A Look into the Archives: The Lost Sports of Loomis


Photo by Ethan Song '24

The Farmington River, where the LC rowing team used to practice, can be seen in this photo.

Ethan Song '24, Contributor

Over the course of Loomis Chaffee’s rich 107 year athletic history, a number of sports have come and gone. Wrestling faced the chopping block in the 2021-2022 school year, and rowing will face the same fate in the next. Wrestling has been a staple of Loomis sports for decades, with athletes grappling on the mat since the early 30’s. Rowing, however, has hardly been mentioned in the school’s extensive archives, suggesting a rather minor role in the school’s athletic history.

Among the minor sports were fencing (in the 30s), cheer (in the 30s-40s), boxing, and gym (along with the omnipresent-yet-mysterious “gym squad”). Interestingly enough, tennis and cross-country—both of which now boast varsity teams—were once considered far inferior to the still hugely-popular “major” sports: football, baseball, and hockey. No varsity teams existed for either at the time.

Rifling was also among the interscholastic sports played at the school, with records dating back to the 1930s. It’s currently unclear when the sport was chopped, but mentions fizzled out in the 60s. A barbell team, which is assumedly similar to competitive weightlifting, was also mentioned several times in yearbooks published throughout the 40s.

School chants & songs were performed at every game, with each being required for freshmen to memorize. Showing up to games was also briefly mandatory; after its (assumed) unpopularity, attendance was reduced to a mere “strongly encouraged.” Though we do have our own athletic chant now, it could perhaps be interesting to bring them back. There does exist a certain je ne sais quoi that makes old songs and chants invigorating to hear.

Interestingly enough, interscholastic sports were suspended during World War II, as gas and rubber tires for buses were rationed for the war effort. Loomis experienced a boom of intramural athletics, with a number of new sports (mentioned earlier) being played.

Avid gym-rats will be thankful to know that gym dues are no longer required, as was the case in the 20’s. The gym membership also allowed aspiring athletes to try out for interscholastic teams. It is likely that the fee was instituted to simply raise money for the then-new school.

Though rowing has had a “stormy” relationship with the Loomis Chaffee athletic department for many years, the school is also no stranger to water sports. Some students in the 30s enjoyed the comfort of club yachting, while others preferred the rush of competitive sailing. Where they sailed is still unknown, as well as the popularity of the sport.