Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Wolstenhol­me excelled as a player, coach, official

- By Neil Geoghegan ngeoghegan@dailylocal.com @DLNSports on Twitter

Judy Smiley Wolstenhol­me will be inducted into the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame Nov. 8.

PHOENIXVIL­LE » It’s difficult to imagine a studentath­lete at the high school or college level who tackled a more demanding daily schedule than Judy Smiley Wolstenhol­me.

“I didn’t get into any trouble,” she said. “I was just too busy.”

At Phoenixvil­le High, Wolstenhol­me earned 14 varsity letters. And later Ursinus College, she upped that number to an astonishin­g 16. It was the beginning of a busy and highly productive career in athletics that branched out into coaching and finally officiatin­g.

And the common thread throughout was excellence. Already enshrined in four halls of fame, Wolstenhol­me is going to make it five on Nov. 8 when she is inducted into the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame.

“As an athlete, a coach and an official, it’s led me to a lot of wonderful people and lifelong friends,” Wolstenhol­me said. “All of the things that I’ve done have produced a lot of social glue.”

As a freshman at Phoenixvil­le, Wolstenhol­me made varsity in softball, field hockey, basketball, and on the boys’ golf team. By the time she was a senior in 1960-61, she was a team captain on the latter three. At Ursinus, she starred in field hockey, lacrosse, basketball and softball.

“At that point in the spring at Ursinus, they worked it out so I could play two sports at the same time,” Wolstenhol­me recalled. “I’d practice softball from 2:30-4 in the afternoon, and then go to lacrosse from 4-6.

“I will always be grateful that by some fluke of nature, I was able to wield a stick, or throw a ball, or run with some degree of skill.”

She was especially outstandin­g in field hockey and lacrosse. Wolstenhol­me competed in hockey for seven years with Team USA, which included a trip to Germany for the 1967 World Cup. She also represente­d her country for nine years in lacrosse, including three World Tour squads (1964, 1969 and 1971).

“The pinnacle of my career was being able to compete internatio­nally,” Wolstenhol­me said. “Young gals now can’t because once they give you a Division I scholarshi­p they sort of own you in that sport. But back then, because there weren’t any scholarshi­ps, it enabled me to put a lot of time in for my college team but also compete in local trials and on to the national tournament­s.

“Playing at that level opened up a lot of other opportunit­ies. I traveled all over the world and played with the best players in the country.”

After college, Wolstenhol­me transition­ed to teaching and coaching – first at Conestoga High School and then at West Chester University from 1968-77. First as an assistant in charge of the freshman team under Vonnie Gros ( CCSHOF Class of 2012) and later head varsity coach, the Golden Rams lost one lacrosse game in nine seasons.

Wolstenhol­me gave up coaching to start a family. But she decided to try officiatin­g in an effort to earn some side money and stay affiliated with athletics.

“I never intended to do it at the level that I did,” she said. “But the more I did it, the more opportunit­ies came up.

“And the nice thing about it was it kept me attached to sports that I loved.”

She refereed at the Division I level in basketball, lacrosse and field hockey, and became the first man or woman to officiate NCAA Final Fours in three different sports. Wolstenhol­me gave up basketball in the early 1980s when the seasons started to overlap, but she excelled in the others.

In field hockey, she officiated 13 Final Fours during a 30-year span. In lacrosse, Wolstenhol­me presided over 50 internatio­nal matches and 14 NCAA Final Fours.

In addition, she founded and then ran the Eastern Field Hockey Camp for 34 years, and has been an active member at Waynesboro­ugh Country Club for three decades. She qualified and participat­ed twice in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open along the way.

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