Originally known as the Red and Black after the colors they wore, Catholic University's athletes came to be known as the Cardinals (often the Flying Cardinals, occasionally the Fighting Cardinals) in the mid-1920's.
Catholic University has fielded athletic teams for more than a century and has an impressive history of achievement and tradition. The Department of Athletics sponsors 21 NCAA Division III sports. The men's basketball team won the 2001 national championship and has made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances.
The football team appeared in two major bowl games (1936 Orange
Bowl and 1940 Sun Bowl) and made three consecutive trips to the
Division III playoffs (1997, 1998, 1999). The baseball team
advanced to the NCAA Division I Tournament in 1977 and the Division
III Tournament in 2011. The track & field team has produced
three national champions, while the swimming program has two
individual national titles as well.
The volleyball team made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2001 and followed it up in 2002, while the field hockey team captured the 2011 ECAC Mid-Atlantic Region championship. The men's swim team has won four CAC titles and three National Catholic Division III championships, while women's swimming has won a Catholic Division III title and softball has an ECAC Southern Region title. Women's soccer went undefeated in the CAC in 2005 and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament and in 2009 the Cardinals won the Landmark Conference title. The men's soccer team earned back-to-back Landmark Conference championships and NCAA Tournament berths in 2009 and 2010.
Catholic University's first recorded competition in football was Nov. 28, 1895 vs. Mt. St. Mary's College, although the school was already competing in track and field.
Catholic's most well-known athletic alumnus is Wally Pipp, who graduated from Catholic in 1914 with a degree in architecture and went on to play for the New York Yankees. A first baseman, Pipp accumulated a streak of several hundred consecutive games before giving way to Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, who played 2,130 consecutive games himself.
Many other Cardinals have played professional sports, including football fullback Rocco Pirro, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League starting in 1940 and remained in the league until 1949, and quarterback Pete Sachon, who was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1940. More recently, shortstop John Douglas '95 was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays and played in the Gulf Coast League in 1994, while wide receiver Steve Wilkerson '95 played briefly in the Arena Football League and professionally in Australia and Ben Crowley '99 and Drew Zachry '00 played pro baseball in the Frontier League. Matt Hilleary and Patrick Dwyer both played basketball overseas in Europe. In addition, Brian Cashman '89 played four years of baseball at CUA and is now the General Manager for the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees.
If you have any memories of CUA Athletics you'd like us to share with visitors to our website, please send an e-mail to Mike Stagnitta. Or if you prefer, send them by mail to:
Sports Information - Webmaster
Raymond A. DuFour Center
Department of Athletics
Washington, D.C. 20064