While today’s female students play in any and every intramural sport offered by RecSports, their predecessors in 1921 had limited choices. Under the auspices of the Women’s Athletic Association, female students could only try out for teams in hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis, canoeing, swimming and dancing. Their participation earned them credit through a point system. One hundred points earned a T pin, 700 a T sweater and 1,400 earned the ultimate prize, the coveted T blanket.
Anna Hiss, the director of physical training for women, recognized the need to reward these female students for their athletic achievements and organized two separate events held on successive days. On the first day, an awards presentation was held and all women participants were invited to attend. The following night, a special T Night banquet was hosted for all T award winners. The tradition of the T Banquet continued for many years and the banquet became known for its special themes and elaborate decorations, including a large electric, orange colored T. Celebratory toasts, spirited singing and demonstrations by clubs added to the festivities. In 1928, the two events were combined into a single formal dinner dance.
By 1933, when women’s intramurals became a separate program from the clubs, trophies replaced the T blanket and sweater awards. May Lee Weston, a participant from that era recalls, “The elimination of the point system that had girls working endlessly to earn points from this tournament or that activity resulted in more women playing in an atmosphere of interest, pleasure and clean sport rather than the one that emphasized rivalry and undue labor.“
T Night Evolves
Throughout the 30s and 40s, the T Night tradition continued to be the highlight of each year. As the intramural program grew in the 50s and 60s, T Night remained theme-oriented with the clubs and intramural managers serving in leadership roles on committees to organize and run the event. Meta (Mogford) Talley (‘56), kinesiology major, Delta Zeta manager, intramural official and All-Around athlete, remembers T Night in the 50s and that she won the Participation Award in 1955–56. She recalls that each club decorated their table for T Night to vie for the Best Decorated Table prize. She adds, “During my undergraduate years, the top three organizations won a traveling trophy for earning the most points from all the tournaments. We also won participation trophies for having the most members of our group or sorority play at least one sport. First, second and third place trophies went to those organizations with the highest participation, to the three best managers and one winner received a sportsmanship award.”
During this era, campus faculty and administrators, such as Dean of Student Life Arno Nowotny–noted for helping to found the Texas Cowboys–were invited to present the awards. As the decade of the 60s ended, additional awards were added to T Night, including the Best Official Award and Best Athlete Award. With the combining of men’s intramurals and women’s intramurals in 1972–73, T Night officially ended, replaced by an end of year awards ceremony for both men and women.