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”
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.
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”
Almost every retelling of Constance Applebee’s story that I have found includes Mount Holyoke with Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Radcliffe and Wellesley as part of her original circuit when introducing field hockey to American women’s colleges in 1901. But I thought it was odd that I hadn’t been able to find any contemporary accounts of her visit there while the other schools had proved relatively easy to confirm. Among the only references I’d found regarding hockey at Holyoke in that era was a less-than-promising nugget from the November 1904 issue of The Mount Holyoke, which read: “Field hockey seems to have died out here; in many other schools it is played regularly.” Continue reading “Constance Applebee at Mount Holyoke”
Very soon after beginning my research I came across several versions of the same basic story regarding field hockey’s arrival in the United States. The sport was quite popular among men and women in England during the late 19th Century, the story goes, but it wasn’t played at all in the United States until an English woman named Constance Applebee arrived in 1901. Applebee attended the summer session in physical training at Harvard that year, and staged a field hockey demonstration for her fellow students in a courtyard outside the Hemenway Gymnasium. That fall she was invited to six of the Seven Sisters colleges in the northeastern United States to teach field hockey, at which time it took off as a women’s college sport in this country. Continue reading “Fact-Checking a 113-Year-Old Story”