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”



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. Continue reading “First?”


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”

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”

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”

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”