The Sun Club and the Dial Club (pictured in 1942) were established at Walker's. These spirit clubs performed against each other in gymkhanas, as well as at other athletics and recreational events.
Dancing was a formal part of a Walker's girl's education from the school's earliest days. At Lakewood, students were instructed by Misses Darling and Miner. Miss Darling trained the girls for special dances in connection with our May Day and dramatic performances.
Alumna Ethel Andrews Harlan '15, who had some influence over school athletic uniforms, became the School's first athletic director in 1917. "The first thing on my agenda turned out to be hockey," she said.
The riding program began to flourish when the School moved to its Simsbury location in 1917. Here, alumna and rider Henrietta Davis '18 poses with her horse in the picturesque woods that surround campus.
In 1920, the Suns and Dials started a new tradition of competing circuses. Within the privacy of their own campus, the students performed acrobatics and simple stunts, much to the amusement of their peers and the members of faculty, staff, and administration.
In 1921, the field hockey team and the track squad were introduced. Other early sports included basketball (pictured), riding, and tennis.
The Ethel Walker School Athletic Council was formed in the first decade of the school (1911-1921) and has had a variety of names including the Athletic Association in the early 1980s. To this day EWAC is still responsible for generating enthusiasm around athletics.
Nancy Van Voorhees ‘24 was a remarkable athlete who, at the age of 15 and while a student at Walker’s, was selected to participate on the first Women’s Olympic Track Team.
In late 1929, the school finished construction on the John Henderson Indoor Riding Ring. John Henderson was a long-time riding instructor at the school. The first indoor horse show (later called the Winter Horse Show) was held in February 1930.
In 1932, the first athletics award, the Margaret Mallory Cup, was announced at that year's commencement exercises to Jean McClelland. The award was created to recognize "the new girl whose spirit in work, conduct, and athletics has been most distinguished."
The Walker's varsity athletic teams received their first formal uniforms in 1942. In the same year, Walker's joined the newly formed New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).
Walker's first alumna faculty member, Mabel "Mabsie" Walker '30 helped to form a ski club in 1935. Today, Walker’s ski program competes in the Class “B” Western New England Prep School League (NEPSAC) as well as the Brigham Ski League (BSL).
Word of Walker's quality athletic facilities and playing fields led the International Federation of Women’s Field Hockey to petition Walker’s for the use of its fields for the annual IFWFH tournament. As a result, the school gained notoriety for its own hockey program.
While the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) began in 1942, it wasn’t until the 1970s that girls’ schools were granted membership and girls’ athletics became a regular part of the Council’s annual agendas. Title IX was signed into law in 1972.
Walker’s was part of the original Founders League membership in 1981, and the league officially began in 1984. Walker’s left the League for a time, along with some of our sister schools, to create more flexibility in opponents and contests across different programs.
Walker’s found much success in the Girls’ School League, with championships in field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse throughout the 1990s.
The early 2000s showed a boom of new sports added to the athletic program. Squash and competitive swimming were two recent additions as the popularity of these sports rose in New England.
Since its inception, the riding program has continued to be a cornerstone of The Ethel Walker School.
Walker’s returned to the Founders League in 2008, as the school’s teams became more competitive and more prominent within the interscholastic leagues. Walker’s also found much success as a member of the Connecticut Independent School Athletic Conference (CISAC).
As Walker’s achieved a higher competitive profile, turf fields were added and in a community-wide spirit of pride and purpose, the Centennial Center opened in 2016 to welcome another 100 years of Walker’s athletes.