Falcon Focus on Janet Hammersmith
Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Records Manager, Janet Hammersmith, is a life-long fan of athletics on campus. Taking a trip to her office in the Education building reveals her love of sport and BG. “I was born and raised in Bowling Green, I went to college here. I’m a graduate of the university,” Hammersmith said. Her family going back to her parents, have all attended BGSU and earned degrees from the university in the process.
One of the constants in her life since her time as a student here has been the athletics. Growing up in the area afforded her the opportunity to experience everything Bowling Green sports have to offer. Athletics was something her parents introduced to her when she was younger. “In general, athletics have always been a part of my life. My parents were season ticket holders and we would always go,” she said. This familiarity is something that has fostered itself over the years and now the result is a connectedness with the sports.
An avid sports fan, she attends many games a year. When asked what some of the things are that she likes about Bowling Green athletics, she said, “I think athletics adds a lot to the community. They have a lot of energy; the games are a lot of fun to go to.”
Her experiences capture some of the best times in the school’s history. Reflecting on a few of them, she mentions, “My very favorite moment was when we won the National Championship in 1984.” Something like that doesn’t happen very often, especially at a school the size of Bowling Green, so to be able to experience it is a particularly unique situation. She even had class with a few of the players from that team.
Another memory that captures Hammersmith’s love of Bowling Green athletics would be the time she went to the Sweet 16 match-up featuring the Bowling Green Women’s Basketball team. According to the Falcons website, “The 2006-07 Falcons became the first Mid-American Conference team ever to advance to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Championships, and BGSU also became the first-ever MAC basketball team, men or women, to win more than 30 games.” Hammersmith and her family went to Greensborough, North Carolina to watch the historic event and received an interview while in attendance.
Hockey isn’t the only sport that Hammersmith enjoys. She and her husband, Tim Hammersmith, routinely attend a multitude of events. When describing his wife’s love of sport, Tim said, “We live sports. Our whole family lives sports. My wife, my son, my daughter, me. Everything. Especially BG, we enjoy the life of Bowling Green sport.”
The couple are season ticket holders for hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and football. Most people know who they are and when asked what type of interactions she now has with the team, she acknowledged that perks were not as much as you think, although the hockey team did deliver her tickets personally to her door this year.
Her passion for sports transcends just viewing them as a spectator. She played competitively when she was younger. “I played tennis and volleyball and I tried out for the eighth-grade basketball team,” she said, “I was probably one of the tallest girls in the whole darn school and they would not put me on the team. I really wanted to play.”
All hope is not lost, however, as Hammersmith now fulfilled her hoop dreams in the drive way with her kids. Showing off her humorous side, she said, “You know the game you play in the driveway? Horse or whatever? Well my son gets the word P-I-G, my daughter gets the word H-O-R-S-E, and I get the word H-A-M-M-E-R-S-M-I-T-H. So, I get a lot of letters and I get eleven letters and I still finish last.”
Her work in the Education office has allowed her to work with many students, going over their requirements for graduation, but she mentioned one student. He was a hockey player who came to the office and was unsure about if he was going to finish and get his degree from BGSU. After a helpful conversation, the student-athlete finished and still was hesitant about walking across the stage. Obviously working so hard and not getting recognition for it did not sit well with Hammersmith. She encouraged him to walk. After he said he wasn’t sure still, “I signed his name and said, ‘well you’re going to have to tell somebody else no,’” she said.
Her persistence paid off: he walked across the stage. “He’s walking off the stage and he puts his arms out looking for a big hug and I did not know I was standing right in front of his mother, who had come all the way from British Columbia,” she shared. After the two formally met, the mom thanked Hammersmith for being the reason her son decided to come back and finish and walk across the stage. “That was a real high point for me,” she said.
Hammersmith is a real difference maker in life. Even her co-workers acknowledge her efforts. Marianne Geisbuhler, fellow BGSU employee, said of Hammersmith, “Janet is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s got a big heart and she is extremely experienced in what she does. She does it extremely well.”