Sports have been at Cottey almost since its inception, but the school really began taking an interest in student athletics in the early 1900s. Teams and tournaments were organized, and sports fields were added. The 1917-18 Cottey catalogue lauded its improved training grounds: "Out-Door Sports—are especially emphasized. The athletic grounds are attractive and beautiful. There are basket-ball, tennis courts, volley ball, and croquet grounds. A hockey field has recently been added."3

Since then, Cottey has expanded its sports programs to include both intramural and intercollegiate competition, and have participated in the National Junior Colleges Athletic Association (Division II) since the 1980s.

Intramural Competition

Intramural sports at Cottey were most often organized between societies. Between 1902 and 1950, tournaments were organized between the Magnoperians and the Emersons.2 In 1951, the Alphian and Delphian societies were added. ("Alphian" was changed to "Alphan" in 1961.) The first society tournament was the annual Thanksgiving Day Mag-Em basketball game.4 By the 1960s, the four societies were competing in field hockey, tennis, basketball, baseball, volleyball, and swimming.2 Interest in society competition has waned as Cottey participates more in intercollegiate events, but the societies still hold annual softball and capture-the-flag tournaments.

Games have also been organized between the senior and freshmen classes, and between students and faculty. Presently, Cottey holds an annual student-faculty volleyball tournament.

The Magnoperian basketball team 
				on the grassy b-ball court, 1907-08.
Magnoperian basketball team on the grassy b-ball court, 1907-08.18 L-R: Bonnie B., Della, Viva G., Kathrine Bohn, George Hodgins, Myrtle DeLevre.
The Emerson basketball team sitting on the steps of Rosemary 
				Hall, 1907-08.
Emerson basketball team sitting on the steps of Rosemary Hall, 1907-08.18 Stella Baldwin, Natilie Salls, Lena Edwards, Marg Williamson, Loreen Thornton, Lucile Arnold, Bennie Blackwell.
The Mags and Ems in the midst of a basketball game, 1908.
"Della free throw. A proud day for 'Mags' although they did not win."18 The Mags and Ems in the midst of a basketball game, 1908.

Athletic Association

Cottey's Athletic Association began in 1932.3 It is described in the 1935-36 catalogue as an organization that planned and carried out recreational activities throughout the year:

   The Cottey College Athletic Association gives to all students an opportunity to participate in various kinds of sports emphasizing the proper use of leisure time.
   A well-rounded program consisting of team sports and individual sports is offered. The team sports consist of hockey, volley ball, basket ball, baseball and soccer. Individual sports consist of swimming, tennis, archery, table tennis, horse shoe, shuffleboard, hiking and track. . . .
   During the year the Athletic Association is responsible for various social and play activities. The Old Time Fiddler's Party, the All-School picnic, the play day for high school girls, and intramural competitive sports are under the direction of the organization.

By the 1960s, the name had changed to the "Recreation Association" or "R.A. Board."2 Their activities at this time included field hockey, volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, table tennis, badminton, bowling, swimming, and gymnastics. The team and individual sporting events were organized by society.

Today the Athletic Association is represented by the Cottey Intramural Association (C.I.A.), which organizes sports and recreational competitions.

"C" Club

The "C" Club was Cottey's athletic honors society. Eligibility was based on a points system. In 1947, you had to accrue 450 points to receive your yellow "C",1 and by 1965 this was raised to 500 points.2 Students received points for playing both individual and team sports, in society games, junior-senior games, or intercollegiate competition. In 1965, a yellow star was awarded to girls who earned an additional 500 points. Members of the "C" Club worked with the Athletics Association (R.A. Board) to plan athletic activities throughout the year. (Each "C" Club member was automatically in the R.A. in the '60s.)

Recreation Association, 1965
The Recreation Association, 1965.2 Front: Chigee C., Claudia B., Kirsty W., Judy O. Back: Marcia T.e, Jan M., Sue K., Miss B., Nancy P., Mary S., Jan S., Tyann Y.
"C" Club, 1947
"C" Club, 1947.1
"C" Club, 1965
"C" Club, 1965.2 Ellen W., Claudia B., J.D. S., Marcia T., Dianne C., Nancy P., Kirsty W., Jan B., Judy M.


