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Campus Athletics

Arizona’s universities offer programs that challenge any kind of athlete, whether it’s biking around campus, pounding a drum, or training for the Olympics or Paralympics. Wildcats, Sun Devils, and Lumberjacks showcase the exceptional athletes that enrich their campuses and our communities.

Arizona State University Sun Devils

Giulia Molinaro videoJason Clarke video

Women’s Golf

Arizona State University holds the nation's longest streak of women's golf National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship appearances. In May 2012 the team advanced to the NCAA Championship for the 21st consecutive year! This long-respected team can brag about a few outstanding achievements, but nothing tops their undefeated season in 1994 and 1995, a “magical year” that finished 155-0-1 and swept the national title.

Shot Put

For the past three years, the Sun Devils have nailed the shot put competition at track and field events. Ryan Whiting took the NCAA Championship in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, sophomore Jordan Clarke won the title. In March 2012, Clarke beat his personal record at the NCAA Indoor Championships. His 20.85 meter (68 feet, 5.25 inches) throw earned him his second national crown and first indoor first-team All-America award.

Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks

Lopez Lomong videoThe NAU climbing wall welcomes climbers of all skill levels.

Olympic Heights

Since 1968, Flagstaff has been one of the world’s leading altitude training locations. The Northern Arizona University (NAU) Center for High Altitude Training, open from 1994 to 2009, has hosted more than 6,000 team members from 4 countries in 16 different sports. NAU’s Wall Aquatic Center, one of the finest high altitude swimming facilities in the world, continues to draw elite athletes from around the globe. Individual runners and some teams are still seen on or around the NAU campus.

Olympic runner Lopez Lomong inspires excellence beyond athletics. Some people recognize Lomong as bearer of the American Flag at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Others know him as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The two-time U.S. National Champion in the 1,500 meter dash graduated in from NAU in December 2011. Look for him next at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Great Outdoors

Taking advantage of the natural features of the Colorado Plateau, NAU programs and facilities heighten enjoyment of the great outdoors. NAU’s climbing wall lets students develop climbing skills before scaling nearby rock formations. The football field is home to the summer training camp of the Phoenix Cardinals. Now the Yellow Bike program encourages fitness for all with free, green transportation. Yellow bikes are available for loan so students cruise around campus and the City of Flagstaff. Student-powered transit is part of NAU’s successful campaign to become a more bike-friendly campus. The plan worked—the League of American Bicyclists recently named NAU a silver-level bicycle-friendly university.

University of Arizona Wildcats

Wheelchair tennis videoThe Pride of Arizona video.

Adaptive Athletics

The largest and most successful program of its type in the country, Adaptive Athletics offers differently abled athletes the opportunity to compete nationally and internationally in wheelchair track, quad rugby, tennis, and men's & women's basketball. The April 1997 issue of Sports Illustrated included the Adaptive Athletic program as a reason for the University of Arizona’s #12 rating in the top overall Division I athletic programs in the country. Operational expenses for all five teams come from fund-raised dollars.

The Pride of Arizona

University of Arizona's marching and pep bands truly are The Pride of Arizona. The program enjoys a reputation as one of the finest athletic band organizations of its kind in the country. The 250 members of battery unit drumline and award winning units of baton twirlers, pompon dancers and color guard captivate crowds with socially relevant artistic statements while performing challenging musical arrangements and contemporary, drum-corps style drill design.

First swimming pool, 1916. Birth of Wilbur the Wildcat: 1959. What else has changed in the 127 years since the University of Arizona was founded? Scroll through the slideshow for a century of campus capers.

A University of Arizona cheerleader, 1973.

UA Yell Leaders, 1940.

First photograph of UA Yell Leaders, 1924.

UA cheerleaders, 1942.

UA women equestrians, early 1930s.

The first Wilbur Wildcat, 1959. As a substitute for a live wildcat mascot, Wilbur made his first appearance at the UA-Texas Tech football game, November 7, 1959. Inspired by the University of California’s “Oskie,” a person dressed up as a bear, Wilbur was the creation of Richard Heller, ’62, and John Paquette, ’60. In a simple masquerade costume funded by the Associated Students, he was sent out on the field with the cheer leaders to stir up the crowd, entertain with humorous antics, “stalk” the officials, etc. He was such an instant success that he was taken “on the road” to the Air Force Academy game the following week. 

UA swimming pool, 1916. The first swimming pool was constructed in 1916 behind the Shop and Assay Building ($3,371.25 for materials, $1,736.06 for labor) and referred to in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents as a “reservoir” for irrigation and fire protection. For the following two years it was thus identified on campus maps, though the Catalogue noted that it was also available as a swimming pool. The “Arizona Wildcat” pointed out that it was “an unusually fine pool, larger by several feet than most pools, and so constructed that the water is constantly changing.”

Frisbee game at the UA mall, 1970.

Students on the way to Sabino Canyon for a picnic, 1900.

Women’s gym class, c. 1905: Posing at the horizontal bars are seven young ladies from the Preparatory Department. Holding the ball is Marie Purcell, and at her right is her sister Ivy, both of Tucson. Of the group only they went through the 4-year prep course and the 4 years of college work, and received their degrees. The girls are wearing the regulation gym suit: a blouse with a sailor collar, and a divided skirt. The suit required four yards of double-width 54-inch dark blue serge. One could make her own outfit from a Butterick pattern or buy a ready-made one at the gym for $3.75.

The first UA track team, 1897.

UA polo team, c. 1925.

UA football team, 1914.

Thanksgiving Day game on the athletic field running parallel to Park Avenue (site of the once-upon-a-time library which now houses the Arizona State Museum). UA was defeated by the University of New Mexico, 23-11. The championship trophy was presented to the victorious team by that “silver-tongued orator,” William Jennings Bryan, whose son was attending the University as a sophomore. The Arizona Daily Star commented that “it was worth parting with the cup to hear Mr. Bryan’s speech!” The team thought otherwise.

This team was undefeated in five games and won the first Territorial Football Championship for UA. It was coached by student athlete, Leslie Gillett. 

The 'Arizona Daily Star' in October, 1896, noted that "basket ball has been introduced to the campus and the boys are playing often." It was not until 1904 that an official UA basketball team was established. While the first gymnasium, Herring Hall, was completed in the summer of 1903, students continued to play on the outdoor court, shown here, which was part of the athletic field.

A small stadium section on the east side of the field, along Cherry Avenue, constructed in the summer of 1938 with $45,000 surplus from the PWA building program, seated about 3,600. At this particular homecoming game the happy fans cheered the Wildcats to a 28-21 victory over Kansas State, and no one dreamed of the shattering event that would happen just one week away on December 7.