0 to 30: How Cal’s varsity programs have expanded since 1882

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Cal has 30 varsity sports teams — an astonishingly high number for a public institution that did not emerge overnight.

This is a timeline of the emergence of many of Cal’s sports, stadiums, notable games and Bears.

1882: The oldest of them all. Rugby is officially Cal’s first sports team in 1882.

1892: In 1892, Cal baseball took shape on Berkeley’s campus. Edwards Fields and Stadium, which includes both the track and baseball stadiums, were built in 1932 and were named in memory of “Colonel” George C. Edwards.

The Big Game was born this year as well, arguably the most historic matchup in all of college football, if not college sports.

1893: The Cal’s men’s crew team and men’s track and field were born.

1912: The men’s basketball and soccer teams are recognized as having their start this year.

1915: The Pacific Coast Conference is created. Cal, along with Washington, Oregon and what is now Oregon State University created the PCC. This conference would serve as the first Cal would be a part of in history and lay the foundation for the Pac-12.

Cal men’s swimming also began its first season on Cal’s campus.

1916: State College of Washington, what is now Washington State University, joined the PCC.

1918: Both men’s water polo and cross country had their first charter seasons. Fifty-five years later, the men’s water polo team achieved its first NCAA National Championship and has won 13 additional titles since then.

Also in 1918, Stanford joined the PCC.

1922: Men’s gymnastics first arrived as a Cal sport in 1922. Some years later, in the 1947-1949 seasons, Cal’s Charlie Thompson claimed back-to-back individual national titles in tumbling.

Men’s tennis also came to be a Bear sport in 1922. Three years later, the Bears came away with their first national championship.

In addition, USC joined the PCC in 1922.

1923: The men’s golf team had its start in 1923.

1928: UCLA joined the PCC.

1959: After three years of controversy over penalties, the PCC, Cal’s first athletic conference, was disbanded in 1959.

Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington then went on to form the Athletic Association of Western Universities, or AAWU.

1962: This is the year that Underhill Field was built. Underhill is now the home of the women’s field hockey team.

1964: After the addition of Washington State, Oregon and OSU to the AAWU, the name of the sports conference was changed to the Pacific-8 Conference.

1972: Cal women’s basketball came into being after Title IX was passed. In its debut game, Cal’s club team took on UC Riverside’s squad and fell, 67-40.

1974: Some of the earliest rosters of both Cal women’s swim and Cal women’s gymnastics can be linked to the year 1974.

1978: In 1978, the Pac-8 conference added Arizona and Arizona State and became the Pacific-10 Conference.

The Pac-10 stood unchanged for more than three decades until Colorado and Utah became the conference’s 11th and 12th members in July 2011. It was then that the Pac-12 was born, and it still stands today.

1982: In 1982, Cal women’s soccer first made its mark in Berkeley. The team’s first season consisted of a mere six games, whereas in the 2017-18 season the Bears competed in 20 matches.

1996: 1996 marked the first year of women’s water polo as a varsity sport on Cal’s campus. In the Bears’ first season, they almost managed to pull off winning a national title — a feat that is monumentally impressive for any sport.

1999: In 1999, the women’s lacrosse team announced that it would be an official varsity sport at Cal, and its addition brought the number of women’s sports at Cal to 14.

2018: 136 years after the inception of its first sport, Cal boasts 30 varsity sports and continues to be represented by hundreds of student-athletes.

Christie Aguilar is an assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous of this article incorrectly stated that Cal recognized football as the first sport on campus. In fact, rugby was the first sport recognized on campus.