Marilyn Field describes herself as a tomboy. For this reason, when she was a child, she loved to play anything that was sports-related. Since she was raised before girls had the opportunity to play team sports, she never received the training she needed to fully learn them.
After her college softball coach told her she was a cross-handed batter, Field realized she wanted to make a difference for women and girls in sports. So she changed her major to recreation. After graduation, she found herself employed as the recreation supervisor for the city of Menlo Park. She later came to Lodi and was employed by the city's Parks and Recreation Department, where she was instrumental in building athletic programs for women and girls. For her contributions in athletics, Field, 74, was chosen as an inductee for the Lodi Community Hall of Fame.
Field feels very humbled by the award. There are so many employees, volunteers and parents who work together to get things done, she said.
"I'm just a symbol of what can be done when everyone gets together and goes for a common goal," she said.
Mike Reese, a recreation manager for Lodi Parks and Recreation who worked with Field, said her leadership is what made these common goals possible.
"She led the way in creating, establishing and improving the activities that made the Parks and Recreation Department an essential community service," he said in the nomination papers.
Other inductees this year include Keith Land, who served on the Lodi City Council and was mayor in 1999, for his contribution in government; the Phillips family, a six-generation farming family in Lodi, for their contribution to agriculture; Janice Roth, who has been a long time member of several community organizations, for her contribution to community service; and Gwin Mitchell Paden, who was a teacher and a reporter and served in various community organizations, for her contributions in the community and for her service at large.
During her 31 years of employment with the city, Field not only helped organize and supervise athletic programs, but also initiated the youth soccer program, co-led the late night basketball program and started the summer swim league.
Ed DeBenedetti, who was Field's supervisor, said when he would ask her to do something, she never turned a job down. She helped him in a number of ways, including getting the girls sports programs going, he said.
"It wasn't until we were able to get her that we made good strides in that area," he said.
One of the highlights of her job was when she worked with Mel Enze, who served as the first president and coach of the summer swim league, Field said. She enjoyed watching him take the program from only 45 youths to a program that is now in the hundreds.
Field also had the opportunity to mentor others who went on to have careers in recreation. Reese says her can-do enthusiasm spread to many people in various walks of life. His own professional career was greatly benefited by her mentoring, he said.
Field enjoyed seeing others get the satisfaction she got out of working with the youth, teens and adults.
"There are so few opportunities to be involved with the total community," she said. "I've often said it was like working from the cradle to grave."
During her time with the city, Field was also in charge of the children's summer theater and band programs and coordinated the youth and adult art classes with the Lodi Art Center. She has always been envious of anyone who can get up on stage and act and says it is important for children to have that experience as well.
"Not everyone wants to be an athlete, but may have the creativity and the desire to go into drama," she said.
For 10 years, Field served as the adviser to the Lodi Teen Center, where she helped coodinate dances after high school football and basketball games. The center also provided scholarships for both male and female outstanding seniors. She enjoyed being involved in what she calls the tough interest age group.
"Being a part of it was fantastic," she said.
Field was born in Hanford. She graduated from Fremont High School in 1953. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in recreation from San Jose State University in 1957, and completed her graduate study in recreation administration from the University of the Pacific in the 1970s.
She also received a business administration degree from the University of San Francisco. She worked as the recreation supervisor for the city of Menlo Park and then the city of Stockton before her 31-year stint with the city of Lodi. While employed by the city of Lodi, she enjoyed the opportunity to work with DeBenedetti, who she said never said no to a program or activity.
"He always found the money to get the job done. He was a remarkable boss," she said.
The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Lodi Boys and Girls Club. Inductees will be honored at a dinner and program scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Boys and Girls Club headquarters, 275 Poplar St., near the corner of Stockton St. Tickets are $45 each and may be purchased by calling the club at 334-2697.