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Courtesy | Cal Abbo

Fol­lowing National Girls and Women in Sports Day, I decided to take a look back into Hillsdale’s history of female ath­letics. 

The Col­legian archives never dis­ap­point, and this time was no exception. 

In 1965, the news­paper pre­miered its first “women in sports” themed column. Ded­i­cated to cel­e­brating team wins, adver­tising intra­mural oppor­tu­nities, and announcing team tryouts, the “Sports in Shorts” column had a stu­pendous effect on ath­letic oppor­tu­nities for women. 

However, as with much of Col­legian history, the column had a few snafus. 

For starters, the column was orig­i­nally called “Fem­inine Dollies.” Not the most ringing endorsement for increased female ath­letic par­tic­i­pation, but it’s just a title that we can read past, right?

However, the content of the column had its low points too. 

Take Feb. 24, 1966. The column said, “Although this isn’t exactly clas­sified as girls’ sports, I would like to mention the bas­ketball team. When this goes to press, they will have one game left against Michigan Lutheran Feb. 26 and then on to the tour­na­ments.” 

The writer then pro­ceeded to ded­icate over half the column to the men’s bas­ketball team. 

In a similar spirit, on April 20, 1967, the entire column was an adver­tisement for cheer­leading team tryouts. I’m not saying cheer­leaders aren’t ath­letic. I’ve watched Netflix’s “Cheer,” so I’ve seen stunts for the ages. 

However, I just don’t know that a team whose exis­tence depended on cheering for a male team deserved all the attention in this column. The syn­chro­nized swimming team must have had an update that week.

Yes, you heard me right: Hillsdale used to have an all-female syn­chro­nized swimming team.

On March 17, 1967 “Sports in Shorts” read, “The syn­chro­nized swimmers are still meeting every Wednesday night at 7:30 in the field house under the direction of Miss Nelson and Jody Schmitt.” 

This team con­tinued to perform and compete well into the late 1970s, and Hillsdale even offered a credited course in the dis­ci­pline at one point. 

As I con­tinued to read “Sports in Shorts,” I found that some of the content issues were not the fault of the authors, but of Hillsdale’s facil­ities. 

On Oct. 6, 1996 the author adver­tised a vol­leyball game, writing, “Be sure to wear your red flannels— still no heat in the gym, you know. To boot, the floor is being revamped and the ladies are waiting patiently.” 

In that same article, the column reads, “The swimming pool won’t be open (unless it’s for ice skating) until the boilers are hooked up.” 

Somehow Hillsdale’s ath­letic facil­ities managed to have damaged air, land, and water all at once. I almost have to commend them. 

While the humorous ironies of the column jumped out at me, I must rec­ognize the awesome outlet it pro­vided for female Hillsdale ath­letes.

On Dec. 2, 1965, the column read, “With snowflakes falling on Hillsdale the women’s sports interests have moved into the Field House. Their program for the remainder of the semester includes bas­ketball, bad­minton, swimming and vol­leyball.” This demon­strates the high number of oppor­tu­nities for women at the time.

In addition, the column reported on the first bas­ketball game played by a women’s travel team.

On Feb.16, 1967 the author wrote, “After only prac­ticing for a week, the women’s bas­ketball team lost their first game against Con­cordia Lutheran Jr. College.” 

While the report of the loss is unfor­tunate, “Sports in Shorts” shows Hillsdale’s ded­i­cation to increasing female par­tic­i­pation in ath­letics at a time when many col­leges were not making this push. 

Hillsdale’s com­mitment to this cause dates far before this column’s founding. For instance, Hillsdale has offered intra­mural women’s bas­ketball since 1920, according to The Col­legian.

While the delivery was flawed at times, “Sports in Shorts” is a good showcase of Hillsdale’s con­tinued ded­i­cation to edu­cation and wellness for all of its stu­dents.