Monday, June 21, 2010

In Their Own Words -- Dr. Lee Meserve Part 3

Dr. Lee Meserve has just about seen it all. With 37 years at Bowling Green, he's seen more athletic events than almost anyone. As the Faculty Athletics Representative at BGSU, he represents the department in a variety of ways. This is his third blog post on his memories of BG athletics.

To the Present Day

In the fall of 1994, Shelley Appelbaum returned to BGSU as Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator. Shelley was a “townie” who had taken my anatomy and physiology course as part of her undergraduate degree program. During those years, she had also worked summers at Forrest Creason Golf Course on campus, where I saw her on a regular basis. We kept in touch through her careers as BG Junior High Girls Basketball Coach and on to Director of Student-Athlete Academics at the University of Toledo. She contacted me upon return to BGSU and asked “Have you ever thought of running for the Faculty Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee?” Long story short, I became a member, and then Chair of that committee, and then, when my predecessor Marv Kumler decided to retire, Dr. Sidney Ribeau appointed me Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR), beginning summer, 1997. Thus began what has turned into a 13-year quest to attend every home contest of every BGSU sport that is staged when we are in Bowling Green (usually accompanied by my wife Marge). We have missed a few because of overlapping contest schedules, but not many for other reasons, and we’ve traveled to a few away ones, as well. It has been my feeling that as FAR, if I expected the student-athletes to perform well in the classroom (and I did, and they do), it behooved me to come out and watch them perform in their sports venues.

An early new sport for us as spectators was soccer. When I was in graduate school at Rutgers University (before I was married, so that was a while ago) I was shanghaied by a group of the other students in the lab where I worked to attend a pro soccer match in Yankee Stadium (the old one). Knowing virtually nothing about the game, I thought that watching it, even in person, was a lot like watching paint dry, but less exciting! About the time I began the elevated level of interaction with BGSU athletics, women’s soccer was added to the roster of sports. A number of the members of the team were also students in my Anat and Phys course (are you detecting that connection?), so we were motivated to go watch them, as well as the men’s team, play this game. I still knew virtually nothing about the game, but that year my Christmas gifts from Marge included a book by Mia Hamm (always start with the best), and Soccer for Dummies. I finally got a grasp on off side (they still need a blue line on the pitch!), and defensive plays. We’ve had the excitement of seeing two of Andy Richards’ squads win MAC championships. Although men’s soccer has been through a bit of a rough patch, Eric Nichols has them going in the right direction. I can honestly say that we have set through a more diverse sets of meteorological conditions as soccer fans than for any other sport! Marge appreciates soccer because the clock starts at the beginning of the match, and when it runs out the match is over (usually). She likes a finite sport!

A second sport that we sort of adopted is softball. We broke our streak of making spring break trips about eight years in a row this past March because the team had no trip during the break itself. We made up for that toward the end of the season by traveling an away weekend with them to Ball State and Miami. Since it was not their most successful of away swings, they may not ask us to do that again! :-) There have been a number of softballers who have been my academic advisees. A couple who stand out are third baseman Lynsey Ebel (now Lynsey Ebel, D.O.) and current centerfielder Lindsay Arney, who will be attending pharmacy school after the coming academic year, her senior year. On behalf of the Department of Athletics, the softball program paid the ultimate complement to Marge and I at homecoming 2008 by naming their facility the Meserve Softball Field. The hair on my arms still stands up every time I think of that.

Running, jumping, throwing heavy things! Since my high school in southern Maine was a relatively small one, we didn’t have football, so our ‘big’ sport was track and field. We also had cross country. Since the body in which I find myself trapped has never done any running (!), I didn’t take part in either, but I always enjoyed watching members of those teams aspire “to boldly go (you’re splitting an infinitive, Captain Kirk!!) where no one has gone before.” It’s been my pleasure to see Stephanie Heldt set an indoor record for the high jump, and just this year see Sabrina Forstein set a new mark in the indoor pole vault. Being a spectator at cross country in Maine worked like this: You stood at the start line yelling and hollering until the gun was fired. The runners ran off into the woods for ten to fifteen minutes while you stood by the finish line. Then the runners came out of the woods to cross the finish line and throw up! It’s really a pleasure to watch cross country from the top of Mount Jerome where you can see nearly all of the entire race without moving. Additionally, the runners come close to you as they run over the Mount.

Not to slight the golf teams, tennis, and swimming. We love to watch them too and get out to their sites as often as possible. We even attend the swimming biathlon at the beginning of their season every year. I thought ‘biathlon’ consisted of cross country skiing and shooting, and wondered how that would be adapted for life in the pool. I learned that in the swimming lexicon it consists of swimming and running (the latter part of which might as well involve cross country skis, according to the swimmers!).

To wrap this up, I’ve been blessed to work with a great bunch of coaches over the past 13 years who really respect and support the ‘student’ portion of the student-athlete couplet. Without their concern for and attention to the academic sector of it all, our women’s sports would not have received the MAC Faculty Athletics Representatives Academic Award for Women this past year, and 420 student-athletes would not have completed spring semester 2010 with an overall accumulative grade point average of 3.07! Keep up the good work coaches, and I really would like to work with you another 13 years (more realistically, we’ll try for seven more to get to a total of 20).

My stock line is that Marge and I don’t have any kids of our own, so we borrow other people’s and then we give them back! Many of them have been BGSU graduate students, more have been BGSU undergraduates, and a goodly number have been student-athletes. And many of them retain a connection when we give them back. For example, we have attended many student-athlete weddings, last summer one between a gymnast and a football player. We had the pleasure of seeing Stephanie Swiger, volleyball, at the NCAA National Convention in Nashville when she was part of the National Student Athlete Advisory Committee (NAT SAAC), and then of writing a letter of reference for her successful application to law school. Of all the medical school aspirants I’ve advised, the only one to honor me by asking me to bestow the hood emblematic of the MD degree at graduation (from the MCO in Toledo) was another volleyballer, Marin (Ferlic) Wayner. If you’ve been following this entire string, you recall Ton Shehab (football). We hear annually (many years, several times) from Tom and Jos and their family. Thanks to you all. You have been and continue to ne, the greatest family in the world.

And finally a shout out to my dear friend Janna Blais. Janna and I spent over ten good yeas together before she moved on to bigger things. As long as there’s email, we’ll remain in contact as a mutual support team. And to my life partner of 42 years this fall, Marge, for accepting and participating in this life.

So that’s it up to now. There may be more blogs, but not soon. Hope that these three have not cured anyone’s insomnia! Keep rolling along!!


P.S. So, you’re probably wondering how I could have been here for the past decade and omit basketball!!! Chalk it up to trying to get a research poster ready to go and getting ready to get on the big bird to San Diego for the Annual Endocrine Society meeting where the research was presented. Believe it or not, about an hour out of Detroit headed west, I sat bolt upright in my seat on the plane and said to myself “Oh crud, I didn’t include anything on basketball!” Of course I remember basketball. I chatted with Curt Miller when he came on his job interview and could sense the passion and the vision. And it took only a year for him and his staff to begin realizing that vision. Six-peating as MAC regular season champions and making it to the Sweet Sixteen are hichlights, and Marge and I were able to attend four of the NCAA ‘dance’ games. What a thrill. And it makes us all proud that Curt has maintained the staff that he began with, plus a couple of additions, for the entire sweet, sweet run. Keep it rolling women’s b-ballers! And the men’s team has made some steps in the right direction under Coach Orr (who I also chatted with at interview time), a trend that we expect to continue during the year to Close the Doors on the House that Roars and begin a new set of roaring traditions at the Stroh.