For the Sport of It

Organized athletics at Sarah Lawrence College—then and now.

by Katharine Reece MFA '12

Sarah Lawrence College Organized Athletics

Organized athletics at Sarah Lawrence began immediately after the College opened its doors in the fall of 1928. According to the Sarah Lawrence College Bulletin, the Riding Club was the most active sporting endeavor on campus, while every Wednesday a group of women ventured into Manhattan to swim at the Barbizon Hotel for Women on the Upper East Side. Deck tennis was taught every afternoon on campus, along with an array of other sports, including table tennis, badminton, field hockey, and archery.

Fast-forward almost a century. Sarah Lawrence now boasts 15 varsity teams and more than 160 student-athletes. In 2012, the College entered the National Collegiate Athletic Association as a member of Division III. Administrators chose the division because it complements Sarah Lawrence’s pedagogy, allowing athletics to be part of a well-rounded education.

“Evolving a program around student interests—that’s what Sarah Lawrence physical education came to be,” Patty Smyth, one of two women who ran the College’s physical education office in the 1960s and ’70s, told the Bulletin. “That’s what physical education should be.”

Kristin Maile, the current director of athletics and physical education, says competitive athletic teams have “come in and out over the years” based on student interest, which is to say that Sarah Lawrence will not be starting a football team anytime soon.