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UW-River Falls Athletics

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Freddy the Falcon:

Freddy the Falcon evolved from a 1930 Student Voice contest to name the athletic teams on campus. The $3 prize went to Harry Roese's winning entry, "Falcons," chosen for the symbolism of a swift, accurate, and fearless predator.

The Pledge Song:

"To thee River Falls we pledge all our love, And to thy banner floating above. May we in passing add just a gem, To shine forever in thy diadem."

The Pledge Song was written by Professor Marvin Geere for the semi-Centennial celebration in 1924. By 1930 it had become the school hymn and was sung during all assemblies. Professors frequently asked questions about school songs on pre-game exams to encourage students to learn the lyrics.  

"My first pep assembly--how I looked forward to it! The students all stood up to sing the Pledge Song. I stood up with them. My voice trembled, my knees shook and my hair stood on end. Suddenly I felt as though I belonged here and I began to sing with all my might. I had the College Spirit!"

RF freshman quoted in the Student Voice: Nov. 1, 1927


Baseball Although intramural teams existed as early as 1887, the very first baseball game played at River Falls took place in May of 1896 against a local high school team. The college boys lost 12-11. A rematch took place the following week in which the college boys beat the high school team with a score of 16-11.

"Chub" Lowry, RF pitcher, 1919
Women's Baseball, 1949
1919 Baseball Team
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Baseball Team, ca. 1911, with Professor J. H. Ames as coach

The late 1940's marked a heyday for basketball at River Falls. Nate DeLong (#35-1949), a star player and the nation's leading scorer helped lead the Falcons to 4 state championships and three national competitions. In 1947, after noticing that the team did better when Coach George Schlaugenhauf (with 1946 team) wore a bow-tie, it became tradition for players and all male faculty to wear one on game day. The mayor of River Falls even proclaimed it "Bow-Tie Day" when the team won the state championship that year.


1918 Women's Basketball Team
womens basketball
"Early Bloomers," ca. 1915
Balcony spectators at a basketball game of North Hall's "Crackerbox Gym," 1938
Men's Basketball Team, 1940
Men's Basketball Team, 1918

College football at River Falls began with a reputation as being brutal ruffian amusement, unfit for college men. The first interscholastic game was played in 1869 but even in 1894 when a real college team was established, the Normal Nockers (who made their own uniforms), many among the faculty and townspeople were apprehensive. A football team "means arnica if not anarchy in this peaceful hamlet," wrote C. R. Morse in the River Falls Journal, October 18, 1894. During WWII, the Homecoming theme was "Win for the War Widows!"

The very first HOMECOMING at River Falls took place on November 18, 1922. The celebration was citywide. Homes and businesses were decorated in school colors; almost every campus organization built a float for the parade in which hundreds of students, alumni and townspeople marched on their way to cheer on the team at Ramer Field. The 1920's also saw the emergence of the "Snake Dance," a tradition in which students left classes en mass to link arms and "snake" through town.


During WWII, the Homecoming theme was "Win for the War Widows!"

1915 State Champs
jimmy carolan
Jimmy Carolan, ca. 1915. Captain of the Football and Basketball Teams
football team
Football Practice
football team
1921 Football Team

Tennis, which was played in freshman gym classes on campus as early as 1880, dropped off in popularity by 1895 due to long, lagging matches. After 1900 tennis regained respectability because President Theodore Roosevelt was a fan of the sport. By the 1920's, students as well as members of the faculty were competing in lively singles and doubles tennis tournaments on the courts outside of South Hall.

 uwrf swim

Ladies Swimming Team (ca. 1920's) with Charlotte Curran, coach

tennis 1905

Tennis Courts near South Hall; women in ankle length dresses and men in suits playing doubles, ca. 1905

Ladies' Archery, ca. 1945
Male Swim Team, ca. 1940
1930 Women's Soccer Team
swimming 1955
Swimmers, 1955
feild hockey
Women's Field Hockey Team, ca. 1935
volly ball
Ladies Volleyball Team, 1929
tennis 1905
Tennis Tournament, ca. 1890
swimming 1955
Swimmers, 1955

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University Archives and Area Research Center
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