George E. Denman

THE ATHLETICS

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

Original gymA very important aspect of student life at Centenary has always been athletics, but when Centenary Collegiate Institute opened in 1874, there was no gymnasium. To keep active, students created sporting clubs until gyms could be built. Men and women had ‘physical advancement’ classes in separate gymnasiums. In the 1890s athletics became a notable feature of C.C.I. life. The school laid out several athletic fields and hired an athletic director.

DenmanIn 1903, George E. Denman became C.C.I.’s Director of Athletics. Denman was also a Latin professor and the House Master of the Boys’ Dormitory. He revolutionized the athletics program – every sport excelled under his instruction. Professor Denman was also instrumental in the creation of a school annual called The Hack, Centenary’s first yearbook. Denman was the head of Athletics from 1903 to 1910.

WAAAfter 1910, the school became a women’s college and formed a new Athletic Association, eventually called the Women’s Athletic Association (W.A.A.). C.C.I. became Centenary Junior College, with Senior and Freshmen classes competing in intramural games. The W.A.A., whose goal was to promote an interest in all recreational activities, sponsored clubs and events to encourage physical education.

CycloneIn 1989, the school became coed again and men’s sports were welcomed back. Another addition to athletics was a mascot! Centenary’s athletics currently offers eight sports for men and seven for women.

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PROFESSOR GEORGE E DENMAN

denman 1905

Denman in 1905

“His life is gentle, and the elements so mixed in him, that nature might arise, and say to all the world: This is a man.”

These words of appreciation were said about a man who came to Centenary Collegiate Institute (C.C.I.) in 1903 and quickly earned the admiration and respect of every student. He was a teacher of Latin, Director of Athletics, House Master of the Boys’ Dormitory, and a friend to all who knew him.

George Edward Denman’s dedication to his athletes led ‘green’ teams to victory year after year. Although his specialty was football, having played for Williams College and Columbia University before becoming an athletics coach, his indomitable spirit commanded Centenary’s sports teams to greatness. Football, basketball, baseball, track – every sport excelled under his instruction.

Athletics 1907

Professor Denman, Togo the mascot, and the 1907 Football Team

Denman can also be credited with helping start Centenary’s yearbook. The Athletic Association’s success created a need to produce a yearly historical record intended to emphasize the “prowess of C.C.I.” (Custard, 113). Student Harry H. Runyon suggested creating a school annual and, with the support of Professor Denman, the Athletic Association created the 1904 Hack, the college’s first yearbook. Had it not been for the accomplishments of the Athletic Association (guided by Denman), the yearbook would not have been established so early in Centenary’s history.

Professor Denman stayed at Centenary only 7 years but did enough for the school in those few years to fill a lifetime. He was remembered fondly by his students and will always be remembered by those who treasure Centenary’s past.