Monday, September 29, 2008

Hockey at The Governor's Academy

Team hockey has been a part of athletic life at The Governor’s Academy (TGA) since the first “ice polo” team was formed in 1895, but its level of sophistication has grown exponentially since the early years of pond skating at the academy. Early hockey play at the academy was predicated on favorable weather, leaving hockey squads to come up with creative dry-land practice drills when the temperature climbed. Even in freezing weather, skating facilities through the 1950s were decidedly low-tech.

With the construction of The Frank J. Frost Memorial Hockey Rink in 1960, TGA was the first in the Independent School Hockey League to have an outdoor artificial rink. Nearly 11 miles of welded and brine-infused pipe went into the construction of the Frost Rink. This technical advancement was lauded in Contact: New England Electric System magazine: “No longer will the skating and hockey enthusiasts have to depend on neighboring ponds and the fickleness of winter weather. The whole school’s athletic program may now be tightened up for the winter term without the confusion or disruption because of no ice. The once overtaxed gymnasium no more will be called upon to house frustrated hockey squads. And most important the rink will mean a significant upturn in the calibre [sic] of Academy hockey, allowing the school to become more competitive with other rivals in this sport, as it has been with much success in all others.”

In 1982, the Frost Rink was transformed into the Murphy-Frost arena with the addition of a protective enclosure. The new structure was named for A. Macdonald Murphy, longtime English instructor, hockey coach, and Athletic Director at the academy, and Morris Pratt Frost ’35, Trustee Emeritus for the academy and benefactor.

Hockey’s profile has been decidedly elevated with last year’s completion of the Whiston-Bragdon Arena, a state-of-the art skating facility. The new arena is named for former GDA headmaster Peter Bragdon and Mark Whiston, benefactor and Academy Trustee. Whiston played Byfield Youth Hockey as a child, moving on to the Kent School and Harvard University, where he was a starting goaltender for the hockey team. Mark follows in the footsteps of his father, Don, a goaltender for the Silver Medal-winning United States Olympic Hockey Team in 1952.

TGA’s boys and girls hockey teams will begin their 2008-2009 season in the Whiston-Bragdon Arena after Thanksgiving Break.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Refreshing History at The Governor’s Academy

The Archives holds one of the earliest documents produced at the academy: A Catalog of Dummer School, a handwritten roster of the academy’s students between 1763 and 1830. Currently on display in the Pescosolido Library, A Catalog of Dummer School was begun by Joseph Mottey, a teacher at the academy between 1780 and 1783, and lists the names of numerous alumni who went on to significant achievement after leaving the Little Red School House. With a nod to the past and view toward posterity, Headmaster Marty Doggett and Dean of Freshmen Michael Delay recently summonsed members of the incoming Class of 2012 to the Little Red School House to document these students’ entry into the academy. Outside the Little Red School House, Mr. Doggett shared a bit of the history of the building and the academy with students (Images 1 and 2). Then, one by one, students entered the school house, shaking hands with the Headmaster and introducing themselves before sitting in the Reverend Samuel Moody’s chair to sign their names and hometowns in a leather-bound book (Images 3 and 4). Students then departed the school house, shaking hands with Mr. Delay (Image 5). The leather-bound book will be housed in The Governor’s Academy Archives. When the Class of 2012 graduates, its members will again pass, one by one, through the Little Red School House on their way around the Milestone to jump the wall. This ritual allows students to pay homage to the school’s long history, and importantly, to recognize their own contributions to it. It is hoped that this new practice will become an enduring Governor’s Academy tradition.