Gymnastics became important in 1891, when Lyman Gymnasium was built and Dr. Fred E. Parker was appointed director of physical culture. Regular classes for students included instruction in Indian clubs, dumb-bells, single-sticks, and foils. A demonstration of physical training by six hundred students in Infantry Hall on March 3, 1898 was the first of the annual gymnastic demonstrations. In 1914 a varsity gym team coached by Lucien Joseph Gay was successful in its two meets with Harvard and Haverford. The next year the team lost to Harvard and Yale, defeated Dartmouth (in the first athletic contest since Brown and Dartmouth severed athletic relations in 1907). and participated for the first time in the annual intercollegiate meet at Columbia. Team captain Edward Hincks ’15 was prevented by an injury from participation in that meet, and Brown came away scoreless. In 1916 Hincks coached the team through a longer season of three losses and four wins, team captain Ernest Mattison ’16 amassed fifteen first places during the season, and Brown was second in the intercollegiate meet at Philadelphia. The gym team disappeared after the season of 1917, during which it defeated Harvard and Haverford and tied with Dartmouth.
Jackie Court has coached women’s gymnastics since from 1970. The team had its first winning season, 6-4, in 1979 and a better season, 10-1, in 1980, followed by an undefeated season in nine dual meets in 1980-81. The team finished third in the Ivy League in 1986 and 1988. In 1990 Brown hosted the Ivy tournament and won the championship with a school-record 175.80, .05 of a point ahead of Yale. Funding for women’s gymnastics as a varsity sport was withdrawn in 1991 as part of the University’s budget reduction.