The History of Sports at CPS
“CPS WINS STATE IN SEVEN SPORTS!”
Although I would love to see that happen, The College Preparatory School most likely won’t win seven state championships – we just aren’t that good at sports. However, we aren’t as athletically challenged as our representation seems to suggest either. Other schools seem to look at College Prep sports teams as laughing stocks – we are all familiar with the tag, “Can’t Play Sports.” In spite of this reputation, the history of sports at CPS is an intriguing one.
When Mary Harley Jenks and Ruth Willis founded our school, an interscholastic athletic program was not included in their vision. They wanted The
The College Prep Girls Varsity Volleyball team playing a game in 1980
College Preparatory School to be a school that was, in the words of Miss Jenks, “very academic as a corrective to what was going on in some public schools.” The founders did not want an athletic program to get in the way of their academic vision. Yet today, sports have a huge role at Prep. Sixty five percent of students at College Prep participate in a sport. So, how did we get to this point?
When Robert Baldwin came to the school in 1968, he felt that College Prep needed a sports program, but faced a challenge regarding facilities; College Prep’s campus had no built-in space for training. The first boys’ basketball practice, which happened in 1968, took place outdoors at the Emerson Elementary School, in the rain. In the 1968-69 school year, College Prep had boys’ basketball and soccer teams played a few games with other schools. At this point, the soccer team was forced to use the field next to Chabot Elementary School, which sufficed for practice, but became challenging for games; they played all of their games away (with a cheerleading squad).
In 1973, the first girls’ sports were volleyball and basketball. In 1975, a short-lived period of crew which practiced on Lake Merritt began. Tennis was introduced in 1976, and students used the nearby Chabot Canyon Racquet Club for practices. Girls’ soccer began in 1978, and boys’ volleyball started in 1982. In 1983, cross-country began. Since then, College Prep has become home to a few more sports. Currently, Prep has ten different sports: baseball, basketball, cross-country, volleyball, track and field, golf, swimming, soccer, tennis, and softball.
Throughout our history, our sports teams have been faced with the problem of lacking facilities. For many years, we have rented gyms around Oakland and Berkeley
College Prep Boys Varsity soccer team playing a game in 1980
for basketball and volleyball, and as mentioned previously, other sports have had to practice at off-campus locations like the field next to Chabot. When College Prep moved to its current campus in 1982, it did not have a gym, so the new campus didn’t change much in the sports department. The gym was finally built in 1990, but regardless, most sports still had to go off campus for practices and games much like we do now.
Despite this challenge, College Prep sports have become surprisingly successful. Since 2010 alone, we have won twenty-one league titles. That’s a lot! Despite our beginnings as a school where sports weren’t important, sports have become crucial to our school’s culture. And as Mary Harley Jenks wanted, sports don’t get in the way of our academics. So maybe the Cougars can win seven state titles. Well, not seven. That’s just crazy. Maybe six?
The Girls 2015 Varsity Cross Country warms up before a race source: Meghan Z.