Early Resistance to Intercollegiate Field Hockey in the United States

In the first decade of the 20th century, a great deal of progress had been made in the realm of cultural attitudes towards women’s college athletics in the United States. But on the question of intercollegiate competition, a generational divide still existed.

Constance Applebee’s efforts to establish an American College Hockey Association and to encourage field hockey games between varsity teams from different schools met with resistance from some of the same women who had eagerly introduced the sport to their students. Continue reading “Early Resistance to Intercollegiate Field Hockey in the United States”


Field Hockey at the YMCA Training School

The YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts (now known as Springfield College), began its men’s field hockey program in the fall of 1896. All play was intramural, as there were no other schools with which to compete at the time. The annual championship series between the class teams became a hotly anticipated event, and by 1900 the school promoted the games heavily. “The physical department committee have been especially active in trying to make hockey a drawing card this year,” according to the November 13, 1900, issue of Nobody’s Business, the school newspaper. “Special invitations are being sent out to the neighboring schools and academies to be present at the championship games.” Continue reading “Field Hockey at the YMCA Training School”

Harvard’s Hemenway Gymnasium

With a research trip to Cambridge on the agenda for next week, I thought I’d look into the possibility of visiting the site of Constance Applebee’s first demonstration of field hockey in the United States. The consensus of all the accounts I have read is that the demonstration took place in a courtyard behind the Hemenway gymnasium at Harvard university in the summer of 1901.built 1940

A quick look at a current Harvard campus map revealed the good news: there is still a building called the Hemenway Gymnasium in the north yard of the Harvard campus. A quick click on the “details” tab of the map revealed the bad news: it was built in 1940. Continue reading “Harvard’s Hemenway Gymnasium”

Filling In a Minor Detail

In the absence of any living witnesses to Constance Applebee’s introduction of field hockey to the United States in 1901, I find myself compulsively searching for as many contemporary accounts as I can possibly find. Sometimes I’m looking for specific facts, but other times I’m just blindly fishing in the hope that I’ll come across something I didn’t know before.

Continue reading “Filling In a Minor Detail”

Bryn Mawr College, 1901-1902

When Constance Applebee introduced field hockey to Bryn Mawr College in 1901, the school did not yet have its own newspaper. The College News, with Applebee as its faculty editor, would not begin publishing until 1914. Two campus literary magazines, The Fortnightly Philistine and The Lantern, were in existence at that time, though, and they documented the arrival of the new sport. Continue reading “Bryn Mawr College, 1901-1902”


George Baird AffleckGeorge Baird Affleck played field hockey for the class of 1901 at the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) under James McCurdy. After his graduation, Affleck became director of physical training at the Iowa State Normal School (now known as Northern Iowa University). He stayed there through 1907, then returned to the Training School until his retirement in 1941. In Springfield he coached the men’s soccer team and was awarded the college’s Tarbell Medallion for outstanding service in 1944. Continue reading “Iowa”


Last week I had the good fortune to gain access to a dissertation titled “Field Hockey in American Education with Special Emphasis on the Colleges of the Northeastern United States,” written in 1960 by Bernard Dolat of the Columbia Teachers College. Reading it has made me feel good about what I have done so far — there were no major people or events of which I hadn’t already learned, but there were plenty of leads for new research to fill in the details of what I already know. One thing that struck me was the degree to which I, using computer searches and the internet, have identified almost all of the same major primary sources as Dolat, who I’m sure needed to put in a heck of a lot more legwork in his day to discover the identical materials.

Continue reading “Research”

American Field Hockey Literature in the Early 1900s

A number of publications regarding field hockey were released in the United States in the first few years of the 20th century. Before Constance Applebee’s arrival in the United States, a volume entitled The Games of Lawn Hockey, Tether Ball, Squash Ball, Golf-Croquet was released in 1900 as part of the American Sports Publishing Company’s Spalding’s Athletic Library series. It included an essay on the sport by Thomas J. Browne, a description of its play by Springfield College graduate Martin Foss, and the “official” American rules by James McCurdy. Continue reading “American Field Hockey Literature in the Early 1900s”

But Wait, There’s More…

As described in my most recent post, I now know that men were playing field hockey at Springfield College in the 1890s. But can I at least say with certainty that no women played the sport at a U.S. college before Constance Applebee’s arrival in 1901? Maybe not. Continue reading “But Wait, There’s More…”

What the Accepted Origin Story Leaves Out

It is impossible to overstate Constance Applebee’s importance with regards to the early history of college field hockey in the United States. Her boundless energy and evangelical zeal for the sport changed the landscape of female athletics in this country forever. But the idea that field hockey didn’t exist on college campuses in the United States before her arrival in 1901 turns out to be not entirely true. Continue reading “What the Accepted Origin Story Leaves Out”