team so it could attend the Olympics, is regularly sourced in Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, and also has a trophy in his name awarded at the Huskies’ opening-day race each year.

The unheralded story of this athlete, groundbreaking Gonzaga University basketball coach, record-setting Rose Bowl referee, renowned sports writer, and dedicated family man will appeal to sports fans as well as those who find themselves intrigued by the humble human spirit.

Praise for George Varnell: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Sportsman:
“Much of what I was able to learn about the 1936 University of Washington crew team came to me through the detailed and vibrant reportage of two outstanding sports writers-Royal Brougham and George Varnell. What many readers of The Boys in the Boat may not realize is that both men lived extraordinarily interesting lives. In this well-researched and compelling biography, Jeff Burlingame does a marvelous job of unveiling the rich and intriguing tapestry of George Varnell’s life.” – Daniel James Brown, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat

“George Varnell lived the kind of century-filling life that almost sounds like it’s made up: star athlete, Olympian, coach, sports writer, editor, and Seattle journalism legend. Jeff Burlingame does an excellent job of putting that life into the historical context of the times. With detailed research and skilled writing, Burlingame has crafted a compelling book I couldn’t put down.” – Charles R. Cross, New York Times bestselling author of Heavier Than Heaven

About the Author:
Winner of an NAACP Image Award for Best Literary Work and a two-time Image Award nominee, author Jeff Burlingame has written more than thirty books and is the recipient of a prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

He has presented at the Washington state capitol and has been featured on A&E, MTV, and elsewhere. He and his family reside in the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with Jeff online on his website at or on Facebook at

George Varnell: The Life and Times of a Pioneering Sportsman is available for purchase at Amazon in print and ebook formats.