Woman to Watch: Jane Possee
Arlene Hisiger Democrat and Chronicle Nov. 11, 2014 Updated Jan. 16, 2015
(Photo: Keith Bullis/, Provided photo)
In 1975, when Jane Possee signed on to coach the University of Rochester's women's basketball and field hockey teams, the state of women's sports was quite different than it is today. From the outset, Possee was determined to effect change.
"When I started, there were very few (athletic) opportunities for women in the spring, other than tennis," says Possee, now an athletic administrator. "So I started a women's lacrosse team, which meant that I was coaching three different team sports."
The differences between women's and men's teams at UR were significant: two different programs, two different gyms, two different levels of team travel, accommodations and budget. It was three years after the Title IX anti-discrimination act was passed, and Possee seized the chance to advocate for women's sports.
Possee played a major role in opening up new opportunities for the university's female athletes, such as daily practice schedules, use of the alumni gym and full-time coaches.
Today, Possee is the UR's associate director for recreation. She has won numerous awards for her efforts, including the 2014 Susan B. Anthony Lifetime Achievement Award from UR, Rochester's Press-Radio Club's Jean Giambrone Service Award, and the Katherine Ley Award from the Eastern College Athletic Conference — the highest award the ECAC presents to a female athletics administrator.
Possee has been lauded as a role model for women athletes on and off the field.
She grew up in Newark, Wayne County. Her family loved the outdoors, and she competed in field hockey and basketball in high school and women's lacrosse in college.
She learned how to sail when she was 10 and participated in sailing competitions; she remains an avid sailor today.
"I think it's fantastic where women have come from — even where I came from through high school and college," Possee says.
Personal: Age 64, lives in Pittsford, married with six children.
Community activities: Active with the Sodus Bay Junior Sailing Association and former board member of the Genesee Waterways Center.
My favorite thing to do in Rochester: Shop at Wegmans.
Biggest challenge I've overcome and how I did it: Make a career change from coaching to athletic administration. When the university decided to reclassify one of the sports I was coaching and offered me an opportunity to change gears to oversee the Rochester Recreation Programs and Athletic Facilities, I called upon several mentors in these areas who met with me. For days, we talked and pored over books, charts, budgets other resources and experiences, and they assured me I could do the job. Twenty-two years later, I am still at it; love what I do; and enjoy the people I work with.
One thing I've always wanted to do but never have: Finish my Ph.D. I completed my master's degree in exercise physiology and coaching at Syracuse University and started my Ph.D. right away. We moved to Rochester to begin our careers and to start our family and I did not complete the second advanced degree.
If I could change one thing about myself it would be:
The talent I would most like to have: An aptitude in antiques.
The one thing I can't live without: My family.
My favorite movie:The Money Pit — we are about to start some home repairs.
One of my favorite sayings is: "One day at a time."
A person who has inspired me: My dad — he was a gentle leader, kind, thoughtful, patient and encouraging. He taught me perseverance, work was healthy, to think things through and look at the big picture. I miss him every day.