Centennial Moments: Famous Firsts in Babson Athletics

Centennial Moments: Famous Firsts in Babson Athletics

BABSON PARK, Mass.—The history of athletics at Babson College dates back to the early 1920s when the newly-founded Babson Institute took on the Babson Statistical Organization in baseball. Throughout the years, the department has celebrated a number of milestones that have helped shape history of athletics at Babson.

Varsity Competition
Men's basketball formed the first varsity team at Babson and played its first game against the Wollaston Ramblers on January 19, 1931. The "Financeers" suffered a 32-29 loss in its inaugural game and actually dropped its first five contests before ending the year with seven consecutive victories to conclude the season at 7-5.

Athletics Director
Administrator Charley Butler put together the first Athletic Committee in 1935, but Babson Institute did not have an official athletics director until Squire F. Burtis Jr. was named to the position in 1947. In his first year as AD, he oversaw six teams along with the Outing Club and the Gun Club. Burtis, who also coached the men's basketball team from 1948-51, served as AD until 1952.

Full-Time Coach
After going through a number of coaches in its first two decades of competition, Dick Thomas became Babson Institute's first full-time coach when he took over the men's basketball program in 1953-54. He led the team to an 11-6 record and a Greater Boston Small College championship in his first season, and claimed a second consecutive title while ranking in the top 10 in the NCAA in defense in 1955. Thomas would become Babson's third athletics director in 1956.

National Tournament Bid
Men's golf, which dates back to 1947 at Babson, went 13-3 during the 1961-62 season behind Greater Boston Golf Championship medalist Mike Barry '62. Barry finishes second at the NEIGA Championships, and although unable to participate due to injury, he is invited to play in the National Collegiate Golf Championships at Duke University.

Female Coach
Betty Catinella was hired as the first female coach in Babson history, taking over the men's swimming & diving program in 1965. The team's first meet, a victory over Nichols, was covered by a national wire service and several Boston newspapers.

Craig St. Amour '75, arguably the most decorated swimmer in program history, earned Babson's first All-America award in the 200-yard freestyle at the 1973 NCAA Championships. St. Amour would go on to capture six more All-America honors over the next two seasons.

Women's Program
Under the direction of head coach Fran Hartwell, basketball becomes Babson's first women's athletics program when it plays five games in the 1974-75 season. Additionally, four women compete for Babson's men's swimming & diving team. Women's swimming & diving is later added as a varsity sport in 1985.

National Championship
Legendary head coach and administrator Bob Hartwell leads the men's soccer program to the College's first NCAA Division III national title in 1975. The Beavers go 17-0-1 to post the only unbeaten season in program history and defeat Brockport State, 1-0, in the championship game to claim the first of three titles in six seasons between 1975-80.

Women's All-American
Just five years after the birth of the program, Anne Sarich '89 became Babson's first female All-American by earning honors in both the slalom and giant slalom at the 1987 USCSA National Championships. Sarich followed up this recognition by winning all 10 of her regular season races to help the Beavers once again qualify for nationals after capturing a second consecutive league title in 1988. 

Women's National Championship Appearance
The winter of 1993 provided a breakthrough for women's athletics at Babson as two programs earned NCAA Championship bids. Jordana Schneiderman '95 quallified for the first of two NCAA Diving Championships and went on to earn All-America honors, while legendary head coach Judy Blinstrub led the Beavers to a 23-win campaign that featured a second straight NEW 8 Tournament title and a spot in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Beavers defeated Western Connecticut State in their NCAA debut before falling to Capital inside Staake Gymnasium in the sectional semifinals. 

Women's Final Four
Under the guidance of head coach Julie Ryan, field hockey becomes Babson's first women's program to advance to an NCAA Final Four back in 2016. The Beavers were selected as one of four regional hosts and blanked St. John Fisher and Franklin & Marshall before falling to eventual national champion Messiah in the national semifinals. Babson set program records with 21 wins and 15 shutouts while scoring 88 goals, which is good for the second highest total in school history.