By the 1920s, physical education had become a requirement for women for the first two years of their college career at Oklahoma A&M. However, they only engaged in competition against other classes of women on campus and did not compete against other schools in athletic events until the 1960s. The exception seemed to be the college rifle team (photo) which did compete against other schools in matches organized by the National Rifle Association.
Flora May Ellis (pictured), who served as head of the women’s physical education department from 1923-1954, and Valerie Colvin, her assistant and director following Ellis, were big supporters of intramural sports and actively involved in helping organize the first All College Play Day that was hosted by the University of Oklahoma in 1929. Each college brought nine women to the play day and each was assigned to a different team.
Ellis and Colvin were known for their vocal willingness to speak out for improvements and by 1930 they were credited with providing a well-rounded physical education curriculum for coeds. Both women were also actively involved in related national organizations and Colvin benefitted from a national rating as a basketball official, which gave her an important role in state efforts to implement rules for training officials for women’s sports.