Athletics and physical education have always played an important role at Alverno College. Physical education was a requirement for degree completion at Alverno from 1948 through 1976. Two years of PE were required until 1965 -- after that, one year of PE was deemed sufficient.
From 1948 through 1973, every student was automatically a member of the Alverno Athletic Association (AAA), which in later years became the Alverno Recreation Club. Sister Margaret Mary Martin, chair of the physical education department, was the moderator of the AAA, and the first awards banquet was held in 1956.
At various times, students participated in badminton, ping pong, volleyball, table tennis, basketball, track, softball throw, basketball throw, tobogganing, ice skating, roller skating, swimming, and bowling. "Play days" and "stunt nights" included comedy sketches, fashion shows and dance demonstrations. The Annual Spring Field Day was the culmination of athletic endeavors. Intramural competition was a constant, often with the postulants playing the lay students.
From the early 1950s and through the 1960s, basketball and volleyball were offered on a state level, under the auspices of the Wisconsin Athletic Federation of College Women. The purpose of this group was “to teach and train coaches and provide a healthful program.” Alverno teams competed against Marquette University, Cardinal Stritch, Wisconsin Extension, La Crosse, and State Teachers College (which later became the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).
Starting in 1977, as Alverno's Weekend College took off and the student population and interests changed, physical education was no longer offered as a minor and was no longer a required class. Students were encouraged to participate in the physical education classes offered at Alverno, including dance, gymnastics, golf, tennis, volleyball and jogging. Intramural sports included basketball, soccer and track.
In 2000, athletics made its return to the college with the unveiling of the Alverno Inferno. In addition to the renovation of the gymnasium, locker rooms, offices for the athletics staff, a fitness center, an athletic training room, and team room were created. Basketball and volleyball were the first intercollegiate varsity sports offered while cross country, soccer and softball began intercollegiate competition in 2001.
After provisional status for four years, Alverno became a full member of the NCAA Division III in 2004. With its induction into the NCAA, the college also became a member of the Lake Michigan Conference (LMC).
Alverno athletics experienced two major changes in 2006. The college became a charter member of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) when institutions from the LMC and Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference joined forces. Secondly, a generous donation by the Reiman family funded a campus beautification project that was completed in October. This included a NCAA regulation soccer field, a NCAA regulation softball diamond, and a building which houses a press box, concessions, restrooms and storage.
In 2009, Alverno added tennis as its sixth intercollegiate sport while golf was added at the seventh in 2013.