History of the Smith College Mascot

Natalia Kreciglowa ’18
Assistant Sports Editor

The Smith Pioneers haven’t always been known as such: the Pioneer was introduced in 1986. The Smith Pioneer is a representation of the many athletic firsts that have taken place at Smith. In 1982, Senda Berenson Abbott of the athletics department introduced Smith women to basketball. In 1971, Smith was the first women’s college to join the NCAA.
In 2008, the Spirit logo—a blue face with fire-like hair—was introduced. The process of picking the Spirit image was very long. In fall 2007, a nine-member committee that included athletic director Lynn Oberbillig and SGA President Emily Taylor ’08 was formed. The committee interviewed athletes and coaches and then held an online poll, which generated over 1,400 responses. Beginning in 2009, the Spirit mark was included on most uniforms and athletic memorabilia.
Smithies of many generations have been pioneers, and this school nurtures generations of firsts: Christine Von Wedemeyer Beshar ‘53 was the first female partner in New York City’s largest law firm; Ann Baumgartner Carl ‘39 the first woman to fly a jet plane and Victoria Chan-Palay ‘65 the first woman to receive a medical degree summa cum laude from Harvard, among many others. The Pioneer is a title that is hard to live up, but Smith women go above and beyond to be pioneers in daily lives, as well as in athletics. It’s truly an honor to be a Smith Pioneer.

One Comment

  1. Sophia Severino SC '81 says:

    Suggesting a correction to the date basketball was introduced as a sport to students at Smith: The following quote is copied and pasted from NewsSmith published in Spring 2004, “When Women’s Basketball Was Unusually Polite”
    By Jennifer Jennings ’04

    “The actual first women’s basketball game was played on March 22, 1893, in Smith’s Alumnae Gymnasium. The Smith gymnastic instructor, Senda Berenson, adapted the game rules for women only a year after the game had been invented by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. That first women’s game was played between two teams of Smith College students: the class of 1895 (sophomores) and the class of 1896 (first-years). The audience was exclusively women, since the bloomers worn in public by the players were considered immodest and inappropriate for the eyes of men.”

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