Celebrating Purdue University Calumet’s Sports History
“Athletics in the 1950s centered on intramurals, truly amateur varsity teams, the Armory, and Coach Bob Hayes.” Sports programs were hard to run at PUC because it was a commuter campus. PUC had a required physical education course (PEM 112) that “met outdoors in warm weather” and cold weather required them to hold classes inside at local school gyms and later at the Armory. In 1952, one instructor was responsible for the intramural program. “In a typical season, some two or three dozen students played basketball, baseball, volleyball, and table tennis in intramural competition. There was even a golf team.
Basketball has always been the main show. Purdue Calumet’s first basketball team was formed in 1952 and played at the Civic Center. The team lost every league game because they “never quite had the time to practice.” Nevertheless, they “emerged triumphant from the statewide “Extension Tournament” at Fort Wayne. A picture of the winning team can be found in the book Purdue University Calumet - The First Fifty Years by, Lance Trusty, a former professor of history and former Head of the Department of History and Political Science at PUC.
PUC basketball player, William T. Smith was among the first group of student athletes to receive the honor of being awarded a “Purdue Calumet Letter P”. Upon donating the “P” to PUC, Mr. Smith sent a copy of the official letter which he received upon the issuance of his Purdue Calumet Campus “P” letter and that it is on display. Because there was a time delay between when he was informed of the award and when he actually received it, William T. Smith wore his original letter of award on the sleeve of his jacket and it was not sent to PUC because in his words it was “less suitable for display.” Mr. Smith’s letter of donation is on display.
The game worn authentic 1970’s era PUC Pipers Soccer Jersey with embroidered Pipers logo was acquired in the PUC Lake Area United Way Silent Auction in November 2009 and donated to Archives and Special Collections by Vice Chancellor, Information Services, Frank Cervone.
PUC owns a cassette collection of Sports Insights spanning the years September 1985 – October 1994.
PUC once included race car driving among its list of sports. Bob Hayes along “with the support of many faculty and administrators” who “agitated for decent athletic facilities. PUC campus athletics were helped by several changes: *in 1954 a committee on Athletic Control was established to advise the athletic director *there was a thin stream of cash from student activity fees (Hayes still spent his own money as well) *John Shields and Judy Umbach joined the athletic staff in the late 1950s Some information taken from the book – Purdue University Calumet The First Fifty Years by, Lance Trusty.