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Marcy Weston retires after legendary career in college athletics

Women's sports coach, administrator retires after 42 years

Contact: Rob Wyman


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Stories by Andy Sneddon
Reprinted from Centralight Spring 2015

​​​Marcy Weston arrived at Central Michigan University as a phys ed instructor and field hockey coach in 1972. Her plan to only stay at CMU for five years turned into a 42-year career in Mount Pleasant, where she has left an indelible mark on the university, the NCAA and women’s athletics. Here is a look at her legendary career.​

When Marcy Weston arrived at Central Michigan University as a phys ed instructor and field hockey coach in 1972, her plan was to move on in five years.

“Forty-two years later, I’m still here,” Weston says with characteristic frankness, wit and disarming charm. “Five years? My math was a little off.”

Now an iconic figure in CMU and women’s collegiate athletics nationally, Weston has announced she will retire this month as senior associate athletics director. All of her career was spent here in Mount Pleasant, where she has left an indelible mark on the university, the NCAA and women’s athletics.

“Marcy Weston is a giant in intercollegiate athletics,” says MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. “Forget Central Michigan and the Mid-American Conference. She is one of the giants of this enterprise.”

Making a mark nationally

Weston’s arrival at CMU coincided with the debut of Title IX, the historic legislation that guaranteed: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

From the very beginning, Weston became a staunch advocate for women’s athletics.

As an athlete herself, she saw the benefits athletics provide, and she witnessed the acceptance, growth and maturation of women’s programs and student-athletes in her four-plus decades at CMU. At times she was at the forefront; many times in the background doing the heavy lifting.

“She’s a big reason some of what has evolved in terms of opportunities for female student-athletes is available now. And she was an advocate for all student-athletes, not just women,” Steinbrecher says.

Weston coached three women’s sports at CMU – basketball, volleyball and field hockey. She served as the university’s senior associate athletics director and, since 2012, as the executive associate director of Athletics/Sport Administration.

In 1979, she granted the first full-ride scholarship to a female athlete in CMU history.

“When you talk about the late ’70s, that was the turning point for women’s athletics,” said Terri (Phillion) Dulude, ’83, who received that scholarship and played volleyball for Weston for four years. “I never felt with her at the helm that we were any less than the men.

“She went to bat for us, and she got us what we deserved,” says Dulude, who is still close with Weston. “Sometimes when I leave her after a visit, I think, ’That is one special woman. How did I get so lucky to have played for her?’”

In 2004, Weston was inducted into the CMU Athletics Hall of Fame, which is named in her honor.

Always a teacher, always a coach

Weston is passionate about education and athletics and giving every woman and man a fair shake. She was highly respected and highly sought after during her career, as evidenced by the number of accolades she has received.

“Marcy Weston has been a cornerstone of CMU athletics for over 40 years, and her legacy will guide this program as we go forward,” CMU Director of Athletics Dave Heeke says. “She is recognized nationally as one of the outstanding leaders in college athletics and has been instrumental in the expansion of opportunities for student-athletes across the board.

“Marcy has done so many incredible things here at CMU, but what will be missed most is her unwavering commitment and dedication to the success of student-athletes, coaches and staff. She truly makes all those around her better.”

It was that day-to-day contact with student-athletes that was most enjoyable, Weston says.

“I don’t coach kids anymore, but I kind of look at it like I coach coaches. … I mentor them a little bit. That’s really what I like best.”

That’s the way it has always been with Weston, who possesses a visceral feel for people that has served her, and others, well.

“The glass is always half-full,” says June Courteau, the NCAA coordinator of officials for women’s basketball and a longtime colleague. “In fact, with Marcy, it was three-quarters.

“I think she looked at challenges, or life itself, as, ’How can we make it better?’ She’s an outstanding listener. That’s a lost art, and I believe that’s what makes her so good. She’s great at managing situations and great at bringing a group together where they all feel that they have input.

“She creates an environment, an aura, a feeling,” Courteau says. “It’s intangible, and there’s no pretense.”

Because of that, Weston’s influence is unrivaled.

“Think of the scores of student-athletes whose lives Marcy has influenced,” the MAC’s Steinbrecher says. “And the coaches, not only at Central, but across the league and the country. What a spectacular career, and she did it all, quite frankly, with a quiet grace and integrity that really belied her passion and intensity.”

