|• Fall 2002||Magazine Archive & Search • Muhlenberg Home|
BY MIKE FALK Sports Information Director
Rev. Dr. Ruth Smith '63 didn’t intend to play sports at Muhlenberg, but she wound up as one of the school’s first great female athletes. She didn’t intend to go into the ministry either, but that is where she has spent the last 20-plus years of her life.
Determined to “put away the childish things and get on with real life,” Smith was coaxed into playing on the first Muhlenberg field hockey team in the fall of 1959. She still holds the school records for goals in a career (44), season (18 in 1962) and game (seven vs. Moravian in 1962), leading the team to a 21-0-3 record over four years. Smith also played basketball and tennis while at Muhlenberg and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981.
After graduating, Smith taught chemistry at Emmaus High School for 15 years. Then she got a “call from God to go into full-time ministry. I argued with God that I was not the minister type, but He won.”
Smith received a Master of Divinity from Anderson (Ind.) University Seminary and in 1980 moved to Glen Burnie, Md., where she built a church – literally. She supervised the construction of a new building as well as a new congregation. From 1992 to 1998, Smith was hospice chaplain at the Anne Arundel Medical Center, where she developed a renowned spiritual care program for the dying.
Smith became a chaplain inside the hospital in 1998 and remained there until she retired in October 2001. She was retired for “about a week” when she was recruited by the Transplant Resource Center of Maryland, which was expanding its tissue donation center. Smith now works several days each month as a “tissue consenter,” comforting relatives of the deceased and asking them for donations.
An avid golfer, Smith now lives in Chester, Md., where the women’s sports she watches on the television are a far cry from what they were in her playing days.
“I wouldn’t change anything in my life, but I do wish that when I was there they would have had scholarships or some kind of help,” she said. “We put a lot of time in and represented the school well. It was hard to be a science major with all the labs and still make all the road trips ... we had to be pretty dedicated.”
Smith has fond memories of her teammates, who helped cure her early homesickness, and her coach, the late Jean Hecht. “It was a good time in my life. It has a lot to do with who I am today.”
What started out as a means to get more playing time in basketball has grown into much more for national powerlifting champion Jay Haines '73.
At 5 feet, 9 inches, Haines was one of the shorter players on the Muhlenberg basketball team when he started out in 1969. “It wasn’t hard to figure out that the only way I was going to succeed was to be a little bit stronger,” he says. So Haines began lifting weights, and it made him successful enough to score 1,089 points and earn all-conference recognition twice.
After graduating, Haines continued to stay in good physical shape by following a regular regimen of running and lifting. During that time he coached basketball (as an assistant at Muhlenberg and as a head coach at nearby Dieruff and Catasauqua high schools) while teaching social studies, first at Dieruff and then at Catasauqua, where he has been since 1983.
In 1995, Haines happened to get his hands on a copy of Powerlifting U.S.A. magazine. Casually glancing through it, he noticed the results of some recent competitions and thought, “I’m doing those, or close to those.” So Haines entered a local meet in Wilkes-Barre – and won. “Looking back at that, I don’t know how I did it,” he recalls.
The next year, Haines won the Pennsylvania state meet. He continued to win meets, and in 1998 he “really started to look at it as more than just something to do after work.”
For the next three years, Haines won the U.S. Powerlifting Federation national championship. Powerlifters are grouped by age and weight class and compete in three lifts: the bench press, the squat and the dead lift. Haines won the three-lift (combined weight) title in 1999 and 2001 and the championship in the bench press in 2000.
Haines got his first taste of international competition earlier this year, when he made the national team. Originally scheduled to be held in New Zealand, the world championships were moved to Austin, Texas, after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Haines won the silver medal in the bench press, finishing second to a Japanese man who set a world record.
Haines competed in the national championships in Cleveland on Aug. 24, 2002, seeking to qualify for the 2003 world championships in Prague. (The results of this contest were not available as we went to press with this issue of the Muhlenberg magazine, but look for an update in our next issue.)
“I enjoy the challenge of seeing if I can continue to improve,” says Haines of his powerlifting career. “I enjoy how I feel because of the training. If you do it right, it has a health benefit.
“I’m lifting more now at age 51 than I was at 31. I’m going to do it as long as I can and as long as I enjoy it.”
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