By Deb Parker
Most places named after persons of note receive those names when the honoree is no longer with us. "Potter Field," however, is a piece of living turf—named to honor one of the most vibrant Springfield College alums, a woman who is still very much around.
Diane L. Potter '57, G'63, was one of the first women ever to matriculate at Springfield College. A native of Holliston, Mass., she was introduced to the campus by family friend and Springfield College alum, Fred Janes '41, who'd learned she was interested in becoming a teacher and coach. "He called us all excited when Springfield went co- ed, actually drove me out himself to show me around, and I just fell in love with the place," she recalls. "Four years later, I returned home to start the first physical education program in the Holliston Schools. That course in curriculum development they made us take sure came in handy," she adds. "I had to invent one from scratch that started at grade one—and went all the way up to grade twelve."
Only a few short years later, Potter received a call from Springfield College that shocked, humbled, and enthralled her. "They asked if I might consider coming back to teach there," she reminisces. "I told them: But I don't have a master's degree! And they said they wanted me, and would arrange it so I could earn my master's there at the same time I was teaching. They did, and it was all like a dream."
The work Potter went on to perform, and the honors she earned, could fill a whole page. She coached Olympians and All-Americans, was nationally acclaimed as a pioneer in women's intercollegiate athletics, was invited abroad to establish softball clinics in both the Netherlands and Italy, and was named Northeast Coach of the Year two years in a row. She was singled out as one of Springfield College's finest educators when named a Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics in 1989, and, no surprise—but it still touches her deeply—it was her own team of players who approached then- president Wilbert E. Locklin to ask if he would consider naming their softball field "Potter Field" in her honor.
"I spent forty years at Springfield College, and I loved every minute of it," Potter concludes. "While I was a student, and a teacher, I tried to give with service. Now that I am doing my post- retirement planning, I have put Springfield College in my will. With no family to have to provide for, it makes me feel good to know that I can help my 'other' family, my College one. This place gave me the preparation I needed to have amazing opportunities and experiences, and I want to support that process in the lives of the other students and teachers who come next. I was tossed the Springfield College ball. I caught it. And now it's my great joy to be able to throw it on as hard as I can."
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