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Colby E. “Babe” Slater: first alum to win an Olympic gold medal

Colby E. “Babe” Slater (1896-1965) was the first University of California, Davis alumnus to win an Olympic gold medal. Slater graduated from the University Farm School (now the University of California, Davis) in 1917. An outstanding athlete, Slater played on the U.S. Olympic Rugby Team and won gold medals for rugby in 1920 and 1924. At the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, the inexperienced U.S. Rugby Team beat the skilled French team to win the gold. The disappointed French fans rioted in the stands. 1924 was the last time that rugby was played in the Olympics. However, rugby will be reintroduced into the Olympics for the 2016 Games.

After returning from the Olympic Games, Slater bought land in Clarksburg, California, where he farmed for many years.

Special Collections holds the Colby E. “Babe” Slater Collection. The collection contains correspondence, diaries, publications, ephemera, photographic material, and realia. Most of the collection pertains to Slater and the United States Olympic Rugby Team winning gold medals at the Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium (1920) and Paris (1924). The collection also includes material related to the history of the University of California, Davis; the First World War; agriculture; and the history of Yolo County, California. More information about the Slater Collection may be found in the finding aid available on the Online Archive of California.

Colby E. “Babe” Slater


Archives and Special Collections


Colby E. "Babe" Slater Manuscript collections Olympics