The new softball stadium was named after Dr. Charlotte West, an athletics pioneer.
Feb. 13, 2003
Edwardsville, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees today (Feb. 13) named the softball stadium nearing completion on the Carbondale campus for one of the nation's pioneers in women's athletics.
Dedication of Charlotte West Stadium, which is across Grand Avenue from the Student Recreation Center, is set for March 1. West, who retired as SIUC's associate athletics director in 1998, will attend the ceremony, which will take place during that weekend's Brechtelsbauer Classic softball tournament.
"This is something I never expected in my lifetime," West said. "I'm very humbled by it."
The board today also named the softball field in honor of Carbondale businessman Barrett Rochman, an SIUC alumnus and significant annual contributor to the softball program.
West served the University for 42 years as a faculty member, coach and administrator. She began her faculty career at the University in 1957 as an instructor in the department of physical education. She became a full professor in 1973 and developed SIUC's graduate program in sports management, which she directed until June 1991.
From 1960 until 1986, West was director of intercollegiate athletics for women. She helped transform the department from its meager beginnings - when bake sales and car washes were a major source of funding - into a nationally recognized program with a budget of more than $1 million for 11 sports. After the 1986 merger of the men's and women's athletics departments, West served as associate athletics director for one year, interim director for a year and associate athletics director for 10 years.
She is the recipient of many campus and regional honors, and is known nationally for her work in the governance of intercollegiate athletics, particularly her efforts for women in sports.
Her achievements include: * Election as president of the American Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, a national governing body for women's athletics. She served in a leadership role with the organization for five years. While president, West was a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
* First woman member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, later serving on its executive committee. West's leadership role included a five-year stint on the NCAA Council, a 44-member group that governed collegiate athletics until 1997. When the NCAA created a new governing structure, West was elected as the Missouri Valley Conference's representative to the NCAA Division I Management Council. She served on a number of other NCAA national committees, including the NCAA Gender Equity Task Force.
* Numerous national honors, including being the first recipient of the Honda Award, a national honor given for outstanding achievement in women's collegiate athletics. West was the first recipient of the Woman Administrator of the Year award from the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators. The Missouri Valley Conference annually makes an award in her name, recognizing student-athletes who demonstrate outstanding achievement in academics, athletics, service and leadership.
West remains active in the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators, running two weeklong seminars each summer. She also speaks to various groups, continuing her fight for Title IX and gender equity.
Athletics Director Paul Kowalczyk said SIUC "has been very fortunate to have had a pioneer in Dr. West on our campus for so many years. We in athletics are delighted we can take this opportunity to honor her in a way that we feel will seal her legacy for generations to come."
A commemorative plaque inside the stadium will showcase West's impact on collegiate athletics. The plaque will feature an engraving of West's picture and a description of her legacy, along with a list of individuals whose lives were touched by West. To learn more about participating in this commemorative project, contact Tommy Bell, athletics development officer, at 618/453-5625, or log onto the athletics department Web site, www.siusalukis.com. A minimum contribution is necessary to be listed on the plaque.
The naming of the stadium is a fitting tribute for a role model, mentor and leader in her field, according to Kathy Jones, associate athletics director.
"I think someone who's given as much as she's given during her life's work, to this campus and to women's athletics in general, is worthy of being rewarded with something permanent and of substance," Jones said.
Softball coach Kerri Blaylock said West is richly deserving of the accolades.
"Dr. West has been such an important figure for women's athletics, not just at SIUC, but all over the country," Blaylock said. "She's well known and well respected everywhere. When I go to conventions and recruiting, I always run into someone who mentions her name and asks if I know her or worked for her."
Rochman is the president of Rochman Investment Group and has several other business ventures dealing with real estate and rental properties. A recreational softball coach the past 32 years, Rochman also has been coaching competitive women's softball since the late 1970s.
SIUC "has been absolutely instrumental" in his business success, so Rochman views his contributions to the softball program as a way of "giving back." He also believes in offering support to programs that may not receive as much of the spotlight as football and basketball.
"Softball isn't a minor sport, but a lot of people donate to football and basketball," he said. "Somebody has to help the other sports."
And help he does, according to Coach Blaylock.
"I think a sport like softball has its very loyal supporters, some of whom are so loyal it's amazing," she said. "Mr. Rochman has been so good to us financially. He bought us two new sets of uniforms last year. He lets us use his facility to hold our fundraiser free of charge. He has been such a supporter of softball in this area."