Basketball was played at Cottey College at least as far back as the 1890s, and after the formation of the Emerson and Magnoperian societies in 1902, Mag and Em basketball competitions became a tradition.4 The biggest game of the year came on Thanksgiving, when the two societies went head-to-head. By 1915, "The traditional Thanksgiving basketball game had become so popular that the gymnasium at the college could not accommodate the crowd. Some of the Board of Trustees arranged for the armory and a large audience watched the Magnoperians win."4 On other occasions in the early 1900s, the Mags and Ems played the Nevada High School basketball teams.

By the 1960s, the traditional intersociety basketball tournament was moved from Thanksgiving Day to Founder's Day.

Basketball is one of the few sports that has remained at Cottey throughout its history. It has continued to be played between societies and classes, against similar colleges, and as part of the NJCAA.

Cottey basketball, 1890s
A rare photo of Cottey girls playing basketball, 1890s.3
Cottey basketball team, 1915
The Cottey basketball team, 1915.8
Emerson basketball, 1926
Emerson basketball team, 1926.19 Ethelyn Linn, Kathryn Ellis, Virginia Dyer, Mary Maude Coffman, Ruth Buxton, Ethel Puckett, Angela Knight, Rita Gabriel, Thelma Sherrell.


Before Cottey College had its own pool, the administration made a deal to use the lake at Radio Springs Park. The 1917-18 catalogue states, "By special arrangement with the management, the college family are allowed private use of the springs for bathing and swimming two evenings of the week during the warm season."3

When Neale Hall's pool was finished in 1921, it quickly became the most popular place on campus.4 Interest in swimming soared, sparking classes and clubs. In the 1930s and '40s, the Swimming Club was one of the few athletic clubs at Cottey. Every year, the group would produce a "water carnival" where they would perform strokes and stunts.1 Cottey's synchronized swimming group was known as the Meremaids (or "Mere-Maids"). Membership was by invitation only, and a swimming test was required.2 They performed an annual water ballet in the spring. The theme in 1965 was "the four seasons."

Cottey installed a much larger pool in Hinkhouse Center in 1971, which indubitably renewed interest in the sport. There is still a swim team at the school today, which competes against teams from other junior colleges.

