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Five Epic Eras in SAU Sports

March 2014

1893-94: With mixed administrative enthusiasm due to its "roughneck" nature, football is introduced in the fall of '93. The team loses 18-0 in its inaugural outing vs. Augustana but rebounds to beat Davenport College 12-0. Football is not officially played again until 1906. The pastoral national pastime of baseball is a more welcome extracurricular activity in the spring of '94. An 8-2 first-year record includes a 23-19 win over Augustana.

1909-11: LeClaire Hall opens as a state-of-the-art athletic facility in '09, leading to the start of bowling and handball teams. In December, eight young men launch the sport of basketball. Their lone win in eight games is a 26-24 overtime thriller over Moline High. Two years later, track and field joins the roster when property on the west edge of campus is graded to accommodate athletic fields.

1931-50: Two decades of football dominance includes the coaching stints of Dukes Duford and Larry "Moon" Mullins, who post a composite record of 100-17-6. The first crew coached by Mullins, who played for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, finishes unbeaten and unscored upon in '40.

1983-84: The PE Center opens during a banner sports year. Nine years after women's sports are introduced at St. Ambrose, the women's volleyball team rises to a No. 5 national ranking and the women's basketball team goes 26-3. Meanwhile, alum Ray Shovlain debuts as men's basketball coach; third-year men's golf coach Jeff Griebel is national coach of the year; and a men's tennis team coached by the legendary Shelly Weiner advances to the national tourney for a seventh straight year. Two significant Summer of '84 arrivals: Jim Fox becomes athletic director and his first hire is a women's basketball coach named Lisa Bluder.

April 13-14, 2012: In what might be the most epic 27 hours in SAU sports history, the women's dance team wins the first national team title in school history on a Friday afternoon in Daytona, Fla. The following night, the men's volleyball squad settles for a second straight NAIA Nationals runner-up finish in front of a frenzied crowd in the PE Center.

Much of the above is from Rev. George McDaniel's A Great and Lasting Beginning: The First 125 Years of St. Ambrose University.


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