Andover and Abbot Athletics in The 1950s

Abbot Academy offered a variety of sports for female students in 1956. However, Title IX, a federal law that prohibited sex discrimination in educational programs, had not been passed yet. This meant that Abbot teams were not allowed to play competitively.

Sports offered by Abbot Academy included archery, cheer, fencing, skiing, ping pong, and badminton, many of which are not offered at Andover today. As of 1965, teams were not allowed to compete competitively, so Abbot Academy divided its student body into two teams for intramural sports: the Gargoyles and Griffins. In their Junior years, a students would be initiated into one of these two teams in which they would remain for the rest of their Abbot careers. Sports remained intramural until 1972, when Title IX went into effect, allowing female students to participate in competitive physical activity.

Andover offered competitive sports for male students in 1956. These included baseball, which was the first team sport at Andover, along with football, soccer, cross country, basketball, hockey, swimming, winter track, skiing, squash, wrestling, boxing, sprint track, lacrosse, tennis, golf, and crew. Sports at Andover were more intense and competitive, as the school’s reputation was on the line when they competed against schools like Tabor, Phillips Exeter Academy, and sometimes even Harvard University.

Football was one of Andover’s first and most popular sports. Drawing in players and spectators alike, the sport mainly consisted of two teams from different schools, Exeter being the first that was played in a game. In the 1950s, all Junior Varsity teams were assembled based on age, weight, and experience.

One of the more popular sports at Abbot Academy in the 1950s was fencing. Though just be- ginning its legacy at the institution, many young women, as stated in the 1951 Abbot Academy yearbook, “eagerly tried [their] skill at Abbot’s new sport, fencing, feeling quite dashing in white jackets and masks.” Students wishing to fence were taught the correct ways to hold weaponry and skillfully defeat opponents.

Although still a prominent multi-seasonal sport on campus today, crew’s reputation at Andover has fluctuated over the years. Around the turn of the century, the sport lost popularity at the Academy. However, crew regained its fame on campus during the 1955-1956 school year when 107 boys signed up for the spring season, which led to Fall Crew becoming an annual sport. Pictured above is a boat from the 1956 spring crew season, which took second place at the Interscholastic Race in Worcester.

Much like at Andover today, Andover-Exeter competitions in the 1950s were a time for Andover students to take a break from their studies and compete against Exeter. Andover’s success in Track was greatly measured through these competitions, as most other meets during their season were against college freshman teams. These competitions helped the team, as some may say, “Wreck The Ex.”