The History of Athletics at Memorial
Athletics played an important role in fostering an identity for Memorial University College (MUC). According to DR. A.C. Hunter, college vice-president, sports helped the first generations of students to build the collegiality that characterized the institution. During the college years, students pursued various athletic endeavours in the St. John’s area, competing against other local teams, such as the Guards and the Bell Island Scotians. This continued into the university era.
Sports were equally important after 1949. According to student handbooks of the 1950s, first-year students were required to play at least two hours of sports per week. MUN’s “Beothuks” began competing against other Canadian university teams in the 1950s. In 1959 they played their first inter-university hockey game in St. John’s against King’s College of Nova Scotia.
This tradition of inter-university rivalry has grown over the years and teams from Memorial have brought home a number of championships. In 1989 the Beothuks were renamed the “Sea~Hawks”. As the university grew, the potential for intramural play increased. Athletics continues to play a major role in the life of students at MUN.
From its days on the Parade Street campus, Memorial University has supported athletic participation by its students. Memorial teams emerged in a variety of sports, with a commitment to formalizing its sporting teams at the varsity level in the early 1960's. At this time, Memorial teams adopted the name Beothuks, after the indigenous people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial competed as the Beothuks until the early 1980's.
In 1990-91 the Memorial University athletic teams adopted a new name and logo, officially taking flight as the Sea~Hawks. The logo is fashioned after the eagle, the osprey, and other birds of prey common to Newfoundland and Labrador. The logo features a collegiate-style "M" with the Sea~Hawk facing west, the direction of its main source of competition. The wavy hyphen which separates the words "Sea" and "Hawks" represents the ocean and suggests the province's marine tradition and ocean heritage.
History Preservation Project
Memorial has had a rich sporting tradition over the past five decades, yet there has been limited celebration of our history. And unfortunately, much of the information relevant to our athletic history and sport success over the past five decades remains undocumented and unaccounted for.
We have committed to collecting, cataloguing and documenting the history of Memorial Athletics with a History Preservation Plan in place to help us achieve our goals. In 2007-08, we launched a display of our all-time Athletic Honour Society inductees, recognizing some of the top student-athletes that have competed for Memorial over the past forty years.
In 2008-09, we erected Butler Row, on the south corridor wall of the Physical Education building. This wall is in memory of the late Frank Butler, an accomplished athlete, coach and administrator at Memorial, who passed away in February 2008. We’ve started with pieces that recognize our all-time CIS All-Canadians and plan to add Championship teams, AUS all-stars, Academic All Canadians and our Athletic Honour Society.
Butler Row will be the place where the outstanding accomplishments of our best teams and athletes will be recognized. It will also be a day to day reminder of the impact Frank had on Athletics.
We are committed to celebrating many of the outstanding accomplishments that our former athletes and teams have worked hard to earn and I welcome you to drop by our facilities to view some of the successes that we’ll be celebrating. I also welcome any information, photos, scores/results and other information you may have during your time as an athlete at Memorial. The success of our findings really depends on contributions from athletic alumni.
We would ask that if you have an interest in assisting with the preservation of the history of varsity sport at Memorial that you contact Bill Thistle.