Bee, a Seattle native who adds that it’s the “best city in the country”, was approached over 10 years ago by the men’s basketball coaching staff at Seattle U for bookkeeping help for their summer camps.
Soon thereafter, the team decided to have one of their first major fundraising auctions, which Bee became very involved in planning.
“We had over 400 attendees at that first one. We raised over three times as much money as we’d anticipated and it was really successful.”
After getting more involved and meeting more people in athletics, the role of Faculty Athletics Representative was suggested to her and after the then-FAR stepped down, “I finally got my shot”, she remembers.
On top of her main gig as a senior lecturer in Seattle U’s Albers School of Business and Economics, also serving as advisor for the Beta Alpha Psi honors fraternity, her primary role as FAR has been to serve as an “advocate for the student-athlete and bridge the gap between athletics and academics.”
One not-as-fun part of the job is “certifying a lot of things. I sign…everything,” she said with a laugh. She continues, “I’ve had things faxed to me in Eastern Washington, Hawaii, Europe. Certifications, athletic advisory board, student-athlete advocate, but my favorite part is going to games and matches.”
“I found women’s basketball to be thrilling this year; I went to a lot of their games and was never disappointed. But I’m a little old for my heart to be racing that fast.”
“It’s also really been exciting to go to KeyArena and watch men’s basketball and think ‘This is the big time!’ I’ve also really enjoyed doing senior exit interviews. It’s only unfortunate that, at the end of their career, I finally really get to know them.”
Interacting with the student-athletes on a personal level outside of competition is also among some of her favorite memories.
“It sure wasn’t signing all those pieces of paper,” she quips. “I really admire the student-athletes. I think about all the things I have to do, but they’re balancing a really rigorous academic schedule with Division I athletics and all the demands on their time that come with that. Our student-athletes are academically very good and win awards all the time. I really respect and admire them.”
Though she remarks “I don’t think there’s any amount of training or coaching that would turn me into a college athlete,” she loves being active and even got married on cross country skis.
“My guests had to snowshoe two miles to our wedding, and that was after an eight mile snowmobile ride.”
A frequent international traveler, particularly to Ghana, Africa, one of her favorite trips was in December 2011 when she had the opportunity to take Allegra Wilde (softball) and Ariel Johnson (track & field) to participate in the Africa Start-Up program.
Bee had a grant to take the trip and invited Wilde and Johnson along because they were both accounting majors and she had, thus, formed a special relationship with them as both their professor and FAR.
While in Ghana, the group learned from and helped local business owners create a model that could be duplicated throughout Africa’s small business communities, empowering them to take ownership of poverty alleviation efforts.
As Johnson noted at the time, “Seattle University has taught me that we need to help those in need, whether small or large, any help is better than none. I can’t explain in words how beautiful this trip was.”
Wilde agreed that “Africa Start-Up portrays what this University is all about – creating leaders for a just and humane world with a focus on social justice” and credited Bee saying that she’d had “a tremendous impact on my education.”
Reflecting on the trip, Bee said “I love taking students over there and I think Allegra and Ariel really got it. I think the fact that they were student-athletes made them resilient and flexible, so nothing phased them. They never complained…and there were things to complain about. But everything was an adventure. I think that’s part of the whole psyche – it wasn’t the first time they’ve faced adversity.”
Despite the extreme joy she found in interacting with the student-athletes, she felt the need to step down from her position as FAR, effective this summer, as she will remain a professor, among her other academic duties.
“I go to Africa twice a year. I’m the director of a new program in our accounting department. I had five distinctly major activities that I do and I thought ‘Why don’t I give someone else the joy of doing this?’ It wasn’t because I was tired of it; it was just competing things for my time.”
Just because she won’t directly be involved with the athletic department in this capacity, she certainly still plans to attend athletic events saying that she’d “love to get more faculty members to go to games.”
Taking this position six years ago fit right in with the way Bee lives her life by “taking advantage of almost every opportunity”.
For the incoming Faculty Athletics Rep, her best advice would be to “get to know the student-athletes. It’s really easy to get caught up in all the paperwork; there is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. But they’re where the joy in this job is. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”