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Memories of SSU

Lisa Beckett

Student, Physical Education
1975-1979

Memories of Sonoma State College

After I applied to Sonoma State College, I wrote a letter to SSC asking about the sport offerings for women. I received a note from Dr. Martha Yates, telling me that there were many opportunities for women, and that I could even play a different sport every season if I so desired.  I decided to attend SSC in the fall of 1975.

My sister drove me to college. After we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, I knew we were getting close. Then, I saw the sign that read “East Cotati Ave.” and “Sonoma State College.” As we entered, I panicked at the site of the rural surroundings. It was the middle of nowhere. All I saw in between the highway and the college was a variety store and a Speedy Mart. The living arrangements were progressive. I was assigned to a 9-person suite with 4 girls downstairs and 5 boys upstairs. The downstairs was comprised of a living room, two doubles and a bathroom. My roommate (Lorelei DeBenedetti) was from Corte Madera and she smoked Marlboros and drank Bud. She had trouble getting to her 8 a.m. classes and she played varsity softball. She was a good friend to me and I still send her Christmas cards. My neighbor (Denice Tucker) was from Carlsbad, and we ended up playing different sports together over the next four years – we are still good friends. We had fun in the residence halls and formed strong friendships.

The P.E./Athletic Department was beautiful. We had two gyms – the big new gym and the field house – and 12 gorgeous tennis courts with a view of the Sonoma County hillside – and a softball field tucked to the south of the field house. I first met Vivian Fritz (pedagogy and volleyball coach) and Martha Yates (women’s A.D., exercise physiology and tennis coach). These two have been my mentors and friends ever since.  I owe very much to them. They taught me how to teach, coach and mentor.  They helped me grow, mature and build confidence.

I will never forget the first day of volleyball practice, when Coach Vivian came up to me and told me that I had made the “A” (varsity) team. What a thrill! I played volleyball for Vivian for four years. In the 80s I came back and assisted her in volleyball and tennis and shared an office with her.

Martha Yates taught an exercise physiology lab in the afternoons so we had tennis practice from 11am to 1pm. It allowed me to play softball for Kathy Klein (motor learning and softball coach) and attend practice from 4 to 6 p.m. I played four years of tennis and three years of softball. I still play tennis today—and even play with my college tennis doubles partner, Linda Cary.

I even played a season of basketball with Marcia Hart – and enjoyed a season of track and field with Bob Lynde. I enrolled in 13 analyses of motor skill classes as well as the science and humanities classes required for PE majors. I took classes from all my coaches, and also from Jim Gale, Doug Earl, Ken Flynn, and Bob Sorani. I participated in numerous fun intramural events run by Mike Dale. I was educated to be a generalist in physical education – someone who could teach and coach a variety of sports. My education has served me well over the last 28 years of teaching, coaching and administrating.

 The Department of Physical Education and Athletics was a special place and I was fortunate to be there during a special time. A cohesive group of us worked our way through the PE major program, all the while playing sports and flourishing under the expert tutelage and care of very knowledgeable and dedicated PE/Athletic educators.

In 1978, with Martha Yates as an advisor, a group of student athletes crafted a charter for a new organization – the Associated Athletes of Sonoma State University (AASSU). The purpose of the organization was to provide social activities for student athletes, promote school and athletic spirit, and provide a voice for the student athletes. Activities included making membership cards and t-shirts for all student athletes and organizing social gatherings, like a faculty/staff/student softball game and picnic. I served as the first president of the AASSU, but the real mover was our secretary, Ann Espinoza. Cheryl Brown, the equipment manager on the women’s side, let us screen t-shirts in the issue room! As I recall, Deo Deneau worked for Cheryl and made the majority of the t-shirts.

I also took general education classes in Stevenson and Darwin Halls. I loved the bacon and egg sculpture. We often met for study sessions in the old library. I also spent time at the duck pond with the aggressive ducks. I loved the physical beauty and intimate nature of the campus. It was friendly, relaxed and nurturing.

When we graduated, the Physical Education/Athletic faculty made breakfast for the PE graduates and their families. They served it out of the concessions stand, and we ate in the courtyard. My parents were so impressed with the close relationships I had made with my teachers/coaches. I received two wonderful honors. I was named the 78-79 MVP and also graduated with distinction in Physical Education. The PE/Athletic Department gave both awards and I felt tremendously honored. I still have my MVP plaque. SSU provided me with the most wonderful education, a safe place to grow up, and outstanding mentors. I will always be thankful.