Tidye Pickett: The Chicago school teacher who became the first African American woman to represent the US in the Olympics

tidyepickettThere are many examples throughout American history of talented educators who have also distinguished themselves in the field of sports. One such example is the remarkable Tidye Pickett.

Theodora Anne Pickett was born on November 13, 1914, in Chicago, Illinois. Known by everyone as Tidye, she was the second of two children born to Louis and Sarah Pickett.

As a teenager, Tidye took up running. She quickly established a reputation as a high school track star at her alma mater, Englewood High School in Chicago. She was one of two African American women selected to represent the United States women’s track team in the 1932 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. She was scheduled to serve as part of an eight-woman relay team and as an alternate sprinter in the 80-meter hurdles, the broad jump, and the 100-meter sprint, but did not actually compete in those games. When the 1936 games rolled around, Tidye was again selected to represent the US. A foot injury prevented Tidye from medaling in those games; however, she did earn the distinction of being the first African American woman to compete in an Olympic Games.

Tidye earned her bachelor’s degree from Pestalozzi Froebel Teachers College in Chicago and her master’s degree in education from Northern Illlinois University in August, 1956. Following her college graduation, Tidye accepted a position as a teacher at Cottage Grove Elementary in East Chicago Heights. She taught there for just one year, and then the talented educator was promoted to the position of principal of Woodlawn School in the same district. She remained in that position for 23 years until her retirement in 1980. In recognition for her many years of distinguished service, the district renamed her school Tidy A. Pickett School.

This amazing chalkboard champion passed away on November 17, 1986, at the age of 72.

Physical Education Teacher, Coach, and Former Pro Basketball Player Andrew DeClercq

0c84ac3There are many stellar examples of talented athletes who have also distinguished themselves as educators. One such athlete is Andrew DeClercq, a physical education teacher and boys basketball coach who has also had a notable career as a professional basketball player.

Andrew was born on February 1, 1973, in Detroit, Michigan. As a youngster, he attended Countryside High School in Clearwater, Florida. After his high school graduation in 1991, Andrew attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, on a scholarship, earning his bachelor’s degree in history in 1995. While there, the 6’10”, 255 pound athlete played center on his college basketball team.

Following his college graduation, Andrew was drafted by the National Basketball Association. During his ten-year pro basketball career, he played for a number of teams, including the Golden State Warriors (1995-1997), the Boston Celtics, (1997-1999), the Cleveland Cavaliers (1999-2000), and the Orlando Magic (2000-2005). He played the positions of center and power forward.

Once he retired from pro basketball, Andrew accepted a position as a physical education teacher for the Montverde Academy, a private college-prep school located in Montverde, Florida. He also served the school as an assistant basketball coach for the school’s nationally ranked team. He was employed there from 2009 to 2010. He then accepted a position as the Head Varsity and Head Junior Varsity Basketball Coach for the Foundation Academy, simultaneously coaching their middle school junior varsity and varsity teams. The Foundation Academy is a private school located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Andrew currently lives in Clermont, Florida, where he owns and operates youth basketball day camps, training centers, and clinics in the Central Florida area. You can view Andrew at work as a teacher and coach in this YouTube video:

 

High school Spanish teacher Margaret Domka doubles as international soccer referee

1683023_full-lndThere are many examples of talented teachers who also distinguish themselves in arenas outside the field of education. One such educator is Margaret Domka, a high school Spanish teacher who is also a well-respected international soccer referee.

Margaret was born August 13, 1979. Originally from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Margaret graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For the past twelve years, she has worked as a Spanish teacher at Union Grove Union High in Union Grove, Wisconsin.

Margaret began her lifelong love affair with soccer when she was only four years old. She continued to play the sport throughout her childhood. “When I was 13, I started refereeing just as a summer job that I could have while I was in high school—a way to play soccer but have a flexible job with some money on the side,” Margaret once explained. “I never dreamed for a moment that it would take me to where it has.” During college, this exceptional athlete served as a defender on her school’s women’s soccer team. In 2000, Margaret’s senior year, the team advanced into the women’s NCAA Division III Final Four. That year, the intrepid player was named a Division III first team All-American.

After graduating from college, Margaret became the first female to officiate a game for the Milwaukee Wave. In 2007-2008, Margaret worked as a FIFA international assistant referee, and in 2010 and 2014, she worked the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups. She also worked the 2012 Portugal-based Algarve Cup championship. In 2015, Margaret was selected as a match official for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Margaret says she feels lucky to be able to referee and still work full-time in the classroom. “I’ve been fortunate. I think that refereeing is always a very good job to have with the teaching,” she declares. “I’m very fortunate to have administrators who have allowed me to continue on this journey.”

