The Women’s Athletics Project

The legacy of Women’s Athletics at Hope College


Hope College’s tradition of athletic excellence is a significant component of the institution’s historical narrative. On June 6, 1872, the Flying Dutchmen’s legacy was established with a 30-12 victory over the Grand Haven Eagles Club baseball team. In 1926, Hope College became a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). The MIAA is the nation’s oldest intercollegiate sports league, established in 1888. For nearly a century, the MIAA exclusively administered its members’ male athletic programs. In 1941, the Women’s Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (WMIAA), the MIAA’s counterpart, was established. In 1978, five years after the passage of Title IX, the WMIAA merged with the MIAA; the MIAA assumed responsibility for the administration of its members’ female athletic programs. While the 1978-1979 academic year is officially recognized as the start of Hope College’s female athletic program, evidence suggests that the Lady Dutch’s tradition of athletic excellence predates 1978. Scholars documenting the school’s pre-Title IX era highlight the achievements of male athletes, teams, and coaches, casting a shadow on the accomplishments and competitions of females.

In an effort to disrupt the traditional narrative, students may conduct archival research, fieldwork, and or textual analysis. Hope College’s Joint Archives of Holland maintains the joint archival collection of the MIAA and the WMIAA. The Joint Archives also holds a collection of local newspapers, including the Anchor and Holland City News. These materials may be supplemented by interviews conducted by the students (see community contact list for recommendations). While students are encouraged to independently develop a project, potential projects and digital components are provided below as a starting point.

Potential Inquires
Topic // Research Question // Research Problem

I am researching Hope College Athletics and its spectator culture from 1930 to 1950 because I want to identify and analyze the political, social, and economic factors that altered how female students engaged with college athletics in the decades immediately preceding and proceeding the establishment of the WMIAA in 1941 in order to contextualize the development of organized intercollegiate women’s sports.

I am interviewing Hope College female athletes so that my readers may better understand the complex and varied lived experiences female athletes so that my readers may better understand the complex and varied lived experiences female athletes.

I am studying Title IX as it pertains to athletics because I want to evaluate Hope College’s implementation of the policy in order to better understand its commitment to achieving gender equality in sports.

I am conducting a textual analysis of local newspapers’ coverage of women’s athletics because I want to investigate shifts in the media’s reporting on female athletes and female coaches so that my readers may better comprehend society’s perception of athletic women.

Suggested Digital Components

Students may create an interactive timeline documenting the history of women’s athletics at Hope College. The arc of the historic narrative could follow one specific athletic team, such as tennis, or feature several women’s teams. The timeline could be enhanced with images, videos, and digitized archival material.

Oral History Video Series
Students may conduct interviews with Hope College Alumnae, current female athletes, and coaches. While they could compile a feature length documentary, students may also choose to produce short featurettes on a variety of interrelated topics. In addition to the videos, students could prepare an accompanying curriculum, which teachers could download. The curriculum could include a document reader, a series of questions, and project suggestions.

Digital Scrapbook
Students may use a digital storytelling platform to compile a well-researched “scrapbook” highlighting historic sports moments, successful female athletes, and supportive teammates. Photographs, videos, newspaper clippings, autographs, and digitized archival materials would feature prominently in the scrapbook.

Statistical Tool
Students may compile a database of statistical information on the local media’s coverage of Hope College’s female athletes and coaches. In addition to developing this Google ngram-esque tool, students could also devise lesson plans, activities, and projects for educational purposes.


Alex Galarza
Alex Galarza examines soccer and society in Buenos Aires.

Dr. Choonghee Han
Dr. Han specializes in broadcast and multimedia journalism, digital storytelling, and new media.

Dr. Chad Carlson
Dr. Carlson specializes in the history and philosophy of sports.


H00-1373.50. NCAA National Championship Teams. Records, 1989-2000, 2005-2006. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.

H08-1675.1. De Wachter (The Watcher). 1868-1941. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.

H08-1683.3. Holland Sentinel. Newspaper, 1912-1947, 1950-1952. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.

H88-0234. Hope College Living Heritage Oral History Project. Records. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.

H88-0315. Hope College Athletics Guide. 1967-[ongoing] (incomplete), Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.

H88-0336. Holland City News. Newspaper, 1872-1977. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.

H88-0426. Anchor. 1887-[ongoing]. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.

H91-1110. Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). Records, 1892-UPDATED-ONGOING. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI. *Partially Restricted

H97-1250.50. De Hope (The Hope). 1865-1933; bulk, 1888. Joint Archives of Holland, Hope College, Holland, MI.


Brake, Deborah L. Getting in the Game Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution. New York: New York University Press, 2010.

Brewer, Gordon M. –But How You Played the Game!: A History of Intercollegiate Athletics at Hope College. Holland, Michigan: Hope College, 1992.

Brewer, Gordon M. Journey of Hope: Names and Games Remembered: Hope College Athletics, 1955-1970. Holland, Michigan: Hope College, 1992.

Couturier, Lynn E. “‘Play With Us, Not Against Us’: The Debate About Play Days in the Regulation of Women’s Sport.” The International Journal of the History of Sport: 421-42.

McDonagh, Eileen L., and Laura Pappano. Playing with the Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal in Sports. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Messner, Michael A. Taking the Field: Women, Men, and Sports. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Pickett, M. W., M. P. Dawkins, and J. H. Braddock. “Race and Gender Equity in Sports: Have White and African American Females Benefited Equally From Title IX?” American Behavioral Scientist: 1581-603.

Reilly, Jean. Women and Sports in the United States a Documentary Reader. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2007.

Salter, David F. Crashing the Old Boys’ Network: The Tragedies and Triumphs of Girls and Women in Sports. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1996.

Ziegler, Susan G. “Media Literacy: Shaping Women’s Sports.” Academic Exchange Quarterly 10, no. 3.

Community Contacts
  • Sue Beckman, Head Coach of the 1990 Women’s Basketball NCAA Championship Team
  • Jim Bultman, Former Hope College President
  • Dan D’Addona, Holland Sentinel Sports Reporter
  • Eva Dean Folkert, Former Athletic Director
  • Dr. George Kraft, Former Department Chair
  • Brian Morehouse, Head Coach of the 2006 Women’s Basketball NCAA Championship Team
  • Provost Richard Ray, Former Department Chair and Athletic Trainer
  • Tom Renner, Former Vice President of Public and Community Relations
  • Becky Schmidt, Head Coach of the 2014 Women’s Volleyball NCAA Championship Team
  • Karla Wolters, Former Head Softball Coach (1988-2010)

Methodology & Theory
  • Critical Theory
  • Cultural Theory
  • Feminist Theory
  • Functionalist Theory
  • Historiography
  • Interactionist Theory