The Unsung Heroes of Bridgewater College
Among the most cherished of Bridgewater College's many blessings are its people—the nurse, the cook, the housekeeper—who course like a never ending, always reliable current through the life of the College, giving it heart and soul as well as sustenance.
Many of these people have had incalculable positive influences on the students whose paths they have crossed, and the fact that they have not done it for praise or publicity makes it all the more notable. They have done it simply because they are good and caring people who embody the spirit and the essence of Bridgewater College
A housekeeper who took an exchange student under her wing; an electrician who helped a student cope with his freshman-year challenges; a kitchen worker whose smile still resonates in the memories of an alumna—these and other stories were presented in the summer issue of Bridgewater magazine.
Tributes to Laura Mapp
By Sandra M. Chase ‘67
Although I was a General Science Pre-Med Major when I attended Bridgewater College, I began a friendship with Miss Mapp that continues to the present. While at BC, I took the two years of physical education that women students took at the time. I also participated in intramural sports throughout my years there, such that, surprising to me, I received my graduation numerals as a part of a ceremony held in Cole Hall. I can still hear my underclassman brother’s voice saying “Bruiser” as I walked down the aisle to receive the 67.
After I graduated in 1967, whenever I returned to campus, I would be sure to stop in at Coach Mapp’s Office for a chat. In recent years, I have stopped by her cottage at the Bridgewater Retirement Home. At my most recent visit at Homecoming last October 2016, I persuaded her to take a selfie with me.
Thank you, Laura Mapp. Thank you, Bridgewater College.
By Melody Derrow Hinkle '91
Melody Derrow Hinkle '91 is a Technology Education Teacher for Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland. She remembers a time when she wasn’t playing as well as she could or wanted.
I was in a bad slump. Coach Mapp was so organized and attentive to details! She took an individual interest in each player and was tracking them so she knew when we were “off.” She gave me a hand-written note filled with lots of positive feedback to encourage me and lift me up out of my slump. The timing was just right. When I was doubting myself, she believed in me.
Coach Mapp never yelled and rarely raised her voice. But, you knew when she raised her hand and started shaking her pinky she meant business. I can still see her shaking her pinky at the referees after a bad call against BC.
Coach Mapp would always find a way to treat us at the end of the season. She would often invite us to her home or take us out to a nice restaurant. She would pay out of her own pocket. She was very giving and caring.
Besides my parents, I do not know any other individual who demonstrates such an exemplary work ethic. She was a tireless worker doing even the smallest, menial tasks like picking up trash she saw as she was walking across campus. Coach Mapp modeled hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and integrity in every aspect of her life. She modeled excellence.
She has inspired me to persevere, be tough, be honest, and push myself toward excellence in every way possible. She has also inspired me to be a more patient person which has served me well as a parent, coach and teacher. She inspires me to keep her legacy alive.
Coach Mapp is the real deal. She has coached hundreds of young ladies and remembers each of us... And she remembers our families, our children, our careers. She is the most genuine person who has a unique gift. She is spending her life sharing that gift with others. She has impacted so many lives through her teaching, coaching, service and friendships. Her impact has left ripples that continue to flow quietly outward.
I love Coach Mapp and I am forever grateful that she was my coach in basketball, tennis, and life. I am honored to attempt to carry on the tradition of excellence she has modeled for us all these years.
By Susan Billhimer Phillips ’77
Susan Billhimer Phillips '77 has operated a beef cattle farm with her husband for 25 years. She coached at BC from 1979-1980 as an assistant lacrosse coach with Coach Heishman and from 1990-1994 as an assistant field hockey coach with Coach Mapp.
When she first met Coach Mapp, Susan’s overall impression was of someone who was friendly, positive, kind, and passionate about her career. She recalls one particular game when the BC basketball team was playing Virginia State during the Virginia Small College State Championship.
At halftime we were losing by 17 points and we were very disappointed with our performance. Coach Mapp calmly told us the adjustments we needed to make for the second half. She said, “Don’t hang your heads. We can come back from this. We still have one half left to play and we can overcome this.” We did come back and won by 10 points. She believed in us.
She taught us to be prepared for what we were doing and to give 100% to the task at hand. To always do your best and hard work will bring success.
She influenced me simply by being a loyal friend and role model. She keeps up not only with me but with so many of her former student athletes. She remembers the year someone graduated, how many children they have, and what work they do. Pretty remarkable.
