Women’s athletics on the MU campus go back to 1889, when the University of Missouri Board of Curators made one semester of physical education a requirement for women.
The female students used a room on the top floor of Jesse Hall along with a small run-down shack, which was used as a dressing room for women involved in outdoor sports. Over the years, MU women participated in wall scaling, hiking, field hockey, indoor baseball, table tennis and badminton.
The first women’s basketball team started in 1898; games were mostly played among classes, freshmen through seniors. They also played against Christian College, now known as Columbia College. By 1901, the women were playing teams from Kansas and Nebraska, and basketball quickly became one of the most popular sports for women. The Women’s Basketball Association was formed in 1904.
The Women’s Athletic Association originated in 1910. It struggled with low attendance and was reorganized in 1912.
The Girls Rifle Team, which started in 1921 as one of the first in the United States, went undefeated in 1924.
MU student Emily Marshall was the best rifle shot of 1933-34 with 23 consecutive bull’s-eyes. The athletes practiced under the eaves of the attic in Jesse Hall, where the bullet holes can still be seen.
A new women’s gym, known today as McKee Gymnasium, opened in 1923, the same year archery became available.
Today, there are more than 195 female athletes at MU; 159 are on scholarship. Since joining the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1982, female sports at MU have been ranked in the Top 25 several times.
Source: Research by former MU student Melissa Everitt.
— Jen Loehr