by Donna Fletcher Crow, Class of 1964
No, it wasn’t the hall of Hogwart’s Academy. It was the old college gym whose walls reverberated with noisy cheers, cries, and groans of the loyal supporters of each of the four groups.
Each brightly decorated section of the gym was packed with enthusiastic students. The colors of the banners, crepe paper streamers, and adherents’ clothing told it all: Olympians, red and white; Sigma Lambda Alpha, green and gold; Lambda Sigma Phi, Blue and White; Alpha Delta Phi, gold and purple.
Competition was fierce as each Athletic-Literary society cheered their basketball team toward victory. (These were not playground pick-up games: Coach Monty Lee attended them to scout players for the varsity.) Points were awarded for decoration, for winning games, and for team spirit— therefore the deafening clamor.
Long before Harry Potter took part in the old English Public School tradition of dividing students into houses where highly prized points could be garnered for one’s group to promote loyalty, participation, and spirit, NNC was doing just that through its athletic-literary societies.
In the best Greek tradition of honoring both physical and mental development, Dr. H. Orton Wiley started the literary part of the societies and Dr. DeLong the athletic part. It was the heart and soul of NNC’s social and intramural life. The athletic portion had sports for every season: In the autumn it was touch football for men and softball for men and women; winter brought basketball for all students; and in the Spring again it was softball and track. Sprinkled throughout the year were ping pong, badminton, and tennis tournaments.
The literary portion consisted of society plays, debate, and speech and music contests. But one couldn’t spend all one’s time on athletic-literary society events or all would be lost. The students were always aware of the dreaded bench list. The Academic Dean’s office published a list of students who had below average or failing grades. If one’s name appeared on the “bench” they were ineligible to participate in the intramural program until grades came back up to standard.
It would be particularly dreadful to be benched for one of the annual highlight events—the closed night program or the basketball jamboree.
It was probably the intensity of the volume that has kept the memory ringing through the years: sitting on that hard wooden bleacher in my green sweater yelling at the top of my voice, “Go Gryffindor!” Er— make that, “Go SL….”