In the 1910 Rabbit is an
intriguing essay by George Bryant that defends the practice of
intercollegiate athletics at Coe. Bryant argues that Coe teams
may not always win, but the teams are always creditable
contenders. Bryant notes that producing competitive teams in five
sports (football, basketball, tennis, baseball, and track) is a
difficult because the college only has about 60 men who are eligible,
according to Iowa Conference rules, to compete in intercollegiate
competition. Since the three spring sports (baseball, track, and
tennis) require about 40 team members, this means that "two out of
every three men in the upper classes must be candidates for the teams."
As for women, Bryant says
nothing. The reason is quite simple. On November 2, 190e,
the faculty resolved "that there be no inter collegiate athletics for
young women in the College." In some respects, this ban did not
significantly change the athletic landscape at Coe. In 1901 some
female students had organized an Athletic Club and organized a
basketball team that played several intercollegiate games for two
years. But it was always the case that it was primarily the men
who were involved in the intercollegiate competitive events.
It appears that the first
efforts to serve the athletic needs of female students occurred in the
fall of 1894 when Mrs. Kilbourne organized the first classes in
physical education. Whatever physical education courses offered
were optional, in part because of lack of facilities. But with
the construction of the new gymnasium in 1904, it became possible to
require all women to enroll in physical training courses.
Charlotte Poyneer (a 1900 Coe graduate who had studied gymnastics at
the Boston Normal School) was appointed Physical Director for
Women. Her program stressed Swedish gymnastics, aesthetic
dancing, and other forms of gymnasium work, but female students also
had opportunities for intramural sports in field
hockey, volley ball, tennis, basket ball, and "baseball."
Writing in the 1906 Rabbit,
Poyneer the college's curriculum for exercising "every part of the
body." To complement the floor work, "heave exercises are given
at the boom, peak, and vertical ladder, span bending at the barstalls,
vaulting over double boom, buck, horse, and jumping standards."
Each lesson in the gym also includes "military and fancy marching,
artistic work, and a run." Each spring an indoor meet will be held with
competitions in apparatus work, vaulting, high jump, broad jump, and
relay races. Poyneer also notes the large numbers of women
playing tennis and the creation of Pedestrian Clubs for walking.
With the completion of the
west wing of Voorhees Hall in 19 , the college also could offer
swimming lessons to all female students.