The improvement of Elizabethtown College’s Athletic Program reached a standstill as the United States entered World War II. Many college-aged people in the 1940s chose to enter into the military, stunting college enrollment and severely hindering the growth of Etown athletics.
The teams hurt most by lowered enrollment were baseball and soccer. The baseball team set a record for wins, going 10-4 in the spring of 1941, but did not play again until 1945. The men’s soccer team only played three games in the fall of 1942 and did not compete again until 1947.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams continued to play throughout the 1940s, but the men’s team suffered major setbacks as a result of the war. The team went from 9-8 in 1940-1941, the final season before the war, to 2-14 the following season. By the 1945-1946 season, the men improved to 6-5. The women’s program stayed successful, boasting records of .500 or above during every season in the 1940s.
Even during this difficult time in American history and for Etown athletics, a few Blue Jays still made strides on the court. Guy Buch, ‘45, of the men’s basketball team, led the country in average points per game in the 1944-1945 season with 23.7. On the women’s side, Annette Mumma, ‘46, averaged 23.8 points per game during the 1943-44 season, the fourth-highest number of points per game in the Etown’s women’s basketball history.
Both Buch and Mumma were inducted into the Ira R. Herr Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975 and 2013, respectively. According the Etown athletics website, Mumma scored 110 baskets and 42 foul shots for 262 points in the two seasons she played for Etown.
By the late 1940s, Etown athletics were back on an upswing. After playing intermittently during the 1920s and 1930s, the men’s tennis team was officially reinstated in the spring of 1947, going 24-2 in its first three seasons. The men’s soccer team came back in 1947 and went 3-3. The baseball team earned its first post-war winning record in 1948.
The women’s basketball team went 12-2-1 in the 1947-1948 season, setting a record for wins that stood until 1977-1978. Frank Keath, ‘49, led the nation in highest number of career points and became Etown’s first 1,000-career-point scorer. He ended his career with the Blue Jays with 1,873 points, a record that lasted until 1987.
The program struggled to find success in the early 1940s, but by the end of the decade, Etown’s athletic teams were winning games, setting records and, in some cases, leading the nation with their accomplishments. Etown’s athletic program continued to grow during the 1950s with the addition of three new teams and the program’s new membership to the NCAA.