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’Cat in the Stacks: “Throw”back Thursday, 1896 Edition

CAT-STAX4I’m William Repetto, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “‘Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your ‘cat. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Memorial Library’s role.

What a devastating loss last Saturday, huh, ’Nova Nation? If you’re among the uninformed: the Wildcats lost a game of football to the Temple Owls this past weekend. Now you’re thinking: “the ‘’Cat in the Stacks is not a sports blog, William. Why are you reporting this here?” 

Well! Sports are in fact an important part of the Falvey currently, as we are exhibiting our “Wildcats: Past & Present” display on the first floor. Now before you say, “What a lame marketing ploy, William,” and you click to a new page, let me highlight one of our pieces for you, and then show what it has to do with your Villanova career: 


This is a picture of the 1896 football team from the “Past & Present” display itself! In addition to being just a very cool artifact in general, the photo tells us a lot about what it means to be Villanovan both as a student and beyond. 

You see, the gentlemen of this photo would be approximately 140 years old if they were alive today (assuming the photo was taken when they were roughly 20). Now take a quick look at the names. Do you recognize any of them? 

I don’t either! To my knowledge, none of these men are particularly famous or historically significant. Even the very gentlemanly looking Captain McDonald, who the photo seems to revolve around, doesn’t strike me as someone I’ve seen before in a history textbook or read about in an acclaimed biography. But now I want you to take a look at another photo: 


This is a picture from last Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. If you zoom in on the scoreboard, you’ll notice that this is the moment the Wildcats’ defeat became official. If you zoom back out and compare the photo to the artifact from above, you’ll notice a striking difference. 

The Wildcats of 1896 didn’t have fancy gear, a giant stadium as their playing field, or indeed more than 16 team members! They still played though, knowing that they enjoyed the game themselves and that their dedication to the program would payoff for students somewhere ages and ages hence. 


I’ve been practicing up on my gridiron skills myself…

There’s a lesson to be learned here that goes beyond sports. No matter what you decide to do with your time at Villanova, whether it’s improving something small about campus or helping a large group on campus get even larger, you can never predict the long term benefits of your project – but that project is definitely worth the added effort. Just look at what became of 16 young guys excited about a sport after 100 years. 

The same lesson goes for life as well. Even if you’re just a small part of a company for a few years, or, even better, if you just spend a couple hours volunteering each week, you could never guess what can become of a small effort when it’s given time to flourish. One day your effort may be immortalized in a display on the past and present.  

Even Hunter’s getting into the football spirit!

For many other lessons that can be drawn from sports make sure to stop by “Wildcats: Past & Present,” curated by Special Collections and the University Archives. Or take a look at the digital library! We’d love to hear about your favorite items; what lessons can we learn from them? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or use the comments below!

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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University. (Graphics courtesy of Bitmoji, and Hunter and I spending hours perfecting our representations!)

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Last Modified: September 14, 2017

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