In an effort to add more detail to what I already know about early field hockey at the YMCA Training School (now known as Springfield College), I’ve been scouring that institution’s collection of digitized publications from the 1890s and 1900s. In doing so I think I may have pinned down the first organized and sanctioned college field hockey game ever played in the United States.
An intramural game took place on November 14, 1896, that featured a team from the Training School’s class of 1898 playing against a team drawn from both the class of ’97 and the class of ’99. According to the November, 1896 issue of the International Association Training School Notes: “After football came hockey, and for two weeks the fellows were studying up the rules and practicing hard. On Saturday, Nov. 14, the class of ’98 played against the combined strength of ’97 and ’99. It was a closely contested match; the score after playing two 30-minute halves was 1 to 1.”
I haven’t found any information that would suggest that field hockey was officially played at any other college in the United States before this game took place. The Woman’s College of Baltimore (now known as Goucher College) didn’t start playing until the fall of 1897, while 1896 seems to be the first year the sport was played at Springfield.
So, unless I learn something new, I’ll assume that this game was the first of its kind. Of course, it was only an intramural match — I still haven’t figured out when the first intercollegiate game took place.