Most people probably do not know that she has a very dry sense of humor. Also, since retirement, she has taken up golf and enjoys playing the Par 3 in Bridgewater.
Coach Mapp always looks for the positive in people and in situations. She has been a great role model and mentor not only for me, but for all her former student athletes. I have been blessed to have her as a coach, and to have served as her assistant coach. She made a huge difference in our lives by her passion and dedication to BC.
By Ginny Snuggs ’72
Now retired, Ginny Snuggs '72 taught middle school physical education and health for 43 years, and served as athletic director for 35 years and department head for 37 years (and coached for 12).
She met Coach Mapp in 1968. Ginny’s high school teacher, Dee Morris, a 1966 BC graduate took Ginny to BC to check out the campus and meet Coach Mapp.
She was so genuine and kind. She made a wonderful impression on me.
Coach Mapp’s coaching style was always so patient and structured. She worked hard at coaching, especially when women converted to 5 on 5 for basketball from 6 on 6. This was a big transition for women. Unlimited dribbling and 5 on 5, new offence and new defense. We always practiced late regardless if it was hockey or basketball. She never raised her voice to any of us.
Coach Mapp always told us that we were ladies first and athletes second. That was always her standard when we left for an away game. It was good advice and I used it with all of my athletes and students over the years. She also told us to be kind, patient and understanding.
Coach Mapp’s teaching and coaching style was my model for my career. Between her and Dee I had the best two mentors and examples. In certain situations I would ask myself what would Ms. Mapp do or what would Dee do? All of my career after BC reflected the lessons in life that I learned at BC.
Coach Mapp is amazing woman. She is generous, kind, compassionate about life and BC, and the most understanding person you will have ever have the opportunity to meet. One in a million!
Coach Mapp paid for part of our away trips with her own money because the budget for woman’s sports was not the greatest. Title IX was not even a thought at the time. We’ve come a long way baby!
If you were sick or injured Ms. Mapp would come to the dorm to check on you. She made the best brownies for away games and had us over to her house for meals. She made the best fried apples ever. If you could not study in the dorm you could go to her house and study. There was not a player or student of Ms. Mapp’s—including the men who were students in her classes—who would not do anything for her.
I was honored to speak about Coach Mapp at the Coaches’ Corner a few years back. It was the most thrilling experience of my life. I felt like I was finally able to give back and express how much she means to all of us.
By Deb West Windett ’76
Deb retired after 34 years of teaching and coaching field hockey and lacrosse after 34 years.
She met Miss Mapp when she and her parents visited Bridgewater during her junior year of high school. Deb’s first impression of Mapp was how much she was like her high school field hockey coach, Emilie Sizemore. “She was sweet, soft spoken and with that southern accent I loved. I felt immediately at home.”
Although she did not raise her voice, Miss Mapp was able to convey she meant business or that she expected more from her players. I guess we never wanted to disappoint her, and that drove us to succeed.
She pushed us physically, I think because she wanted us to never be outrun. We had three practices a day for field hockey. The morning practice consisted of running the hill where the football stadium is now and running the track. It was grueling. A lot of us were upset when the stadium was built because the teams that followed us got out of that hill run.
Miss Mapp was also a real student of the game and was ahead of her time. Once she came to a field hockey practice with a new formation for us to use. We went from a five man line to a four man line. It was the latest change in the game and so great for our team.
When I was a Bridgewater, the student body had 800 students but Miss Mapp wanted us to compete at the highest level. She scheduled us to play the big schools and we were successful. We played JMU in every sport. We went to the University of Maryland and played them in basketball in Cole Field House. We played UVA, William and Mary, Towson, and many other schools that were bigger and better funded than us. Miss Mapp never backed down from the challenge and that is what she instilled in us.
Miss Mapp taught us how to treat our students and our players when we became teachers and coaches. She treated us like her kids. We would invite ourselves to her house for a real breakfast. (Of course, she got up at 5 am, so you had to get there early.) She baked treats for our long van rides to games and everyone went to her office for hot chocolate in the morning before 8 am practices. You could view the practice plan for the day (and dread the running all day long).
She taught a full load of classes, coached three sports, and took care of her athletes. To this day, I am amazed at how she handled it all so well. She treated everyone fairly. If you were sick, she checked up on you in the dorm. If you had a problem, she talked to you or sent you a note to pump you up. I am sure all her players remember those notes that always ended with her signature---Take Care, Miss Mapp. I have kept many of those notes!
