Big Red legends share memories of girls athletics

“Her Voice in Athletics” assembly celebrates 50 years of coeducation.

Brian Muldoon
February 24, 2021
Phillips Exeter Academy coeducation

Love Gym was not built for girls. The Saltonstall Boathouse janitor’s closet was turned into a makeshift locker room. The physical athletics facilities may not have been ready for a new era, but Big Red spirit grew quickly among the first girls to storm the courts, fields and waters here on campus.

Exonians were joined at assembly recently by four Big Red legends — two pioneering faculty members and two alumnae — who helped build the foundation of girls athletics on campus. Susan Herney, Linda Lanton ’74, Anne Marden ’76 and Kathy Nekton described their impacts, challenges and successes as they helped pave the way for Big Red girls sports.

While the athletics facilities often served as a symbol of inequality, they barely slowed momentum as programs such as field hockey, girls basketball, track and gymnastics quickly formed in the first years of coeducation. Those teams provided the pillars for today’s Big Red teams.

“I remember that first varsity basketball experience as being one of tremendous camaraderie,” said Lanton, who will remain forever in the record books by scoring the first point in Exeter girls basketball history. “There was excitement and phenomenal bonding between my teammates and my coach. It was tremendous fun. We didn’t all come with equal skills, but we came with equal excitement and willingness to try.”

Watch the panel of trailblazers describe their experiences in athletics at Exeter and beyond, moderated by Tommy Gannon ’21:

Assembly: Her Voice in Athletics from Phillips Exeter Academy on Vimeo.


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