“The Den” Previously Named For Former Soccer Coach Ryley

Most students at Andover still remember when the Den was called the Ryley Room. But they would have to go back a generation or two to find Andover students who remember its namesake. James Ryley was well-loved by students and faculty alike on campus when he worked at Andover, according to Ruth Quattlebaum, School Archivist. Quattlebaum said that Ryley was Andover’s boys soccer coach from 1912 to 1946 and a member of the Office of Physical Plant. “[Ryley] was a beloved coach, and there’s a lot of affection for coaches. He was also one of the Commons workers and custodial staff on campus that people just love,” said Quattlebaum. “He wasn’t like a teacher, where there is an unequal power relationship. It was a much more level playing field with someone like [Ryley,]” she continued. Before it was called the Ryley Room, the student hangout center on campus was an unnamed room in Commons. The room was built in 1930 in Commons, and five years later, Andover’s Board of Trustees voted that it be turned into a smoking and lounge room for Uppers and Seniors. After Ryley’s death on December 24, 1946, the school administration decided to name the room after Ryley in memoriam, according to Quattlebaum. “All the kids knew [Ryley]. He was very outgoing, and he was somebody that people, particularly students, felt comfortable with. He had contact with not only the soccer kids, but a broad range of students through his other responsibilities,” said Quattlebaum. “There used to be a plaque with [Ryley’s] picture in the Ryley room that disappeared at some point. Nobody knows where it went. The Ryley Room fell out of use at some point in the ’60s and ’70s and it must have disappeared sometime during that era,” said Quattlebaum. Now, with a newly renovated Commons, the Ryley Room will undergo a name change. Before Commons reopened this spring, the school temporarily renamed the Ryley Room to “The Den.” Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, said, “Changing [the name] from Ryley Room to a neutral name is a way to make it more attractive to someone who may be tempted to give money to the school for that building.” School administrators are still waiting for a donor to give the necessary funds and choose the official name for the Den. Murphy said the neutral name is more attractive to donors, who may be more reluctant to rename an already-named room. Alexandra Carr, Manager of Retail Operations and the person in charge of the Den, said, “People are still calling it the Ryley Room. That’s going to happen until they get used to [calling it the Den]. A couple of students have told me they don’t want to call it the Den at all.” Cindy Efinger, Director of Student Activities, said that she believes while students are not used to the new name now, the campus will make the switch to the Den eventually. “Old habits are hard to break. I think students are slowly starting to call it the Den. The older students who have been here longer find it harder to break that habit [of calling it the ‘Ryley Room’], but I think eventually we’ll all call it the Den and feel much more comfortable doing so,” said Efinger. Riley Gardner ’10 is amongst the students unhappy with the change of name. “During my three years at Andover, I’ve always known the Ryley Room by that name. For me to change what I call it now would be pointless,” said Gardner. “I feel like it’s an Andover tradition that shouldn’t be changed.” Kristina Ballard ’11, however, said that she does not mind calling the room the Den “I wasn’t here long enough [before Commons closed] to build that much affection for [the Den] when it was called Ryley Room, so I don’t really feel any tie to the name [Ryley,]” Ballard said. Julian Danziger ’11 agrees with Gardner. “I don’t enjoy calling it the Den because I was used to calling it Ryley,” he said. Even some Juniors, will still call the Den the “Ryley Room.” “I call it the Ryley Room because that’s all I’ve heard it was called. The Den came really late in the year. Everyone was talking about the Ryley Room since the fall,” said Kennedy Edmonds ’12.