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Living Legend

Letitia (Tish) Loveless on a tennis court

Tish on the playing surface where her teams won 23 conference titles

On Saturday, September 12, Kalamazoo College will pause in its busy orientation week to honor a living legend: Professor Emerita, Coach Emerita, and Women’s Athletic Director Emerita Letitia (Tish) Loveless, Ph.D.

On that day the College will dedicate the “Tish Loveless Court” in the Anderson Athletic Center. A continental breakfast reception and court dedication will occur at 10 a.m. The volleyball match between K and Trine University will follow at 11 a.m.

Tish is considered the pioneer of women’s athletics at Kalamazoo College. She is the most successful coach of women’s teams in the history of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest athletic conference in the country.

Tish’s teams won 28 league championships–23 in tennis, four in archery, and one in field hockey. Her 1986 women’s tennis squad finished third in the nation.

Tish came to Kalamazoo College in 1953 as an instructor of physical education. She rose through the ranks and was named professor of physical education in 1974. When she arrived, there was not intercollegiate schedule for women. By 1978, women competed in seven varsity sports. Tish served as director of women’s athletics from 1953 to 1986. On October 30, 1992, Kalamazoo College inducted Tish into its Athletic Hall of Fame.

Letitia (Tish) Loveless participates in a field hockey practice

Tish was a hands-on coach, shown here participating in a Hornet field hockey practice

Tish believed in the benefits of competition for all persons, regardless of skill level, and she worked tirelessly to ensure an opportunity to compete for all. She added new sports and classes, and not just those that reflected her own particular interests. She paid attention to what students wanted, and she learned and taught fencing, modern dance, folk dance, social dance, and swimming. On several occasions (basketball is an example), at the urging of passionately committed students, Tish would take on the head coaching role (educating herself on the fly) in the sport’s transition phase from club sport to varsity sport. She also served as a leader in the LandSea program and, true to the liberal arts marrow of the institution to which she dedicated her career, she sang in Bach Festival chorus and participated in the Faculty Readers’ Theatre.

Tish was a trusted counselor and source of support for students and colleagues alike. Her tenure at K made a difference in the lives of countless Hornet athletes and PE students. In 2008, Elaine Hutchcroft ’63 and her late husband Alan Hutchcroft ’63 established the Tish Loveless Women’s Athletic Endowment. Both Elaine and Alan competed as Hornet athletes, and both admired Coach Loveless.

Tish Loveless is the teacher/coach/administrator/human being with whom you could place your daughter, at any age, and be absolutely certain she would receive all the right messages about her worth!