Shermans collection leaves legacy
You won't find any signs leading you to the Judy Sherman Museum. If you ask most people in the Pacific Athletic Center, they'll say such a place doesn't exist.
Ah, but it does. Downstairs in the PAC, just as you enter the women's locker room, turn left at the nondescript white door with the sign, 'Coach's Locker Room.'
Okay, so if you open the door it doesn't look like much of a museum at all. If you can dig through the musty smell and the endless stack of empty boxes piled in front of the single row of lockers, however, you will find nearly 40 years of memories and history.
There truly is a little of everything. An old wooden fungo bat. A box of old uniforms rescued from the 2000 remodel of the athletic complex. Newspaper clippings, including one featuring field hockey's resurgence in Forest Grove. Piles of papers from Sherman's two-plus decades as either women's athletic director or athletic director. Even an old Reader's Digest joke book.
Some of the more prized exhibits in the Judy Sherman Museum, such as the old softball championship brackets, picture albums and her myriad Coach of the Year plaques, have already been relocated. The front room of her home is now not only an exercise room, but the museum's newest wing.
Most women keep cedar hope chests full of memories of their children. Judy Sherman's hope chest is in the basement - made of cinder blocks and concrete, holding the memories of hundreds of children from her many teams.
But like Sherman's career as a Boxer, the lid on this hope chest is about to close for good.
Sherman turned in her keys on June 30 after 39 years in the Pacific athletic department. She started in 1967 as a part-time assistant coach and, one year later, hit the big time when she was given an office in Pacific's old wooden gymnasium: a condemned third floor classroom. Not safe for the students, she remembers, but obviously safe enough for a coach.
It is in that old classroom that her collection began. Much of it, however, was out of necessity and not for sentimentality.
Sherman began coaching in the days before Title IX, which provided equal opportunities in athletics for women. That translated to almost no budget for purchasing supplies for women's teams or any travel expenses for the minimal intercollegiate schedule.
That reality meant Sherman scrimped and saved anything she could to outfit her teams: castoff bats from the baseball team, uniforms worn well past their prime, old hockey sticks held together with copious amounts of athletic tape and catcher's masks of similar repair.
Even well into the 1990s, Sherman was afraid to throw any piece of equipment or any shred of paper away. 'You never know when you might need it,' was a common battle cry.
Thankfully times have changed. Women's sports at Pacific are afforded adequate funding. Her beloved softball program, now under the tutelage of Tim Hill, plays with two sets of uniforms that are replaced every three years under athletic department guidelines and a liberal supply of aluminum bats. You will still find, however, a couple of sets of the early 1980s era, skin-tight softball jerseys in nooks and crannies of the PAC for old time's sake.
The most important part of the Judy Sherman Museum will live on in the PAC for many years to come. Her legacy of excellence, especially for a woman in collegiate athletics, is hard to match. The energy and passion for her hometown's school shows on every wall and in every program.
On top of it all is the care and attention she showed to every athlete she coached, exhibited when over 50 of her 'children' returned to Pacific in early June for a final salute to their mentor. All of it was organized by one of her two real children, Vicki McGee, who now works as the athletic department secretary.
With Sherman's retirement, though, it means that the museum and its contents must clear out. It didn't happen by June 30, which isn't a surprise considering how much stuff was also piled in her office. So slowly but surely, with McGee's help, the old coach will pack up many things, throw away others and send even more to be stored in school's athletic archives.
Soon that room will be empty for the first time in decades, and when it does Pacific will never be the same.