More Photos

  Basketball Swimming Field Hockey Gymnastics Other Sports  

"Hurrah For 'Mags,'" 1908.18 Supporters cheer during the basketball game.
Varsity basketball team, 1926.
Varsity basketball team, 1926.19 Ethelyn Linn, Guinevere Shaw, Chelsea Rohland, Helen McCutcheon, Mary Maude Coffman, Virginia Dyer, Ruth Attebury, Marcella Hoff, Jo Wharton.
Magnoperian basketball team, 1926.
Magnoperian basketball team, 1926.19 Helen McCutcheon, Chelsea Rohland, Ruth Atteberry, Jo Wharton, Guinivere Shaw, Opal Milligan, Gladys Krebs, Marcella Hoff, Irene Dill.
Emerson basketball team, 1927. Emerson basketball team, 1927.20 Katherine Jones, Eunice Tompkins, Ila Ramey, Virginia Dyer, Helen McCormick, Leone Wilsey, Ethel Puckett, Agatha Young. Magnoperian basketball team, 1927.
Magnoperian basketball team, 1927.20 Josephine Wharton, Fern Catron, Lois Simpson, Jewell Parks, Florence Stipp, Merle Brown, Mary Arleen McDonald, Wadean Little.
Basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1938
Cottey students play basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1938.9
Cottey's varsity basketball team, 1938
Cottey's varsity basketball team, 1938.9
Basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1938
Basketball in Neale, c. 1938.9
Basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1941
A basketball game in Neale Hall, c. 1940.7
Basketball in Neale Hall, c. 1959
"Caught in a tense moment" are Kay F., Nancy B., Victorine P., LaJune G., Donnajo S., and Jan B., c. 1959.11
Basketball in Neale Hall, 1965
Nancy Peterson prepares for the Founder's Day basketball game, 1965.2
WUS basketball game, c. 1966
WUS faculty-student basketball game, c. 1966.12
  WUS basketball game crowd, c. 1966
"Lose or Flunk" threaten faculty members at the faculty-student basketball game, c. 1966.12
Swimming in Neale Hall pool, c. 1940s
Swimming in Neale Hall pool, 1936.17
Neale Hall pool, c. 1939
Neale Hall pool, c. 1939.16
Radio Springs pool tower, c. 1941
Girls on the Radio Springs pool tower, c. 1940.7
Radio Springs pool, c. 1941
Cottey girls swimming at Radio Springs Park, c. 1940.7
Swim Club, 1947
Swimming Club in Neale's pool, 1947.1
Girls at Radio Springs pool, c. 1941
Montage of Cottey girls at Radio Springs pool, c. 1947.1
Meremaids, c. 1959
Meremaids form a water wheel, c. 1959.11
Neale Hall pool, 1959
The Meremaid officers pose near the pool room door, c. 1959.11
Meremaids, c. 1959
Meremaids pose for the opening number of their swim show, c. 1959.11
Meremaids, 1965
The Meremaids in Neale's pool, 1965.2
  Meremaids, 1966
The Meremaids perform, c. 1966.12
Field Hockey
Cottey's varsity hockey team, 1938
Cottey's varsity field hockey team, 1938.9
Varsity field hockey team, 1947
Varsity hockey team, 1947.1
Field hockey team, 1947
Hockey players relax, 1947.1
Cottey girls with hockey sticks, 1947
A pair of hockey buddies, 1947.1
Hockey hit, 1947
High sticking, 1947.1
Emerson field hockey team, 1947
The Emerson field hockey team, 1947.1
Hockey duo, 1949
Hockey players, 1949.6
Thanksgiving field hockey game, 1951
The annual Thanksgiving hockey tournament, 1951.13
Thanksgiving society hockey game, 1958
"The climax of the 1958 hockey season came on Thanksgiving Day when the Magnoperian Society won the championship from the Alphian Society," 1958.14
Balance beam practice, 1965
Jan S. practices a split on the balance beam, 1965.2
Gymnastics Club, 1965
Gymnastics club, 1965.2 Front: Miss Kehl, Carol S., Carol N., Kathy D., Jan S., Gretchen G.Tyann Y., Susan R., Marty N., Pat M. Back: Linda S., Becki B., Jo Anne W., Donna, Jan B., Kay G., Judy S., Sandy W., Karen B.
Floor routine practice, 1965
Donna M. practices her floor routine for the Circus show, 1965.2
  Gymnastics, 1966
Gymnastics team poses in the gym, 1966.21
Other Sports
Cottey's varsity volleyball team, 1938
Cottey's varsity volleyball team, 1938.9
Golf, c. 1941
Golfing, probably at Nevada Country Club, c. 1940.7
Cottey girls in the air, c. 1941
Cottey girls in the air, c. 1940.7
Tennis courts behind P.E.O. Hall, c. 1941
Tennis courts behind P.E.O. Hall, c. 1940.7
Dancing practice in Neale, c. 1952
Dancing practice, c. 1952.13
A modern dance performance in Neale, c. 1959
A modern dance performance, c. 1959.19 Victorine P., Blossom P., Donna C., Mary D., Mary H.
Swan Lake performance, c. 1959
A performance of Swan Lake, c. 1959.19
Cottey tennis courts, 1969
Cottey students relax after a game of tennis, 1969.10
Emerson society soccer game, c. 1976
Emersons play in a society soccer game, c. 1976.15

Works Cited:

  1. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1947. Print.
  2. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1965. Print.
  3. Stockard, Orpha. Cottey College: The First 75 Years. Joplin, MO: Joplin Printing Co., 1961. Print.
  4. Troesch, Helen DeRusha. Life of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. Wayside Press, Inc., 1955. Print.
  5. Murray Kimball, Beverly. Interviewed by Carrie Reeves. "Alumnae Memories From the '40s." Viewpoint. 2008: 1, 18. Print.
  6. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1949. Print.
  7. Cottey Junior College promotional booklet. c. 1940. Print.
  8. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1915. Print.
  9. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1938. Print.
  10. "Miss Cottey Started Her School in 1884." The P.E.O. Record. Mar. 1969: 17-24. Print.
  11. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1959. Print.
  12. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1966. Print.
  13. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1952. Print.
  14. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1959. Print.
  15. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1976. Print.
  16. Cottey Junior College promotional booklet. c. 1939. Print.
  17. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1936. Print.
  18. Schenck, Beulah. Personal scrapbook. 1908.
  19. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1926. Print.
  20. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1927. Print.
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