410 South Third Street    River Falls, WI 54022 715/425-3567 archives@uwrf.edu

The History of Pep
River Falls State Teachers College Cheerleading Squad, 1931-32
RF STC Cheerleaders, 1931-32
Freddy the Falcon evolved from a 1930 Student Voice contest to name the athletic teams on campus. The $3 prize went to Harry Roese's winning entry, "Falcons," chosen for the symbolism of a swift, accurate, and fearless predator

Freddy the Falcon


Cheerleading Squad, ca. 1948
RF STC Cheerleading Squad, ca. 1948


The Pledge Song

To thee River Falls
we pledge all our love,
And to thy banner
floating above.
May we in passing add just a gem,
To shine forever in thy diadem.

Members of the River Falls State Teachers College Cheerleading Squad, 1941: Glen Brigham & Anna Mae McDowell
 1941 RF STC Cheerleaders

The Pledge Song was written by Professor Marvin Geere for the semi-Centennial celebration in 1924. By 1930 it had become the school hymn and was sung during all assemblies.

Professors frequently asked questions about school songs on pre-game exams to encourage students to learn the lyrics.

Listen to an archived recording of the UW-River Falls Pledge Song. (440K, 58 sec.)

River Falls Normal School pennant, ca. 1915

"My first pep assembly--how I looked forward to it! The students all stood up to sing the Pledge Song. I stood up with them. My voice trembled, my knees shook and my hair stood on end. Suddenly I felt as though I belonged here and I began to sing with all my might. I had the College Spirit!"
freshman quoted in the Student Voice: Nov. 1, 1927

Football schedule poster, 1952 season

Football schedule poster, 1952 season

River Falls Normal School pennant, ca. 1905.  Cloth "R" letter athletic patch.

In the early days, pennants were made by female students in sewing class (1905).

(Above) River Falls Normal School pennant, ca. 1915; Cloth "R" worn by River Falls athletes, n. d.
(Below) Athletes in the "R" Club, 1929

Athletes in the "R" Club, 1929

"R" Letter Sweater from 1932 Football Team Captain, Joe Braun

1932 football team captain, Joe Braun, donated his letter sweater to the University Archives

Frances Bonney, Women's Athletic Association cup winner, 1929
Frances Bonney, Women's
Basketball Team Captain-Women's
Athletic Association cup winner, 1929

Felt Track & Field banner, 1915

Athletics at UW-River Falls
Excerpt from Songs and Yells, 1915.

From the 1915 "Songs and Yells," handbook given to Normal School students, compiled by a pep-club known as the G.O.P (Girls on Promotion, 1929 )


Although intramural teams existed as early as 1887, the very first baseball game played at River Falls took place in May of 1896 against a local high school team. The college boys lost 12-11. A rematch took place the following week in which the college boys beat the high school team with a score of 16-11.

Women's Baseball, 1949

Women's Baseball, 1949

1919 Baseball Team
1919 Baseball Team

Baseball Team, ca. 1911
Baseball Team, ca. 1911,
with Professor J. H. Ames as coach

  "Chub" Lowry, Pitcher of the River Falls Baseball Team, 1919
"Chub" Lowry, RF pitcher, 1919

The late 1940's marked a heyday for basketball at River Falls. Nate DeLong (#35-1949), a star player and the nation's leading scorer helped lead the Falcons to 4 state championships and three national competitions. In 1947, after noticing that the team did better when Coach George Schlaugenhauf (with 1946 team) wore a bow-tie, it became tradition for players and all male faculty to wear one on game day. The mayor of River Falls even proclaimed it "Bow-Tie Day" when the team won the state championship that year.


Men's Basketball Team, 1918

Spectators at a basketball game in the balcony of North Hall's "Crackerbox Gym," 1938
 Balcony spectators at a basketball game of North Hall's "Crackerbox Gym," 1938

1918 Women's Basketball Team

"Early Bloomers," Women's Basketball
"Early Bloomers," ca. 1915

River Falls Basketball Players, ca. 1939 Meltean Yearbook poses, ca. 1940
1918 Women's Basketball Team

College football at River Falls began with a reputation as being brutal ruffian amusement, unfit for college men. The first interscholastic game was played in 1869 but even in 1894 when a real college team was established, the Normal Nockers (who made their own uniforms), many among the faculty and townspeople were apprehensive.

A football team "
means arnica if not anarchy in this peaceful hamlet," wrote C. R. Morse in the River Falls Journal, October 18, 1894

Jimmy Carolan, ca. 1915. Captain of the Football and Basketball Teams
Jimmy Carolan, ca. 1915.
Captain of the Football and Basketball Teams (mounted postcards)

1915 State Champion Football Team       1921 Football Team
1915 State Champs; 1921 Football Team

Football poses for the Meletean Yearbook, ca. 1930
"Win for the War Widows!"
During WWII, the Homecoming theme was "Win for the War Widows!"

The very first HOMECOMING at River Falls took place on November 18, 1922. The celebration was citywide. Homes and businesses were decorated in school colors; almost every campus organization built a float for the parade in which hundreds of students, alumni and townspeople marched on their way to cheer on the team at Ramer Field. The 1920's also saw the emergence of the "Snake Dance," a tradition in which students left classes en mass to link arms and "snake" through town.


Swimmers in the North Hall pool, 1955
Swimmers in the North Hall pool, 1955

Members of the Male Swim Team, ca. 1940

Ladies Swimming Team with Charlotte Curran, coach. Ladies Swimming Team (ca. 1950's) with Charlotte Curran, coach

Swimmers in the North Hall pool, 1955 Swimmers, 1955

Tennis, Swimming & More...
Tennis, which was played in freshman gym classes on campus as early as 1880, dropped off in popularity by 1895 due to long, lagging matches. After 1900 tennis regained respectability because President Theodore Roosevelt was a fan of the sport. By the 1920's, students as well as members of the faculty were competing in lively singles and doubles tennis tournaments on the courts outside of South Hall.

Tennis Courts near South Hall, ca. 1905

Tennis Courts near South Hall; women in ankle length dresses and men in suits playing doubles, ca. 1905

Ladies Volleyball Team, 1929
Ladies Volleyball Team, 1929

Women's Field Hockey, ca. 1935
Women's Field Hockey Team, ca. 1935

Tennis Tournament, ca. 1890

Tennis Tournament, ca. 1890

1930 Women's Soccer Team
1930 Women's Soccer Team

Ladies Archery, ca. 1945
Ladies' Archery, ca. 1945

For more information...
UWRF Series 140: Sports Information Office

UWRF SS 49: Women’s Athletics
UWRF SS 66: Athletic Letters Awarded

Go to all Athletic-related University Archives Collections
Go to University Archives Homepage

Sources Used:

Meletean, UW-River Falls Yearbook (UWRF Series 93)
Student Body Class Records (UWRF Series 108)
Student Handbooks, 1918-19 (UWRF Series 106)
Walker Wyman and James King, Centennial History: the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. (River Falls: UW-RF Press, 1975)
University Archives Photograph Collection (UWRF Series 26)

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[Created 6/2006]