Thursday, December 12, 2013

Olympia's first collegiate soccer team and why I don't like PLU

This is some sort of sports team, from the Washington State Historical Society:


But, I really doubt it is a basketball team, as labelled by the WSHS. Mostly because it labelled as being taken in 1885 and James Naismith didn't create the game until six years later. I think its much more likely that what we have here is an actual soccer team.

For one thing, the year is pretty good for the spread of the game. The first nationwide soccer association launched in 1884, the first national cup in 1885 along with the first international friendly. While all three of these events occurred inside the New York/New Jersey area, soccer obviously existed while basketball did not.

You can find some trace evidence of soccer in Washington State in the same era. This 1891 newsclip from Yakima mentions soccer being played.

Now, here's some funny history about the Olympia Collegiate Institute. At different times, appently both the Methodists and Lutherans ran the old OCI, but merged them with Tacoma-area schools at different times. The Methodists absorbed OCI into the University of Puget Sound in the 1880s. The Lutherans restarted OCI (Later the Pacific Lutheran Seminary), absorbing it into Pacific Luthern University in the 1910s.

While Tacoma couldn't end up stealing the capital from Olympia, they did make away with two colleges.

3 comments:

Olympia History said...

Emmett, I'll take a look at what's inscribed on the photo when I go into Tacoma next week. It's likely I guessed at the date - I see Jesse Mills is in the picture and he graduated in 1892. But if Frank Camps shows his address as WT that means it's before 1889. An interesting thing about basketball in Oly is that it was first played by girls. So you may be right, even if the date is wrong.

Olympia History said...

OK - looked up soccer in genealogybank.com for Olympia newspapers & found nothing before 1892. I then looked up historical shapes for footballs and find that until 20th century they were basically spheroid. So I'm guessing it was a football team. A March 1892 article notes a football game between OCI and "the Olympia clubs"

Anonymous said...

Football pictures during those times always had guys in sweaters with pads and numbers. Also, I would think more men would be in the picture. Footballs were more like today's rugby ball but not like this soccer ball. So, fondly I declare this to be the first ever kickball team, invented here in Olympia.