What's in a name? 63 years of love Goucher: 93-year-old Josephine E. Fiske -- who has devoted more than six decades to the athletic program -- will become a permanent part of school history today when an athletic field is named in her honor.

June 13, 1998|By Eduardo A. Encina | Eduardo A. Encina,SUN STAFF

Goucher College physical education professor Josephine E. Fiske walks two hours each morning. She plays tennis and swims daily, weather permitting. She has been seen walking up York Road two miles to work in the snow.

Sounds like a usual routine for a physical education teacher, but not necessarily when you are 93 years old, as is Fiske.

Today, Goucher will honor Fiske -- "Jo," as she is called by friends and colleagues -- by naming one of the college's lacrosse and field hockey fields after her.

"I'll enjoy every moment of it, but to me, it will be just another day," said Fiske, who continues to teach part-time at the school.

Fiske has spent 63 years at Goucher, teaching classes in tennis, archery, badminton and swimming. She has coached Goucher's field hockey and lacrosse teams. She was a certified referee for nearly 50 years. She also has been -- and continues to be -- the unofficial head groundskeeper of the sports fields.

Fiske joined the Goucher staff in the fall of 1929 as an assistant in the physical education department, long before Goucher went co-ed and long before the school was relocated to Towson.

When Fiske first came to Goucher, the college was on 23rd Street between St. Paul Street and Maryland Avenue. She worked her way up to chairman of the department before retiring in 1970. But she returned to teach part-time in 1976 and hasn't left.

Fiske also has been a nationally rated referee in field hockey and basketball. When she was 73, she earned her officiating rating in lacrosse and worked games until 1991.

"I think that she's been a remarkable example of dedication to athletics," said Nancy Chance, a former Goucher physical education faculty member. "She is someone who spends countless hours working, going above and beyond."

This past spring, Fiske taught an archery class of eight students.

"I couldn't believe that response she gets from her students," said Joan Salmon, former Goucher physical education director. "You have to appreciate how the students listen to her."

"She was very direct with you," said Anne Kellerman, whom Fiske taught and coached in field hockey and lacrosse from 1979 to 1983. "If you did something wrong, she would definitely tell you you did it wrong, but she would have a way to make you better and it worked."

Fiske said, "I just love the contact with the young people. Things are a lot different than during my time in the '30s and '40s. I like to give them something they can take with them when they graduate -- how they can continue to keep moving and remain active."

To Fiske's colleagues at Goucher, her durability is unbelievable.

"She is just remarkable," Chance said. "I have to run every other step to keep up with her."

"In the old days, very few females participated in active sports," said Fiske, a former president of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sports. "Tennis was very popular among women and so was golf a little, but not too many females played lacrosse and field hockey."

Said Kellerman, 36: "She was just absolutely immersed in the life of the athlete. It was all she was interested in. She lived it and breathed it. She was very consumed with it and very happy about that."

On May 24, Fiske was awarded the U.S. Women's Lacrosse Association Umpiring Service Award. Salmon, 39, who is also now a lacrosse official, presented her with the award.

"She's been instrumental at Goucher and in the hockey and lacrosse community," Salmon said. "She's done so much, both as a teacher and with the efficiency of the field. When I was athletic director and I heard the women's national lacrosse tournament was coming, I was worried about the field. But people just told me Jo would take care of it, and she did."

Even though not in her job description, Fiske still can often be found at Goucher's lacrosse and field hockey field, making sure that the grass is cut and the lines are on, something she has done since her department director days.

"Whenever anybody needed the facilities, Jo would offer the field and be out there making sure everything was perfect. That's just the way she is," Salmon said.

It is fitting that field will now be called Fiske Field.

Pub Date: 6/13/98

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