A Celebration of the Life & Times of Swarthmore’s Eleanor Kay “Pete” Hess

Eleanor Kay “Pete” Hess, Beloved Teacher, Coach, Mentor

Dear Women In Coaching Blog Readers:
On a beautiful spring day with flowers abloom more than a 100 family members, friends, and admirers gathered in the Swarthmore Friends Meeting House (Pa.) to pay tribute to Eleanor Kay “Pete” Hess, who passed away in December of 2011 at the age of 87.  For over six decades, Pete was a fixture in the women’s sport scene in the Philadelphia area. Arriving on the Swarthmore campus in 1957, she chaired the Department of Physical Education and Athletics for Women from 1965 to 1979.  After a merger of the men’s and women’s departments, she assumed the role of associate chair of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics from 1979 until her retirement in 1990.

An inductee into the Pennsylvania Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Pete served as a lacrosse official for over 30 years, teaching many to officiate along the way.  Devoted to the sport, she continued to umpire well into her 80s.

Pete’s love for her students, women’s sport, and the higher purposes of education emanated from her like a life force. Her influence was felt by those closest to her as well as untold others who benefitted from her leadership on numerous associations, boards, and organizations.


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“Be prepared to be her brains when her brains fall out of her head”: Advice On How To Be The Best Assistant Coach You Can Be

Katie Hagan, Ursinus College Head Women's Lacrosse Coach

Dear Women in Coaching Blog Readers:  In the classic television sit-com, M*A*S*H, Corporal Radar O’Reilly displayed the uncanny ability to anticipate the wishes of his superior officers before they were aware of them and set in motion all of the necessary paperwork and directives that needed to be in place in order to make things happen.  A wonder of efficiency and organization, Radar navigated the complex bureaucracy and hierarchy of the United States Army with precision and skill, unlocking access to valued resources and privileges that were otherwise untouchable.  Good in a crisis, he delivered under pressure, protecting his boss, putting out fires when conflicts arose among the ranks, and serving as a sounding board for the discouraged, scared, or frustrated.    Without knowing the context in which he worked, you could well imagine that Radar was an assistant coach.* 

            And much like Radar, assistant coaches are often the ones behind the scenes in a program, making things move along smoothly and on track, their presence felt most in their absence.  That quality of blending into a program and being a seamless extension of it may explain why there is relatively little attention paid to what it really takes to be a good assistant coach.  In the recent Centennial Conference Snell-Shillingford Symposium, Gettysburg College head softball coach Samantha Abrams and Ursinus College head women’s lacrosse coach Katie Hagan offered their insights about women making the transition from player to assistant coach.  The themes they discussed included: Continue reading