Baseball’s Victor Aldredge: “The Hoosier Schoolmaster”

Aldridge_VicThere are many examples of capable educators who have also established themselves as talented athletes. One of these is teacher Victor Aldridge, who was also an accomplished pitcher for Major League Baseball.

Vic was born on October 25, 1893, in the small town of Crane, Indiana. He attended Tempy Primary School, just a short walk from his home. In high school, the teenaged Vic attended nearby Trinity Springs, and following his graduation, the young athlete enrolled in Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana.

From 1914-1915, Vic taught school at the Pea Ridge School in Trinity Springs, Indiana. He also taaught in Miami County, Indiana.

Dubbed the “Hoosier Schoolmaster,” Vic was drafted in 1916 as a right-handed pitcher by the Chicago Cubs. Before his career was over, he also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Giants, and the Los Angeles Angels. Vic earned a reputation for a sharp, breaking curve ball, one of the three best pitches on any diamond in his day.  In 1918, the former educator played only three games, pitching a total of only twelve innings, before joining the US Navy during the final year of World War I. After returning from the war, Vic played for the Los Angeles Angels, an affiliate of the Cubs, then returned to the Cubs for the 1922 season. He played the next three years for Chicago, delivering consistent performances. But his most notable performances occurred during the 1925 World Series, when Vic pitched and won games two and five, only to pitch a disastrous first inning in the seventh game. He played his last game on August 29, 1928.

After he retired from baseball, Vic attended law school at the Voorhees School of Law. He also served in the Indiana State Senate from 1937 to 1948. He was first elected on November 4, 1936, on the Democratic ticket.

This distinguished educator and talented athlete passed away in Terre Haute, Indiana, on April 17, 1973, at the age of 79, and is buried in the New Trinity Springs Cemetery. For his work in baseball, he was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame on January 19, 2007, as its 131st member.

Roddy Lee: High school teacher, coach, and Olympic athlete

9621f166a4fe0cfccc89befff881d2a6In American history there are many examples of talented athletes who later became successful teachers and coaches. One such example is Roderick (Roddy) Lee, a retired high school business teacher and coach who represented the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the 1972 Munich Olympic games.

Roddy was born in the United States, but his family originally came from Taiwan. He grew up in Kensington, Contra Costa County, California, where he attended Kensington Hilltop Elementary, Portola Junior High, and nearby El Cerrito High School. This gifted athlete began running track while a student at El Cerrito. As a high school athlete, “I liked the hurdles best,” he once said. “It was a little more exciting and the races were a little faster.”

Following his high school graduation in 1967, Roddy enrolled in UC Berkeley, where he was a business major and member of the track team. In 1970, he was approached by a Taiwanese official who invited him to compete for Taiwan at the Asian Games in Bangkok. At the time, Roddy, whose Chinese name is Lee Chung-Ping, had dual citizenship with the United States and the Republic of China. Roddy agreed to represent Taiwan. “I hit a hurdle in the highs — I was the favorite there going in,” he said. “In the intermediates, I lost on a lean. But that’s how it goes. I can say that now.” Despite this setback, by the time the games were over, Roddy had won two silver medals.

Roddy also represented Taiwan in the 1972 Olympics, finishing 35th overall in the 110 hurdles. “There were only four guys on the track team,” Roddy said. “A long jumper, a triple jumper, a sprinter, and me. And that was our relay team.” The 1972 Olympics are best remembered for the Palestinian terrorist attack that left eleven Israeli athletes and coaches dead. The games were halted for one day for a memorial service. The rest of the Taiwanese team returned home on its scheduled flight. The one-day delay meant that Roddy was the last Taiwanese athlete left in Munich to carry the national flag for the closing ceremonies.

During his senior year of college, Roddy decided to become a track coach. He earned his degree and teaching credential, then coached track at Kennedy High School for ten years. Then Roddy transferred to his alma mater, El Cerrito High School, where he coached track and golf, taught computer science and physical education, and led his school’s IT team until his retirement.

In his retirement, Roddy is still very much a part of his school. He is actively working on the El Cerrito High School Archiving Project, an effort to preserve the school’s history. The effort is fitting and proper, because he is part of that history. Lee holds a spot in the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame.