Honoring a Pioneer
At the Golden Triangle breakfast during Reunion Weekend 2015, a group of five alumna surprised their friend Diane Potter ’57, G’63, with the announcement of two endowed funds in her honor: the Potter Softball Coaching Fund and the Potter Softball Program Fund.
The coaching fund will create an endowment to support the head softball coaching salary and the softball program fund will create an endowment that provides annual support for the highest needs of the softball program.
The group included three alumna who were former players (Amy Friedman ’75, Denise Desautels ’77, and Diane Schumacher ’75) and two who were both colleagues and former players (Dottie Zenaty ’65 and Lynn Johnson ’77) of Potter.
This is the first endowed fund for a coaching position at Springfield College, so it makes sense that it would honor Potter. She was the first coach of the first softball team and the first woman to serve as assistant athletic director.
Schumacher agreed, adding, “I hope this fund is the first of several to honor some of the women at Springfield College.”
The women who helped create the funds can attest to the substantial impact Potter had on her players. Some fondly recall her coaching style while some remember her infectious laugh.
“I was very blessed to have the opportunity to work with her and to grow under her tutelage. Diane’s positive attitude, work ethic, knowledge, caring, and true dedication to Springfield College cannot be matched,” said Zenaty.
Beyond the field, they remember how much they leaned on her for support, even after graduation. “There are times when I’d pick up the phone and we’d just talk,” said Friedman. “We all meant something to her. We’re all family.”
Currently the gifts and pledges toward the funds total $687,000, with a goal of $1.25 million. With this initiative, the former players and colleagues of Potter were able to both memorialize a coach who meant the world to them and help ensure the future success of the softball program.
“She was a pioneer in women’s athletics and provided the building blocks for today’s student-athletes. Diane’s leadership as a coach and an administrator opened up these opportunities,” Desautels said.