From the Archives: The Early Years of Girls Sports at SPS

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Our spring exhibit, Game On! The Early Years of Girls Sports at St. Paul’s School, debuts is our third floor display cases this week.

Having just celebrated 50 Years of Coeducation, we know that the first 19 girls arrived at St. Paul’s School in January 1971. That following September, the first full class of girls arrived for the 1971-1972 school year. They quickly adjusted to classes, dorms, and SPS community life. They also wanted to play sports!

A few significant firsts:

Elizabeth Munson ’74 was perhaps the first girl to play a sport at SPS.  In February 1971, she represented SPS in a boys Third Form squash match against Belmont Hill.  She won.

The first girls team – Field Hockey – formed in the Fall of 1971. Other teams formed that first year included Basketball, Squash, Alpine Skiing, Tennis, Crew, and Lacrosse.  More teams were added throughout the 1970’s, and the 1980’s brought Ice Hockey, Softball and Volleyball, making the girls sports program complete.


Susan Fortier was the first girls sports coach at St. Paul’s School and is credited with laying the foundation for the girls sports program at SPS.

The first article about girls sports appeared in The Pelican on October 1, 1971.  The article was titled “Female Field Hockey Has Foothold; Lively Lovelies Looking Luminous”, written by Dori Deland ’74 and Karen Sawyer ’74.

The first winner of the Loomis Medal was Deborah Sistare ’72.

The exhibit explores this early history of girls sports through team photos, memorable articles and headlines from The Pelican, game photos, and more. There are also nods to three vanished sports, as well as to a few trailblazing coaches.

Click HERE to see all of the first teams. Then come to the library for the exhibit to gain an appreciation of an unexplored aspect of coeducation and a new understanding of what it meant to be the first here at St. Paul’s School.

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