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”

Constance Applebee at Mount Holyoke

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”


Fact-Checking a 113-Year-Old Story

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”