A rainy wind swept day doesn't stop Ronald, the class valedictorian, from walking with his mother to his high school's graduation ceremony. With his new, $15 wool suit soaking wet, he arrives at the auditorium and finds a seat near the radiator. As heat from the radiator rises up, so does Ronald's suit, as it shrinks two sizes too small. When Ronald goes on stage to speak, his buttons start popping, to his utmost embarrassment. Ronald's speech "The Curse of Athletics" alienates the entire student body, leaving only Ronald's mother in the audience. As they leave the building, Mary Haynes, Ronald's sweetheart, angrily tells him that everyone loves sports, and that she'll only be interested in him when he proves himself as an athlete.
To pay for his studies and remain close to Mary, Ronald decides to work his way through Clayton College. He takes a job as a soda jerk at the favorite college ice cream parlor. His first day is met with disastrous results as he tries to imitate the more experienced clerk. Mary and Jeff come in just as Ronald is flinging ice cream, eggs, and seltzer water into the air and onto the floor. When Ronald notices the couple, he tries to act as though he's just there enjoying a soda, much to the consternation of his boss, who promptly fires him.
Back at the college dorm, Ronald unpacks a suitcase filled with athletic manuals and equipment. The minute he finds out that his dorm mates are his rival, athletic Jeff and Jeff's buddies, the Dean enters the room and announces that he has big plans for Ronald in the studies department, and warns that he should avoid the athletic snare. But, Ronald only has Mary on his mind, so he joins the baseball team. At practice, he's the laughing
stock of the team when he wears a catcher's outfit to play third base, and then his wild errors get him ejected from the field.
As a waiter at the local cafe, Ronald wears "black face" to get the job and fit in with the hired help. Just as he's getting into the restaurant rhythm of swinging doors and snappy service, Jeff and Mary stop by for lunch and eye him suspiciously. Uneasy, Ronald crashes through a swinging kitchen door and inadvertently rubs some of the shoe polish off his face. His shocked co-workers spot his charade, grab knives and cleavers, and chase him out of the place. Undaunted, Ronald now goes out for track and field, but only manages to knock the Dean's hat off with a flying discus, hurl the shot-put at the track team, land a hole in one on the high jump, and knock down every hurdle on the track. Watching from the sidelines, Mary admires his spirit, but senses his discouragement.
Ronald explains his dilemma to the sympathetic Dean, who arranges a position for Ronald as coxswain on the rowing crew. The day of the Big Race, the rowing coach tries unsuccessfully to slip Ronald a sedative in a cup of coffee. While launching the boat "Damfino," Ronald crashes through the bottom, so "Old Iron Bottom" is commissioned for the team. Ronald saves the day when the boat's rudder falls off and he attaches it to his backside, enabling the team to win the race.
After the victory, Ronald notices that Mary isn't at the finish, so he dejectedly goes back to the locker room. Meanwhile, Jeff, expelled from Clayton, has trapped Mary in her dorm room, insisting that she marry him. A frantic phone call from Mary to the locker room, sends Ronald into a full sprint all the way to the dorm, where he lashes out at Jeff, who escapes through the window. The ruckus brings in the housemother and the Dean, who immediately expels the couple.
Ronald and Mary impulsively head for the church to marry. A few years later, Ronald and Mary are living the cozy family life, growing older together, and finally ending up together forever. — Janice Agnello