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Athletics and Physical Education at Bryn Mawr College, 1885-1929

The Era of Constance M. K. Applebee: Participation and Competition

Varsity and All-England team

The Bryn Mawr College Varsity team with the All-England team, whom they played in 1919.

Applebee created as many opportunities as possible for students to participate in athletics. She introduced new sports such as lacrosse, fencing, and water polo, as well as instituting the system where each class had four or five field hockey, basketball, and water polo teams, all of which she coached. The majority of students seem to have approved heartily of Applebee's leadership because of her encouragement of competition.

We feel that too much cannot be said in thanks to Miss Constance Applebee for the improvement in all athletics. Not only was the better hockey due to her, but cricket, lacrosse and water polo were started under her supervision, and much interest was shown in them. But most of all perhaps the indoor meet showed Miss Applebee's influence. Class teams were formed and trained and the greatest enthusiasm and excitement and much class feeling was shown in the meet. There was a marked improvement in all records and three were broken. A cup was presented by the Athletic Association to the winner of the most points and the class winning the most points is to hang its banner over the alcove. 1905 won the meet. Theodora Bates, 1905, holds the cup for this year. 1907 won the swimming contest. It is hoped that this increase in interest and clean form in athletics will continue.1

Applebee also encouraged extramural competition: she organized regular field hockey matches between Bryn Mawr's Varsity and teams from country clubs in the Philadelphia area. The Varsity team occasionally played games against opponents from farther afield, including New York City, Baltimore, Goucher College, and even the All-England team in 1919. Applebee's consistent encouragement of extramural competition throughout her time as Director is notable since as the 1920s wore on, her colleagues in physical education increasingly disapproved of and resisted any sort of extramural competition for girls and women2.


1. C. D., '05. "The Athletic Association.The Lantern, no. 15, Spring 1906, pp. 80.
2. Gerber, Ellen W. “The Controlled Development of Collegiate Sport for Women, 1923-1936.” Journal of Sport History 2.1 (1972), pp. 1–28. 
Lee, Mabel. “The Case For and Against Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and the Situation as It Stands Today.” American Physical Education Review 29.January (1924), pp. 13–19. 
--. “The Case For and Against Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and the Situation Since 1923.” Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 2.May (1931), pp. 93–127. 
Trilling, Blanche M. “The Playtime of a Million Girls or an Olympic Victory - Which?” The Nation’s Schools 6.August (1929): 69–73. 
Wayman, Agnes. “Women’s Athletics: All Uses - No Abuses.” American Physical Education Review, vol. 24, November (1924): 517.