Memories of SSU
G. Edward Rudloff
First Physical Education Department Faculty and Chairman
The Earliest Years
San Francisco State University, Santa Rosa Center held that title from 1956 until 1961, when the California legislature, with the assistance of Senator Joseph Rattigan, officially brought Sonoma State University into existence.
Dr. George McCabe, a San Francisco State Faculty member, was appointed the Center’s director. I taught a course each semester, namely, elementary school physical education, and elementary school health education while a member of the Marin County Superintendent of Schools Office. Classes were held in Fremont Elementary School in Santa Rosa, then at Cotati Improvement Club on Redwood Highway. These two courses were California Credential requirements at the time, sought by most of the adult students enrolled at the Center located at the 100F Hall, then the abandoned Pacific Telephone business office and eventually in an office complex located in Rohnert Park.
Men’s Athletic Program
From the outset (1963-64) it was clear that if Sonoma State College were to have a men’s athletic program, it had but two choices: an independent schedule of athletic participation in a variety of sports for men, or joining the Far Western Intercollegiate Conference (FWIAC) Conference. Participants included Humboldt State, Chico State, Cal State Hayward, San Francisco State, University of Nevada and University of California Davis.
The President’s representative of each campus was the designate faculty representative, who met periodically during the academic year with athletic directors and coaches in each of the sports. Sonoma’s first faculty representative was Dr. Fred Warren, professor of music, who immediately resigned. Dr Gene Schaumberg, professor of chemistry, became the active enthusiastic faculty representative of Sonoma State and its newly developing athletic program.
Sonoma State’s decision to affiliate with the FWIAC was based upon several important factors: participation would be less costly than pursuing an independent schedule, a full competitive sports schedule was guaranteed to satisfy the Physical Education major, and there were no scholarships or grants in aid offered by the conference institutions. Each year another campus would become the conference chair. Sonoma State became the chair in 1971, with me calling the meetings to order on the campus of SSU. The initial mascot of Sonoma State University was the Cossacks, an Eastern European Division noted for superior horsemanship and ferocity in battle. The Cossacks held ties to the area through the 1812 fur trading posts at Fort Ross. This mascot was to be removed in the fall of 2002 by a vote of academic senate after the mascot was deemed offensive to some on campus. Various groups and individuals proposed new mascots such as the Rain Devil, Killers, Blue Wave, Blue Storm, and Condors, as well as the Beagles, in the nod to local legend and Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz. After several non-binding surveys of the students, President Armiñana chose “Seawolves” as the current mascot.
In 1968 men’s athletics included cross-country, golf, track and field, wrestling, baseball and basketball on a budget of $7500. The football program moved in 1969 from external to intercollegiate as required by FWIAC, but was discontinued in 1972 due to a lack of funds.
Currently, Sonoma State’s teams compete in intercollegiate athletics as the Sonoma State Seawolves. The teams participate in the California College Athletic Association, an association within the NCAA’S Divisions. The official colors of the university are navy blue and Columbia blue and white. Sonoma State is best known in intercollegiate athletics for strong baseball and soccer programs while winning national, state and individual athletic titles in nearly all sports at the school. Sonoma State’s baseball team is particularly noteworthy with repeated conference championships, 28 players drafted to major league teams since the year 2000 and 68 players drafted since records began in 1975. Three NCAA national championships won by women’s soccer in 1990, men’s soccer in 2002, and men’s golf in 2009 also highlight SSU’s athletic achievements. In 2008 the athletics department created streaming video over the internet in an effort to further increase interest in its sports programs. Sonoma State also has a strong club sport program including lacrosse (2002 USLIA National Champions), and rowing. The men’s Volleyball Club team recently received All-American honors.