“The Orange and the Black”
Sports have always been an important component of student life at Lewis & Clark. As early as 1886, the Albany College Athletic Association organized clubs and events for popular sports such as cycling, track, and tennis. In 1901 Willamette Valley colleges of comparable size—Pacific, McMinnville, Monmouth, and Albany—organized the College Athletic League of Oregon. In the first year of the league Albany won championships in track & field and football.
World War I was hard on college athletics. Seventy-three percent of the male students enlisted shortly after the US joined the war in the spring of 1917. After a three-year hiatus from sports, Albany returned strong in 1919 as the “Pirates” to winning seasons in basketball, baseball, and tennis. The “Pirates” remained Albany’s mascot until the campus closed in 1938.
With the move to the Fir Acres estate in 1942, and the change of the mascot from “Pirates” to “Pioneers” in 1946, Lewis & Clark athletics flourished. The 1949 men’s basketball team became the first Lewis & Clark team to win a Northwest Conference title, and the 1950 football team won the Pear Bowl at the end of an undefeated season. The 1970s was the Pioneers’ most successful decade to date as they won 40 conference championships, including 10 consecutive titles for women’s tennis.
In 1998 Lewis & Clark moved from NAIA to NCAA Division III; in the same year the men’s basketball team made it to the Elite Eight of the championship tournament. By 2011, women’s cross country won its second consecutive conference championship. In the same year the women’s basketball team earned its first ever berth in a NCAA Tournament.