Her next game plan

Weston, who speaks with an energy and an enthusiasm of a woman half her 70 years, says she’s not quite sure what’s next for her, but there will be some travel involved.

“I’m not going to do anything calculated for six months. I don’t even know what’s out there.”

Write a book? Maybe. She was an English major at Dayton before switching to physical education. Draw? Art has always been in her blood.

One thing is sure: Weston’s suitcase has logged tens of thousands of miles in her career as a coach, administrator and basketball official.

Now, she can go at her own pace.

“I’m excited about what I don’t know is out there,” she says. “You know the people you meet and they say, ’You gotta come and visit me sometime’? “I’m going to put a map of the United States up and I’m going to dot it where all my friends that I’ve met over the years live. I’d like to go on about a six-week driving tour of the U.S. I’ve always wanted to just look at the countryside a little bit.”

Weston’s heart will always be in Michigan, at CMU and with women’s sports. She will always be involved in something important – no matter the venue, arena or endeavor. She’s hardly a sit-still person.

“There’ll be something,” she says. “I just don’t know what it is.”

Marcy Weston always has been a whistle-blower at heart.

Her first foray into officiating came when she was an undergrad at the University of Dayton in the mid-1960s.

“Five bucks a game,” Weston recalls of her fledgling days in stripes, calling rec league and high school basketball games. “I’d make 20, 25 bucks a week. That was a lot of money. Of course, tuition was $17 a credit hour.”

Fifty years later, in 2008, she became the first woman to receive the Gold Whistle Award from the National Association of Sports Officials. The award is one of the most coveted in the world of sports officiating. It recognizes outstanding contributions of sports officials, referees and umpires beyond their officiating.

While making her way in the education and coaching world, Weston continued to officiate, an arrangement made possible by the fact that she coached volleyball – a fall sport at CMU – and had the time for basketball in the winter.

“Girls’ high school volleyball in Michigan was in the winter back then,” Weston says. “I would referee college basketball on a Friday somewhere in Michigan; I’d go to a high school volleyball tournament on Saturday and recruit; and referee basketball on Sunday. Big Ten women played Friday and Sunday, so it was perfect.”

Perfectly busy. For years, Weston rarely had a day off from late August until the Final Four in March.

“You could only do it when you’re young,” Weston says. “It was great, and I loved every minute of it.”

Weston rose to prominence as an official, working the Division III Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national championship game and the Division II national semifinals in the late 1970s. In 1982, she officiated the first NCAA Division I Women’s National Championship game, a feat she repeated in 1984. She was scheduled to call the ’83 title game, but appendicitis kept her from it.

That 1984 game was the last she officiated. She moved on to become the Big Ten supervisor of officials and NCAA secretary-rules editor/national coordinator of officials, posts she held until 1988 and 2006, respectively.

Cristy Freese, a veteran of intercollegiate athletics, will succeed Marcy Weston as CMU’s senior associate athletics director.

Freese, CMU’s field hockey head coach for the past 29 seasons, is the all-time winningest coach in CMU field hockey history, finishing her career with 226 victories. She led CMU to four Mid-American Conference championships and was named the league coach of the year four times.

But that’s not all: In 2012, her Chippewas boasted the highest team grade-point average nationally in Division I – an impressive 3.61.

CMU finished second nationally last year and has ranked in the top five the past four years.

“Cristy’s ability to build a successful program is a big reason she will be a terrific addition to our senior leadership team,” Director of Athletics Dave Heeke says.

He says Freese understands what it takes to create an outstanding experience for student-athletes, which is at the core of CMU’s mission.

“Her ability to provide strong leadership and maintain the high standards associated with our championship culture will keep us all focused on excellence in the future.”

Freese is excited and thankful that Heeke knows she can do the job.

“I would like to thank Marcy Weston for being such a great mentor to me,” Freese says. “Athletic administration has been a professional goal of mine and to have this opportunity here at Central Michigan is very special.”

​​

A celebration dinner for Marcy Weston will be held at 6:30 p.m. (social hour begins at 5:30 p.m.) Monday, April 27, at McGuirk Arena. The cost is $40 per person. Register here​ or call alumni relations at (800) 358-6903. The event is open to the public.

 

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