Helen Jane Sears, J43 — Basketball, Field Hockey, Golf, Tennis - 2020 Inductee

Introduction of Helen Jane Sears, presented by Tina Mattera, Tufts Head Field Hockey Coach

Can I just say what a great night this is for Tufts Athletics? I’m so impressed by all the men and women being honored tonight. And as a former student-athlete and the current coach of the Tufts field hockey team, I’m really excited about the induction of so many impressive female athletes representing teams from the 1940s, the 1970’s, the 2000’s and the 2010’s – including, of course, the 2012 field hockey team that was my extreme pleasure to coach.

The new heights our women’s teams have reached in the last 10-20 years wouldn't be possible without the trail-blazing women who came before them - women like Helen Jane Sears. All of us who enjoy success now owe a debt of gratitude to the women like Jane who advocated for – and then took advantage of -- increased opportunities for women in sports prior to Title IX.

Before coming to Tufts, Jane was a standout athlete at Thayer Academy in nearby Braintree, Massachusetts in the late 1930’s. For her many achievements there, Jane was inducted into the Thayer Academy Athletics Hall of Fame.

Upon arriving at Jackson College at Tufts, Jane immediately established herself as a one of our first multi-sport female athletes. By the time she graduated in 1943, she earned 12 varsity letters in field hockey, basketball, field hockey and tennis. She also participated in Yacht Club, played golf, and was active in student government, sorority activities, and several clubs. Thanks in part to Jane and her contemporaries, Jackson College had more women’s varsity teams in the mid-1940’s than most of the other colleges in the area. And while the athletics record-keeping for Jackson College are sorely lacking for the 1940s, we can say with certainty that Jane was a campus leader in every sense of the word.

It should be noted that Jane’s dedication to sports and fitness activity didn’t end when she graduated. Just out of college, Jane became the first female director of the YMCA in Boston by founding the West Roxbury branch. And throughout her life, while working as a guidance counselor at Milton High School, Jane was a fixture at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill and could often be found sculling on the Charles as a member of the Cambridge Boat Club.

Jane passed away in 2011. For four years in the 1940s, Jane helped begin a movement at Tufts that continues today. In recognition of her many accomplishments as a Jackson athlete, Jane received the Tufts Jumbo Club Award in 1999. And tonight, we are very proud to induct Helen Jane Sears into the Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame.