Men’s Rugby at Elon

October 9, 2015

Emma Flaherty

Elon Men's Ruby team circa 1995. Photograph by

Elon Men’s Ruby team circa 1995. Photograph by Pendulum staff.

During Homecoming 2015 celebrations, Elon University’s men’s club rugby team is celebrating its 20th anniversary. However, the first mention of men’s rugby in the student-run newspaper, The Pendulum, came seven years before the team’s founding in 1995. In 1987, the men’s rugby team at Elon was a small organization under a parent team, the Dan-river rugby club based out of Danville, Virginia. Elon team members travelled to Virginia to practice with the Dan-river team and a few Elon students even played in several of Dan-river’s matches. Unfortunately, the Elon rugby team could not get a $400 fee to cover spring dues in 1987 from the college; after this news, the men’s rugby team disappears from The Pendulum until 1995.Throughout its history, the men’s rugby team has consistently overcome a lack of experience with the sport, primarily because many students had no previous exposure to rugby before joining the team. Older players on the rugby team have taken charge of teaching the new players the basics since 1995. Despite this obstacle, the team has won their divisional league title in 1997 and the North Carolina state tournament consecutively in 2008 and 2009. Just as the men’s rugby team has grown in skill and notoriety over the years, its fan base has also grown considerably since the team’s inception. The state championship match in 2008 was attended by over 400 Elon fans.One of the most notable records of the men’s rugby team comes from a series of articles in The Pendulum by freshman rugby player Jay Voelker. He provided a personal look at the men’s rugby team through his weekly article about his experiences as a new player on the team. Running from September 13, 2001 to November 15, 2001, Voelker’s series detailed an entire season of men’s rugby. This snapshot of the team displayed the incredible team unity which coincides with references to rugby over and over again.

For more information and to access the student newspaper online, check out

Rugby team fights to exist. Elon, NC: The Pendulum. 2 December 1987. Belk Library Archives and Special Collections, Elon University, Elon, NC.

Elon tackles rugby. Elon, NC: The Pendulum. 2 March 1995. Belk Library Archives and Special Collections, Elon University, Elon, NC.

Men’s rugby team, late 1990s. Photographs, EUA028. Belk Library Archives and Special Collections, Elon University, Elon, NC.

Men’s Rugby wins league; falls one short of Sweet 16. Elon, NC: The Pendulum. 8 April 1999. Belk Library Archives and Special Collections, Elon University, Elon, NC.

The rugby diaries: team limps into tourney. Elon, NC: The Pendulum. 15 November 2001. Belk Library Archives and Special Collections, Elon University, Elon, NC.

Successful memories spur on rugby team. Elon, NC: The Pendulum. 24 September 2008. Belk Library Archives and Special Collections, Elon University, Elon, NC.

Special Olympics at Elon

Betty Garrison
April 11, 2014

Special Olympics, 1995

Special Olympics, 1995

Elon and the Special Olympics have always had a special bond.  Elon College hosted the first state Games in 1972, just four years after the first national Special Olympics Games were held in 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago.  Over the years, Elon has supplied thousands of volunteers, from those who plan the event to those who partner with an athlete for the day to all those who sit in the stands to cheer them on.  Each athlete is a winner and each receives a medal on the day they compete. Continue reading

Celebrating Women’s Athletics at Elon

Jennifer Smith
March 14, 2014

On March 11th, 2014 the Elon University Women’s/Gender Studies Program and the Athletics Department sponsored a panel about the history of women’s athletics at Elon. Panelists for the event included:

Ana Nicksic ’16: Elon sophomore from Valparaiso, Ind., exercise science major and setter on the volleyball team.  She was named to the NCCSIA All-State Second Team, and earned Elon’s top newcomer award in 2012.

Sloane Kessler ’17: Lacrosse player, first-year Elon student and communications major from Owings Mill, Md. At McDonogh High School, she was a 2012 IAAM all-star and also won awards in basketball and field hockey.

Priscilla Awkard ’95: Starting setter for Elon’s volleyball team from 1991-94 where she broke numerous records that still stand today. She is a member of the Elon Sports Hall of Fame, continues to play competitive volleyball and is a coach and administrator at Jammers Volleyball Club.

Jackie Myers: Head women’s basketball and tennis coach for Elon from 1985-94. She is an Elon Sports Hall of Fame inductee, was assistant athletic director at Geneva College and is currently the athletic director at Meredith College.

Faith Shearer: Associate athletic director of Elon Athletics and senior woman administrator since 2002.  Oversees Phoenix women’s basketball, lacrosse, track and field, tennis and volleyball programs, and coordinates gender and diversity efforts for the department. She has also served on numerous committees for the Southern Conference and NCAA.

Dr. Janie Brown: Professor Emerita of Physical Education and an Elon Medallion recipient who served more than 20 years as chair of Elon’s physical education department. She was a trailblazer in advancing the women’s athletic program, and is the past president of the board of directors of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Rod Clare, associate professor of history and member of the W/GS Advisory Council served as the moderator. To view the event, click here

Bryan Burney, 1991 Elon Sports Hall of Fame

Shaunta Alvarez
January 31, 2014

You may have seen him strolling into the library during the late afternoon as he makes his way to the newspaper rack. To look at him, you would never know that this quiet man with laid-back mannerisms set impressive records during his time at Elon. Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Women’s Athletics at Elon in the 2000s

Julia Mueller
March 29, 2013

2010 SoCon Softball Champions

2010 SoCon Softball Champions

On May 14, 2010, the Elon women’s softball team, coached by Patti Raduenz and seeded number two, defeated the number four seed UNC-Greensboro Spartans in the Southern Conference Championship.  Prior to playing UNC-G, the Phoenix defeated UT–Chattanooga Mocs, which was the number one seed in the SoCon tournament.  This was the first time in the season that the Mocs lost.  The championship was a first for Elon as well–it was the first time an Elon women’s sports team won a conference tournament title since joining the Southern Conference in 2003.  This was also the first tournament title for Elon women’s athletics since the soccer team brought home the Big South tournament title in 1999.   Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Women’s Athletics at Elon in the 1980s-1990s

Julia Mueller
March 22, 2013

The 1999-2000 women's soccer team.

The 1999-2000 women’s soccer team.

The 1980s and 1990s at Elon was a time of great transition as the college sought to gain public recognition.  The student body profile, in addition to the alumni and faculty, was changing in that Elon became more engaged in academics, networking, and athletics.  This in part was due to the “Plan of the 90’s” that worked to increase the quality of Elon and develop programs.  In 1991, the South Atlantic Conference moved to NCAA Division II from the NAIA.  However, the Division II was considered “No Man’s Land,” and on June 17, 1996, Elon officials decided it was time to go to Division I in the NCAA.  Elon participated without conference affiliation for the first two years before joining the Big South Conference in 1999.

Most of the Elon sports teams struggled in Division I due to the increased competition, but in 1999, women’s soccer prevailed.  Coached by Paul Webster, the women were the third seed in the championship and defeated Liberty University in overtime.  The team won the Big South Tournament Championship, becoming the first program at Elon to go to a Division I NCAA postseason tournament.  According to the Magazine of Elon Winter 2000 issue, “junior midfielder Erin Morse earned first-team All Big South Conference honors and was named to the league’s All Academic Team.  Four Elon players were named to the All Conference second team, including junior sweeper Patricia Clark, sophomore midfielder MacKenzie Sisson, sophomore defender Erin Lautermilch and junior goalkeeper Sommer Cork.” Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Women’s Athletics at Elon in the 1960s-1970s

Julia Mueller
March 15, 2013

Women's Volleyball Team in 1975

Women’s Volleyball Team in 1975

The 1960s and 1970s were a time of different turning points in both American and Elon history.  The Vietnam War, the Civil Rights and women’s movements were just a few of the milestones that occurred.  This impacted women’s sports in various ways.  The Commission of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women was soon recognized, and America faced a time of subsiding societal restrictions.  This in part was due to increased coverage of the Olympics, where women had been at least to some extent competing since the 1900 Paris Games.  Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Women’s Athletics at Elon in the 1940s-1950s

Julia Mueller
March 8, 2013

Women's Tennis Team in 1949

Women’s Tennis Team in 1949

“Archery for skill, volleyball for coordination, and riding for the figure is Elon’s way of turning out healthy, ‘well-rounded’ girls.” – Phi Psi Cli, 1953

World War II caused lasting impacts at Elon College, especially the changed role of sports for both men and women.  In 1942, men’s intercollegiate activities were temporarily abolished, and the soldiers stationed on campus used the gymnasium for training.  It was not until 1944 that sports became a part of Elon activities once again.  Due to the effects of the war, fitness became a more crucial factor in individuals’ lifestyles on local and national levels.  It was soon acceptable for women too to physically train to improve overall health and strength.  Continue reading

Women’s History Month: Women’s Athletics at Elon in the 1920s-1930s

Julia Mueller
March 1, 2013

Women's Archery in 1939

Women’s Archery in 1939

During the beginning decades of Elon as an institution, society held a very different impression about women than the contemporary opinion.  Lady-like behavior was strongly encouraged, and women were often protected against potential masculinity that was incorporated in notions about sports and physical training.  At the turn of the twentieth century, women were confined to calisthenics and recreational tennis.  Over the next twenty years, the Young Women’s Christian Association at Elon College was formed and requests for more athletic opportunities were expressed.  As views of women changed in America from delicate to more durable, the trend in sports was reflected accordingly. Continue reading