From the 1880's to the beginning of the 1890's, women were very limited as to the types of sports they could play. Ladies were only permitted to play socially acceptable games, such as tennis and golf. For the most part, these sports were seen as pastimes of the upperclass and were not enjoyed by the everyday woman.
In these early days, women were always welcome as spectators to male sporting events and it was considered a sign of great success if many ladies came out to watch the games.
Women didn't become active in sports on a national level until 1885 with the introduction of the "safety" bicycle. When the bicycle was introduced, women were suddenly able to become more active and were often seen riding bicycles all over town. Suddenly, women's fashion was changing to accommodate the use of the bicycle, effectively doing away with the restrictive style of dress. This invention served to inspire women to become more physically active and to encourage them to create their own sports teams and leagues.
The first non-traditional women's sporting event in Sudbury was a rifle shooting contest in the fall of 1895. The contest involved five women and was attended by a large crowd of male and female spectators who marveled at the marksmanship of these ladies.
The women who participated in these non-traditional games were often viewed as "tomboys" and were met with scorn and ridicule. However, their dedication and unwavering spirit encouraged other women to pursue their athletic ambitions in spite of the naysayers and negative images associated with being a female athlete. Their courage and athletic prowess prepared the way for today's gifted female athletes to compete throughout the world.