When Centenary College opened in 1874, it didn’t have an Athletic Department. It didn’t even use the term ‘athletics’. In those days, the students called it ‘physical advancement’ and later, ‘gymnastics’. There were no gym classes, no gymnasium, and no sports. While the Board of Trustees raised money to build a gymnasium, the students kept themselves active with several clubs. The ladies played croquet while the gentlemen created a Cricket Club and a Base Ball Club. Within a year the gentlemen had their own gymnasium, and the ladies enjoyed ‘light gymnastics in a suitable apartment’. The ladies gymnasium was built in 1885.
In the mid-1890s, President Ferguson made athletics a notable feature of Centenary Collegiate Institute life. In June of 1896, a “Director of the Young Men’s Gymnasium” was added to the faculty. The school laid out a running track, baseball diamond, football field, 11 tennis courts, and croquet and quoit grounds. The men’s athletic teams included baseball, track, tennis, and football. Although women played basketball and tennis, their teams were not always included in the school’s Athletic Association. Professor Denman, the Athletic Coach from 1903 – 1910, revolutionized men’s athletic. He also supported the idea that the Athletic Association should create an annual publication to record and preserve Centenary’s athletic achievements. The result was the Hack: Centenary’s first yearbook.
After 1910, the school became a women’s college and a new Athletic Association was formed. This organization started off with 3 basketball teams, a field hockey team, a swimming team, and a track team. From the tradition Athletic Association came the Women’s Athletic Association, whose goal was to promote an interest in all recreational activities. The W.A.A. sponsored competitions, clubs, and events to encourage physical education. In 1989, the school became coed again and men’s sports were welcomed back. Another addition to athletics was a mascot! Centenary’s sports hadn’t had a mascot for several years but in 1990 the school chose the Cyclone as our mascot.
Today the Athletic Department is thriving, offering several sports for men and women.