Exhibit Highlight | UO Women’s Track and Field

We proudly celebrate the recent accomplishments of the UO women’s track and field team winning third place, winning 1st place in the distance medley relay, and winning the 3,000m individual title at the 2019 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships.

The current exhibit, “Oregon Spirit: The Legacy of Track and Field,” highlights some key moments in the history of women’s track and field. The Women’s Athletic Association was founded in 1913, which offered additional opportunities for women to engage in athletics beyond physical education courses. According to the 1914 edition of the Oregana:

The first athletic organization ever to be perfected in the University in the interests of women’s athletics is the Women’s Athletic Association, which was organized during the past year. The purpose of this association is to encourage athletics among the women of the University and to develop a physically more efficient Oregon woman. (p.261)

Women participated in intramural, interclass and intercollegiate contests.  The exhibit includes two field day programs featuring track contests held on the hockey field, and on cemetery ridge.


The exhibit also includes annual reports from the Women’s Recreation Association (WRA), created in 1951 as the successor of the Women’s Athletic Association. In 1966, the Northwest College Women’s Extramural Association (NCWEA) provided standardization for women’s regional intercollegiate contests, and the 1971 formation of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) created framework for national championships. The reports in the exhibit highlight the struggles and successes of the women’s track and field team. The two-page 1970 report describes the season results and gives recommendations for improvement.


In 1973, the Women’s Intercollegiate Association (WIA) was formed as a separate entity from the WRA.  After the passage of Title IX in 1972, the opportunities for women’s athletic grew under the leadership of Becky Sisley (Women’s Athletic Director) and Tom Heinonen (Women’s Track and Field Head Coach). For example, Heinonen succeeded in adding women’s races to the 1977 Oregon Twilight meet. The exhibit contains a mid-1970s decal, and several brochures, including one from 1978.


The team gained national recognition by winning the 1985 NCAA Division I Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship, and several members of the team were recognized as All-Americans. The team continues to win Pacific Coast Conference and NCAA championships, including the first women’s NCAA triple crown (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track) during the 2016-2017 season.

—Lauren Goss, Accessioning and Processing Archivist and Exhibit Curator


Related content:

Media coverage about exhibit: Around the O, The Register-Guard, KEZI TV

Social media:


Private reception with members of the track and field community:


President Schill’s visit with exhibit curator, Lauren Goss:


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