CWU Athletics Collections
The CWU Athletics Collections feature guides, statistics, and press releases documenting the history of the athletics program at Central Washington University.
The CWU athletics program dates back to 1893 with the introduction of a Physical Culture class at the Washington State Normal School (WSNS) and with the first women’s basketball game played in 1895. Throughout the 1890s and early 1900s, the WSNS men’s and women’s basketball teams played local and regional high schools. In 1909 the Normal School hired a part-time athletics coach to manage the growing number of sports teams. Later that same year, the men’s basketball team played Bellingham Normal School (Western Washington University), making it the first inter-collegiate sporting event in the school’s history. The athletics program served as part of the Department of Health and Physical Education until 1983, when it became its own independent department.
Since its founding, the athletics program at CWU has experienced notable successes. For instance, between 1929 and 1990, the school's basketball program was managed by the most victorious father-son coaching duo in collegiate basketball history. Together Dean and Leo Nicholson led the basketball team to 1,114 victories out of 1,392 games---an unrivaled accomplishment in college basketball. See the collections below for more about the Nicholsons and others who participated in athletics at CWU.