PEs celebrate 100 years

The PE program has helped keep kids fit for a century

Claude Miller

This year has been one of celebration for all things athletic at Washington and Lee, as it marks the one hundredth year of the Physical Education program on campus.

The program was started in 1915 and was designed to teach students about physical activities and how they relate to good health and hygiene. A healthy and fit student body is an expectation on campus.

The P.E. program here at W&L is unlike any other college’s program. Physical education is included as one of the Foundation Requirements that make up the base of academics on campus. Students are required to take four terms of P.E. classes, as well as pass a swim test before graduation.

When the program first started, freshman and sophomores had to take a set of required classes.  Over time the variety of classes and freedom of choice have grown tremendously.

Classes range from yoga to weight-lifting, from scuba diving to golf and from basketball to squash.  This allows students to explore and have fun doing things they normally wouldn’t do.

“Everyone can find four classes that interest them,” Catherine Roach, ‘16, said.  “It’s awesome how fun the coaches make it, but also how much you learn about whatever you’re taking.”

The P.E. classes also give students a chance to meet coaches and professors that they wouldn’t otherwise.

“I love my P.E. class,” Bennett Roach, ‘19, said. “It has given me an opportunity to meet certain coaches. It’s just another way to be a part of the W&L community.”

While the explicitly stated goals of the program are to develop healthy and fit students, the courses offered are simply fun.

Even athletes get to experience the fun of P.E. and explore activities outside of their sport, though they are only required to take half the number of P.E. classes as other students. Competing in a varsity sport counts as two semesters of P.E. classes.

“I really enjoyed my PE experience,” basketball player Austin Piatt, ‘17, said.  “I took yoga during spring term my freshman year and it was a great way to start the day and increase my flexibility.”