By Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Oh, hey, what’s 37 years, give or take?
Marcy Weston arrived at Central Michigan University in 1972 as a physical education instructor and field hockey coach.
Just another stop, a steppingstone, in a career path launched in 1966 when Weston, armed with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, went from junior high teacher in suburban Detroit to grad school at Kent State to teaching and coaching at Wisconsin-Whitewater. She planned to stay five years.
“Forty-two years later, I’m still here,” Weston says with characteristic frankness, wit and charm. “Five years? My math was a little off.”
Weston, an iconic figure in both CMU and women’s collegiate athletics, will retire at the end of March, 2015, bringing to a close her CMU career during which she has coached three sports (basketball, volleyball and field hockey), served as the Senior Associate Athletics Director and, since 2012, as the Executive Associate Director of Athletics/Sport Administration.
CMU will be hosting a celebration of Weston’s career this spring. Details will be released at a later date.
Weston has amassed an incredible resumé of awards and accolades as a driving force behind Chippewa athletics and collegiate women’s athletics in general.
Weston’s arrival at CMU coincided with that nationally of Title IX, the historic legislation guaranteeing equal access for women. From the ground floor, Weston became a staunch advocate for women’s sports, at CMU and, seemingly, everywhere else.
She knew full well the myriad benefits that athletics provide for both women and men, and she has witnessed the acceptance, the growth and the blossoming of female athletics programs and student-athletes in four-plus decades, sometimes at the forefront, sometimes in the spotlight, many other times in the background doing the heavy lifting.
“I’m pleased to see the value that society places on sports for girls and women,” she says, adding that females derive the same benefits from athletics as do their male counterparts. “Leadership, fitness, outlook on life, self esteem, confidence.”
In 2004, Weston was inducted into the CMU Athletics Hall of Fame, which is named in her honor.
“I don’t really know what I’m going to do,” says Weston, who speaks with an energy and an enthusiasm of a woman half her age. “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. Travel? Weston’s suitcase is covered in stickers after logging 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. “I like to travel. 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 and 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 in general. There’s no question she will remain a frequent spectator at Chippewa athletic events.
She will also be involved – no matter the venue or arena or endeavor, perhaps a volunteer. She’s hardly a sit-still person.
“My mantra’s been, I want to see choices that are out there: choice activities, choice fun, choice work, choice volunteer,” she says. “That’s going to be (perhaps) my first year. I know I’m tightly wound, I know I’m a little high-strung at times. I know that about myself. There’ll be something. I just don’t know what it is.”
What it was -- for more than 50 years -- was a passion for education and athletics and her years as an athlete, then a coach, then an administrator and as a basketball official brought her a unique perspective.
And one that is highly respected and highly sought on several fronts.
“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 said. “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.”
Weston’s list of accolades is long and distinguished:
• The NCAA recognized Weston in 1991 as one of the nine major contributors to the first decade of NCAA women’s basketball
• She was named National Collegiate Women Administrators Region V Administrator of the Year in 1994
• In 2000, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.
• In 2008, she was honored by the National Association of Sport Officials as the first female to earn the organization’s Gold Whistle Award.
• In 2012, she earned the Michigan Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award. She was also nominated for the honor by CMU in 2004.
• She has received special recognition awards from the University of Dayton National Alumni Association, the Michigan High School Athletic Association, and the CMU Leadership Institute.
• She was twice named the NCAA Regional Gymnastics Administrator of the Year.
Accolades are nice, but it was the day-to-day contact with student-athletes that Weston has coveted, she says.
“I would never work with all adults,” she says. “I would hate it. I’ve never worked with all adults my whole life. There’s always been student-athletes around. That’s what I like the best about what I do, working with young people.
“I don’t coach kids anymore, but I kind of look at it like I coach coaches. Not that I tell them what to do, but I say ‘Have you thought about this?’ And I mentor them a little bit. That’s really what I like best, the coaching and the mentoring.”
Officiating always held a special place in Weston’s heart. Her first foray into that aspect of athletics came when she was a college student at Dayton. She officiated high school girl’s basketball and a recreational league.
“Five bucks a game,” Weston says. “I’d make 20, 25 bucks a week. That was a lot of money. Of course tuition was $17 a credit hour.”
While making her way in the education/coaching world, Weston continued to officiate, an arrangement made possible by the fact that she coached volleyball (a fall sport) at CMU and women’s basketball was and remains in the winter.
“Girls high school volleyball in Michigan was in the winter back then,” Weston says. “I would referee (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.”
“There were probably 10 years where I never had a day off from Oct. 15 through the Final Four, other than Christmas Day. Thanksgiving I was traveling to a tournament or refereeing a tournament.”
“You could only do it when you’re young. 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 (AIAW) national championship game the Division II national semifinals in the late 1970’s. In 1982, she officiated the first NCAA Women’s National Championship game, a feat she repeated in 1984.
She hung up her whistle after officiating that game in ’84 to become the Big Ten Supervisor of Officials and NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor/National Coordinator of Officials, posts she held until 1988 and 2006, respectfully.
All that Weston did, professionally, only served to fuel her passion: athletics and the role they play in education.
“It’s never been about money, it’s never been about titles,” Weston says. “I love it. I just love what I do. And I’m going to love what I continue to do. I just don’t know what it is yet. I’m a glass half-full person. I’m going to make the most of it.”