Sweet Briar History

Sweet Briar College was founded in 1901, the legacy of Indiana Fletcher Williams, who left her entire estate to found an institution in memory of her only daughter, Daisy, who died at the age of 16 in 1884. At the time of Mrs. Williams' death in 1900, her estate consisted of more than a million dollars, and over 8,000 acres of land, including the Sweet Briar Plantation. The first Board of Directors determined that the College should be free from denominational control and that it should maintain the highest academic standards. Sweet Briar would unite classical and modern ideals of education and, in the words of its founder, prepare young women "to be useful members of society."

Sweet Briar College opened formally in September 1906 with 51 students, including 15 day students. Its A.B. degree, granted for the first time in 1910, was immediately recognized by graduate programs at leading universities, with three of its first five graduates pursuing advanced degrees. 

Athletics At Sweet Briar

Athletics at Sweet Briar began in 1910 with a club tennis program. Within a few years time, the tennis club boasted a membership that topped 100 students.

In 1925, Sweet Briar was victorious in its first intercollegiate tennis match against Lynchburg College. The winning tradition has continued, because over the last decade, 17 Sweet Briar players have won ODAC Championship Flights, 13 have been listed in ITA National Rankings, and 4 have been named to the VOLVO/ITA All-Academic Squad. Kristina Glusac '92 was selected to the NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Championships in both 1989 and 1992. The team won the 1990 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship and has won most of its matches against other women's colleges in the Mid-Atlantic area since 1987. In November of 2010 Ariel Taylor '14 was ranked 20th in the ITA South Region. Taylor, along with teammate and doubles partner Moriah Burke '13, grabed the #10 spot in the Women-Atlantic South Doubles ranking. The team has also participated in national and regional tournaments and has been ranked in the top 50 nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.  Most recently, Taylor '14 earned a berth in the NCAA Division III Championships.  The Tennis Program enters its 106th season at Sweet Briar during the 2016-17 academic year.

Lacrosse Joined Sweet Briar Athletics in 1914. The 2016-17 school year marks the 103rd season of Sweet Briar lacrosse.


In 1941 the Sweet Briar Lacrosse team played the first intercollegate lacrosse game in the country against The College of William & Mary. Lacrosse at Sweet Briar has a history of success. Nationally and regionally ranked in the past ten years, Sweet Briar has produced three conference players of the year, 12 All-Conference players, 25 regional All-Americans, and 12 All-Americans, including Mary Blair Farinholt, a three-time selection. Missy Ackerman '87 scored 60 goals her senior year, was conference player of the year and was named to two All-America teams. All-American Amy Ottaway capped a 62-goal season by playing for the South in the Senior All-Star Game, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a double major.

The Field Hockey program enters it's 97th season in the fall of 2016.

The field hockey team played the first intercollegate contest for women in the state of Virginia in 1920. The Field Hockey Team celebrates a successful career. Over the 92 years the program has produced; seventy-nine all-conference players, six conference players-of-the-year, four all-state players, one all-state player-of-the-year, 32 regional All-Americans, eight All- Americans, 32 academic All-Americans, and two national scholar-athletes; National Academic Team award, 2004 and 2005.

Sweet Briar Sports: Ahead of Its Time By Jennifer Crispen - Click here to Learn more about Sweet Briar and our Athletic history.