Anna Westervelt, 100, pioneer athlete

Anna J. Westervelt

Anna Jackson Westervelt, 100, of Drexel Hill, a pioneer athlete and coach in women's sports who was a member of the U.S. field hockey team in the late 1940s and early 1950s, died Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Southampton Estates care facility in Bucks County.

Mrs. Westervelt, known as "Jackie," was a star in three sports before her skill in field hockey led her to national recognition.

At Upper Darby High School, she lettered in swimming, where she was undefeated in the backstroke; track and field; and field hockey. At what is now West Chester University, Mrs. Westervelt won a mid-Atlantic championship in the high jump and hurdles.

But her skill with a stick ushered Mrs. Westervelt onto the national stage at a time when opportunities for women athletes were scarce.

She played club hockey in an amateur league while working as a physical education teacher and was tapped to be part of the U.S. field hockey team in 1948. She played for the national team through 1952. Mrs. Westervelt was inducted into USA Field Hockey's Hall of Fame as an honorary member in 1974.

Born in Upper Darby, Mrs. Westervelt grew up with a brother, Robert Jackson, who was also a multisport athlete and inspired her to compete.

After earning a bachelor's degree in physical education at West Chester in 1937, Mrs. Westervelt returned to her high school to teach. She taught health and physical education while coaching girls' basketball and field hockey.

Mrs. Westervelt took a break from teaching and competition after she married Frederick "Ted" Westervelt, who played shortstop with a Chicago White Sox farm team until his career was ended by a shoulder injury. The couple raised two sons and then Mrs. Westervelt returned to the athletic fields.

She was a coach, manager, and referee for the U.S. field hockey team and helped plan certification programs for coaches, said son Richard.

Mrs. Westervelt spent several years with what is now the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, he said. She operated hockey camps and opened a sports equipment supply company, which she ran for about 15 years.

Mrs. Westervelt was inducted into the West Chester University Golden Rams Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and the Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fame, an honor she shared with her husband, who died in 1986.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Westervelt is survived by son Thomas and three grandchildren.

Services and burial were private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Philadelphia 19106.


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