Miss Mapp set the example for me of what a teacher and coach should be and I am passing that onto my daughter as well. She worked hard in the classroom and playing field or court and still found the time to have genuine relationships with her student athletes. That meant so much to all of us—whether we were 15 minutes or 5 hours from home. Having that special person you could turn to was what made BC so special. I try to treat all of my kids the same way and hope that they go away from our program with the same joy I had from my experiences at Bridgewater.
Miss Mapp is probably in every hall of fame out there for her contributions to sports but you would never know it. She is so dignified and humble, even with all she has accomplished. She could have been a successful coach at any school at any level. The fact that she devoted her life to Bridgewater is really amazing. You don't see coaches spending their entire career at one college. We were very fortunate to have her at BC.
Tributes to Robert Tout
By Carina Botterbusch '12
Carina Botterbusch is Recovery Coordinator for Meridian Behavioral Health Services in Waynesville, N.C.
When I was first hired to work at the library, I chose to work two nights per week so that my job would not interrupt my days, and I would be able to utilize this time to complete assignments for the following days. My supervisor would be reference librarian Robert Tout, as he worked the evening shift. I was warned by a co-worker that he was "somewhat difficult to get along with", and so I entered my job with this preconception in mind. Other students told me that they found Robert intimidating, thought he was always grumpy, and so on. I quickly learned that these preconceptions were misconceptions.
When taking a smoke break, he would tell me in a playful tone that I was in charge, sometimes adding a comment about not letting the kids get rowdy. On the rare occasion I went into the library when I was not working, he would smile and wave to me from across the large sitting area. He would sometimes find me writing a blog during my shift, and we would talk about my chosen topic.
Other students who also knew the real Robert would agree with me about his sweet nature and vast knowledge of the world of reference literature.
During one of my shifts at the end of the fall semester of my senior year, he found me making a variety of origami creations. This brief interaction had a sweetness that has stuck with me ever since. That semester was particularly difficult for me. An emotionally abusive relationship created rifts with my roommates, and I later worked to rebuild friendships, all while I was taking 21.5 credits. My interaction with Robert about origami reminded me that I was still able to establish genuinely empathic connections with others.
Robert came to tell me that he was going outside for a smoke break. He commented on my origami and told me a story about a previous student worker who made hundreds of tiny paper cranes and placed them throughout the library as he re-shelved books. Robert said that he probably still had at least one somewhere in his desk and that he liked mine. While he was outside, I finished making another one, which I gave to him to keep after he came back inside. He smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen from him.
Robert was such an important part of my college career that I wrote him a thank-you card when I graduated the following May. I told him that I enjoyed the brief conversations we had had over those three years and that I appreciated the connection we had, evidenced by brief interactions like smiling and waving from across the large sitting area.
The following year, while I was back on campus for Homecoming 2013, I learned that Robert had passed away just a few months earlier. Staff told me that my origami creation and my thank you card were found in his desk when it was cleaned out after he passed away. Robert, you already know that you meant a lot to me, but I wish I could tell you again.
Tributes to Wilmer Neff
By Bennett Downes '71
Bennett Downes '71 retired from the Maryland School System after 30 years as a teacher.
Bennett Downes '71 of Dover, Del., has warm memories of a Bridgewater employee. When Downes was a freshman living in Yount Hall, he had to run the gauntlet of hazing pranks from upperclassmen. This is where Wilmer Neff, an electrician and general handyman at the College, came into the picture.
"I saw an ad for a part-time job with the cleaning crew in the morning," said Downes. "I signed on and and was assigned to work with Mr. Neff. Each morning we would meet in front of Wardo Hall, he would hand me my broom and off we would go. Systematically and carefully he showed me how to do my job, which was sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms, etc.
"But the best part," said Downes, "were our breaks where I could voice my concerns of being homesick and dealing with bullies in the dorm. He listened carefully and always offered a kind and caring ear. He really helped me navigate that first year, which can be full of challenges."
Downes also learned that it's a small world.
"I was from the eastern shore of Maryland and was amazed when he told me he once sold Lux soap door to door in my hometown."
The following year Downes moved on to another job, and not long after that Neff retired from the College.
"I will," said Downes, "always remember his quiet and kind demeanor and how to take pride in the simple tasks of life that people rarely acknowledge. I thought of him last year as I attended reunion for the first time since graduating. I was lucky to have crossed his path in life. He was as important to me as any person at Bridgewater."