Reflections by Sammy Way: Women's field hockey, the sport of choice

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 8/3/19

This issue of Reflections focuses on the popular girls' intramural sport of field hockey. This activity was engaged in by a majority of the young women enrolled in the early public schools.

Research will focus on the sport and those responsible …

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Reflections by Sammy Way: Women's field hockey, the sport of choice

Posted

This issue of Reflections focuses on the popular girls' intramural sport of field hockey. This activity was engaged in by a majority of the young women enrolled in the early public schools.

Research will focus on the sport and those responsible for its origin. The author used Wikipedia Encyclopedia, the writings of Ruth Edens and photos secured from early editions of Sumter High School yearbooks to complete this report. Because of the length of the research, a degree of editing was required.

Wikipedia notes that "Women's hockey developed separately from men's hockey. Women do not seem to have played hockey widely before the modern era. Women's hockey was first played at British Universities and schools, and the first club, Molesey Ladies Hockey Club, was founded in 1887 Regarding the evolution of the hockey player equipment, the sticks have changed shape, with the head at the bottom, which used to be 15 centimeters long, becoming much stubbier Helmets became compulsory for goalkeepers, padding was thicker and of more shock-absorbing foam the ball also changed, from leather with a seam similar to a cricket ball to a seamless, usually dimpled hard plastic ball many players took to wearing padded gloves, particularly on their left hand finally mouthguards to protect the teeth are now compulsory for safety in many countries."

According to Edens, "in July 1925, the Board of Trustees decided that more attention should be given to physical education for girls in the high school. Priscilla Shaw was hired to direct the physical education activities. Shaw did an outstanding job of establishing a program for girls which included classes for each grade during the school hours and a program of intramural sports to be played in the afternoon. Though it would be some years before girls' athletics were allowed to become interscholastic, the girls' intramural teams were very competitive and popular at the Girls' High during these years. Hockey and basketball were especially popular with girls of eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th grades."

"Girls' athletics had been limited to intramural sports prior to the 1959-60 school year. Though their games didn't make the sports pages of the newspapers and there were no out-of-town trips, excitement ran high with girls at Edmunds as it had at the Girls' High School. Each of the four classes had teams (red team, blue team, etc.), which played each other. From these teams, each class picked and polished a 'varsity' team which played each other. Prior to the '50s, field hockey had been the favorite athletic activity. It was later replaced in popularity by basketball. In years when the demand was great, volleyball, badminton, softball and tennis were enjoyed. These intramural sports always created a great deal of excitement for the players and spectators. The rivalry between classes was always high by the time playoffs began."

"Though girls had participated in tennis and golf in a limited way, interscholastic sports were not engaged in officially until 1959 when Edmunds, with the sanction of the Board of Trustees, had its first basketball team, competing interscholastically. Participation in these sports grew during the '60s, and the teams did well in competition."