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Coach Chris and Her Greyhounds

Coach Chris and Her Greyhounds

December 14, 2017

In the 60s women played half-court basketball because full court was considered too strenuous, but lacrosse players wore no protective gear. Student-athlete Christina Grigg Martin '67 was a smoker, and Nancy McKinley Hawkins '69 played multiple sports but didn’t tell her parents, who disapproved of women’s sports. These were just a few of the recollections shared among the 17 student-athlete alumnae who gathered in the HUB on November 10 at a luncheon in honor of their coach of 50 years ago, Chris Wytock Jackson.

Jackson joined the Moravian athletics department in 1963, fresh from college, to coach all of Moravian’s women’s sports—field hockey, basketball, and tennis—and to teach PE. Moravian also asked her to oversee the annual Maypole Dance.  “I said, ‘I don’t do Maypole Dances. You will need to find someone else.’” And so ended that spring tradition.

What Jackson did do was, you might say, a little revolutionary. She advanced women’s athletics and women athletes at Moravian College. She established the first women’s lacrosse team and brought many women into team sports who had never played before. Several alumnae chimed in about the time Jackson drove them to a field hockey camp in Meersted, Maine, where, interestingly, some students learned to play lacrosse for the first time.

It was one of many road trips that Jackson led, including several that involved overnight camping and cooking over open fires. “Do you remember Coach’s canoe trips?” asked Myra Heimbrook Jones over dessert.

“The college had canoes,” said Jackson, “so I thought we should use them.”

“On the Delaware,” added Peggy Bartholomew Melchoir '68.

“There seemed to be a lot of rocks,” Jones recalled with a laugh.

Of course, there were the bus rides to away games.  “Judy would play her guitar…. We always sang on the bus,” said Jackson, who believed that sport should combine effort with enjoyment: “We tried as hard as we could, but we were out there to have fun.”

“Remember how after a game we would all splash our stinking bodies with Jean Naté, so we could go into the HUB and have dinner?” Jones read from an e-mail sent by lacrosse player Dottie Thomas Wait ’67.

Laughter erupted throughout the room.

“We tried as hard as we could, but we were out there to have fun.”

—Coach Chris Wytock Jackson

Jackson enjoyed creating new opportunities, and she loved making new athletes out of Moravian College students.

“It was by conscription,” said Christina Grigg Martin '67, half jokingly.

Judy Quintavalle Rowe '69 told of the time when her roommate warned her that Jackson was coming for her: “She yelled, ‘Coach is coming down the street with a uniform—go hide!’ It was for lacrosse, and I didn’t play lacrosse.”

Jackson’s student-athletes played hard, laughed hard, enjoyed first-time experiences, and learned new skills, and all of it made a difference in their lives. Willa Howard Kravitz ’68 told how she wished the college offered horseback riding. Jackson suggested she find a local barn that would be willing to lend their horses, and Kravitz found one. But no one at the barn was available for instruction. Jackson suggested that Kravitz teach riding to other students, and she did.

“Coach Chris and my Moravian experience gave me the confidence to pursue whatever interested me,” said Kravitz. “I learned that if you want to do something you can.”

“Coach was a big influence on us,” echoed Dana Burt Donaldson '69.

Last sips of coffee were drunk. Final tales told. And the former teammates and their beloved coach, filled with their stories, departed the luncheon to explore the Moravian campus.

Chris Wytock moved on from Moravian College in 1969 and married Charlie Jackson, now deceased. Later, she earned a doctorate in sports psychology at Boston University and joined the athletic program at William and Mary where she served for 30 years as coach of the swim team for 13 years, chair of the PE department, chair of kinesiology for 14 years, and taught courses in sports psychology, statistics, and gender and sport. She now winters in Bethlehem and spends the rest of the year at her home in Maine.

Alumnae in Attendance

Donna Owen Bauer '69

Valerie Papps Connors '68

Dana Burt Donaldson '69

Mary Ann Mikitka Fritz '67

Susan Watt Gowen '65

Carol Coles Graf '66

Thyra Morf Groff '65

Nancy McKinley Hawkins '69

Myra Heimbrook Jones '66

Kathryn Broczkowski Klein '67

Bertie Francis Knisely ’69

Willa Howard Kravitz '68

Lois Leeson Lecher '65

Christina Grigg Martin '67

Peggy Bartholomew Melchoir '68

Martha Sternbergh Neff '70

Judy Quintavalle Rowe '69

Susan Clay Smith '69