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Celebrating Girls Athletics During Women’s History Month 

In honor of Women’s History Month, an exhibit recently installed in the Scanlan Campus Center celebrates girls athletics at Loomis Chaffee through the years. 

The seven alumnae featured in the installation are just a few of many who have led the way for future Pelicans to, as the exhibit says, “excel as students, athletes, and leaders, on the Island and beyond.” The exhibit was created by the Athletics Department. 

Today Loomis Chaffee fields 30 interscholastic girls teams in 16 sports, including co-ed teams in equestrian and skiing. In the past 10 years alone, girls teams have won 39 Founders League championships and 14 New England championships.  

The quote in the display for lacrosse player Johanna Deans Martell ’95 reads: “Athletics has informed my work ethic, my standards for high quality work, and my ability to push myself out of my comfort zone.” 

Gretchen Ulion Silverman ’90 is quoted in the exhibit as saying that her “life was forever altered” by playing her sport of choice, ice hockey. A banner with her name hangs in Savage/Johnson Rink on the LC campus. 

Gretchen helped lead the U.S. to a gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the 1998 Winter Olympics, the first time the sport was played in the Olympics. Gretchen was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year at Dartmouth, where she set 11 school records. She was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and now coaches at Post University in Connecticut. 

Having grown up in Marlborough and attended Loomis Chaffee, she was asked to file occasional journals through Hartford Courant Olympic writer Tommy Hine from the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. 

Looking back at some of those dispatches: 

Opening Ceremonies: She said one of the greatest highlights of her life to that point was walking in the Opening Ceremonies. “Struck by the magnitude of the event. It was spectacular,” she wrote. She said she got choked up listening to people from all over the world singing “Ode to Joy.” She also wrote about heart-warming interactions with Japanese people.  

A few days before the U.S.-Canada gold-medal game: Gretchen was able to spend some time with her then-fiancé, Steven Silverman. They visited a temple and watched as Japanese people “tossed coins into a large wooden box before folding their hands to pray. We weren’t sure if they would be offended by us partaking in their ritual, so when not too many people were around, Steve tossed some coins into the box, and I said a quick prayer for a gold medal. I know we can win it on our own, but a little help from the gods can’t hurt.” She scored the game’s first goal and assisted on the game-winner as the United States beat Canada 3-1. 

After winning the gold medal: “It’s hard to describe exactly how it feels to win a gold medal. A kindergarten student asked me that question in an email and this is how I described it: 

“It feels like a million butterflies bouncing around in your stomach and suddenly they all go free, and you just watch them fly away in all their beauty and you feel really happy.” 

She closed that dispatch with, “I will truly miss the thrill of the competition, but I hope that we’ve helped to inspire female Olympians of future years.” 

Twenty-six years later, honoring and inspiring female athletes is what the exhibit in the Scanlan Center is all about. Dream big.  

As Gretchen once told The Courant: “Never did I dream women’s hockey would be in the Olympics, let alone [that I would] be part of it.” 

The rest of the list of accomplished, inspirational athletes: 

Judy Parish Oberting ’87 

Judy earned 12 varsity letters in soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse. She went on to excel at Dartmouth College in ice hockey and lacrosse. In 2022, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine recognized Judy as one of Dartmouth’s 100 greatest athletes of all time. She also won 114 games in five seasons as head coach of the Dartmouth women’s ice hockey team and was National Coach of the Year in 2000. 

Johanna Deans Martell ’95 

Johanna achieved much success in lacrosse at Loomis Chaffee and Princeton University, where she was a second-team All-American and two-time Ivy League champion. After graduating from Princeton in 1999, she earned a law degree cum laude from Georgetown University. She is co-director of Sustainable Westport, which seeks to make that Connecticut town a net-zero community by 2050.  

Lizzy Boyle Antonick ’99 

Lizzy was one of the most successful swimmers in program history. At the University of Massachusetts, she has some of the all-time best times in multiple events. In 2002, Lizzy began rowing as a member of the UMass novice four that went 40-1 and captured multiple titles. She went on to become an assistant rowing coach at UMass and assistant athletic director and head coach of the boys swimming and diving team at Nobles & Greenough. She currently works with her husband in their real estate business, Oak Development & Design. 

Heather Hathorn Driscoll ’02 

Heather came to Loomis in her junior year and scored 23 goals in two seasons with the girls soccer team, a team she helped lead to New England championships in 2001 and 2002. At the University of Maine, she continued to excel in the sport and helped that team to two America East titles. She holds school records in career goals (35) and total points (84). After graduating from college, she coached on the Island, at the University of California Irvine, and at Stony Brook University. She continues to grow the game as a coach for the Next Level Soccer Academy.      

Maxine Offiaeli ’14 

Maxine was three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball, and track and field. As a junior at Loomis she captured an individual New England Prep School Track Association championship in the shot put. She entered Brown University as a member of the basketball program before returning to track & field during her sophomore year. Maxine works at ESPN in the company’s live event production department. 

Emma Trenchard ’17 

Emma was a four-year varsity letter winner in girls basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. She captained all three teams and received Loomis Chaffee’s top female athlete award as a junior and senior. Emma went on to play lacrosse as a defender on the University of North Carolina women’s team. She was named the 2019 ACC Defender of the Year and earned three Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association first-team All-American honors. In 2022, she helped the Tar Heels defeat Boston College for the national championship. She also has played professionally. Emma works at Jain Global in New York City. 

  

 

 

 

 


 

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