Adele Pack Boyd, 85, of Plymouth Meeting, a gifted athlete and much-loved college coach, teacher, and mentor, died Saturday, Jan. 27, of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at Abington Hospital.
A native of Glenside, Ms. Boyd graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1949 and Ursinus College in 1953, and earned a master’s degree in education from Temple University.
In 1954, she was hired by Cheltenham High School, where she taught English and physical education and coached the women’s field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse teams.
In 1967, Ms. Boyd joined the faculty at Ursinus College as a professor of exercise and sport science. Five years later, she took over from Eleanor Snell as the field hockey head coach, beginning a 17-year run that included 16 winning seasons. Ms. Boyd stayed at the Collegeville-based school for 34 years.
Ms. Boyd guided the Lady Bears to three consecutive second-place finishes in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national championship during the late 1970s. Her 1983 hockey squad won the Eastern College Athletic Conference title. Her teams were ranked among the top 20 in the nation, according to weekly AIAW rankings.
“Adele was one of the special women who have led Ursinus in so many ways,” said Laura Moliken, director of athletics at Ursinus. “Her contributions have been selfless; she will forever be a part of the great legacy and tradition of women’s sports here. I am grateful to have known Adele and to call her a friend.”
As a young woman, Ms. Boyd played field hockey, lacrosse, tennis, and squash, but she was a standout in field hockey and tennis.
She was a member of the Philadelphia Association Team in field hockey from 1953 to 1967. She played on the USA field hockey team from 1959 to 1967, and was its captain.
A serious tennis player, she won the women’s singles and doubles championships many times at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, where she was a member for 56 years. She defeated much younger opponents. “She was brilliant strategically. She played tennis like it was geometry. She just knew the angles,” said her friend Della J. Micah.
Later, she was a national umpire in both field hockey and lacrosse.
Ms. Boyd believed in expanding the world of her field hockey players. She took them to New Zealand, the Netherlands, Britain, Canada, and Ireland.
“I tried to make sure we went beyond Perkiomen or beyond Pottstown. We went abroad,” she said in a 2016 interview conducted by Ursinus. “Opening the doors to people and seeing what the world had to offer was neat. I’m most proud of all the people who went through the program with me.”
Candi Parry, a former field hockey player at Ursinus who coached field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse at the college level, said Ms. Boyd was the right combination of athletic know-how and people skills.
“She was an athlete herself and the complete package as a coach. That’s rare. She knew when to nudge someone and when to back off. She came to our weddings. She was everything you would want as your kid’s coach.”
Former student Debbie Ryan said Ms. Boyd was a “fantastic” field hockey coach. “She was one of those people that were able to inspire someone to do so much more than they thought they could. There wasn’t one person that didn’t love Adele. She knew the players – what they liked and didn’t like. She was extremely fair, and someone who could bring out the best in you and knew how to handle you.”
Ryan went on to a career as a women’s basketball coach at the University of Virginia. “Adele inspired me to be who I was as a women’s basketball coach,” she said. “My experience at Ursinus was so positive.”
In 1993, Ms. Boyd received the Heritage Award, given by the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in recognition of her contributions to the growth of women’s athletics.
An inaugural member of the United States Field Hockey Association Hall of Fame, she also is enshrined in the Ursinus College Hall of Fame for Athletes, the Cheltenham High School Hall of Fame, and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
Ms. Boyd retired in 2001 as a professor emeritus and associate director of athletics at Ursinus. In retirement, she traveled widely and volunteered at the William Jeanes Memorial Library in Plymouth Meeting, and the Conshohocken Free Library.
In addition to her friend Micah, she is survived a cousin, Dr. Robert Parsons Sr.
A celebration of life will be held at noon Sunday, May 20, at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, 415 W. Willow Grove Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19118. Burial is private.
Memorial donations may be made to the Asplundh Cancer Pavilion, c/o Abington Health Foundation, 1200 Old York Rd., Abington, Pa. 19001, or to Ursinus College, 601 E. Main St., Corson Hall, Collegeville, Pa. 19426, Attn: Advancement Office.