The Western Spirit

THE HILLTOPPER TRADITION

Located in picturesque Bowling Green, Western Kentucky boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation, with 200 acres of the main campus sprawling over Southcentral Kentucky.
For over 90 years on this campus there has been a common thread among Western students called the "Western Spirit" and it's a spirit well known to Hilltopper fans. Defined as a special feeling of belonging, more than 66,000 alumni and nearly 15,000 WKU students share that Western Spirit.

The first official intercollegiate athletic competition involving Western Kentucky University was a baseball game with rival Eastern Kentucky in Bowling Green in 1910. The Hilltoppers won that first contest 6-0.

Though the first game took place more than 90 years ago, World War I and World War II interrupted Western athletics from 1916-1921 and again from 1943-45. While baseball ranks as the oldest sport on the Hill, football has recorded 81 seasons of competition. Hilltopper basketball also has 81 seasons in the record books.

The first women's athletic event for WKU was a basketball game in 1914. Women's basketball competition was suspended from 1916-1920; started again in 1921 and halted from 1932 until it began again in 1974. An overall athletics program for women had its first official push in 1973, with the start of golf and tennis. The growth of women's athletics on the Hill has continued in recent years with the addition of swimming in 1997, softball in 1999, and women's soccer in 2001.

Western was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference for 34 years (1948-82), winning the All-Sports Championship 12 times. Western joined the Sun Belt Conference in 1982, winning the Commissioner's Cup, significant of overall athletic excellence, in 1987. Western has finished in the top half of the league 15 times in the last 18 years.

Western Kentucky has enjoyed great success in its athletic endeavors over the years. The women's basketball team has competed in three Final Fours, advancing to the title game in 1992. The men's basketball team went to the Final Four in 1971, and was runner-up in the prestigious National Invitation Tournament in 1942.

The Hilltopper football team has won eight Ohio Valley Conference titles, competing as an independent from 1982-98, and returning to the league in 1999. WKU is slated to join the Gateway Football Conference in 2001.

Western Kentucky football has produced 18 first-team All-Americans, competed in the NCAA playoffs four times and finished the year ranked in the Top 20 poll on 11 occasions.

The baseball team has won three Ohio Valley Conference titles, won more than 1,200 games and produced seven All-Americans. Western athletes have claimed NCAA individual titles in cross country, track and gymnastics, and have earned All-America honors in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, gymnastics, riflery, swimming and track and field.