For nearly three decades, Virginia (Ginny) Hawke has waited for her old Navy barracks across Massachussets Avenue to be torn down.
She's finally given up.
Hawke will retire in May after 27 years with the American University physical education department. Her major disappointment while at the Northwest Washington institutions was the failure of the school to build a fieldhouse instead of housing its athletic facilities in the antiquated, converted naval quarters where Hawke was stationed as a WAVE during World War II.
"My statement umpteen years ago was I wouldn't be here long enough to see a new facility . . . and boy was I right," said Hawke, who resides at 6021 Avon Dr. in Bethesda. "I hope I"ll be able to come in my wheelchair and see the groundbreaking for the new fieldhouse."
Hawke doesn't dwell on the one negative note of her many years at AU; rather, she has fond memories and humorous tales to tell of her tenure at American.
For instance, in 1945, when Hawke was stationed at what is now AU's Cassell Center, she faced the problem of transporting a civilian Washington Field Hockey Association (WFHA) team to Plainfield, N.J., when military personnel werr given travel priority because of the war. Hawke and her friend Mona Mohns, the only other member of the service on the squad, gathered as much equipment as they could hold, boarded their train, and paraded down the aisle, placing hockey sticks and other paraphenalia on a dozen seats.
Hawke doesn't remember any of the other passengers saying a word. "We were having too much fun to notice," said Hawke, who has never married. "We thought we were so clever."
Hawke, who is 60, is not retiring because she is tired of her job, though she admittedly will not miss filling out personnel reports and grading papers. She would like to spend more time at her cottage on the Chesapeake Bay and sailing on her 11 1/2-foot boat. She also plans to travel through all 50 states and Bermuda, and "then I'll look to Scandinavia or something," she said.
After leaving the Navy, Hawke served as a girl's physical education instructor at Eastern High School in Northeast Washington in 1946 and at Wilson High School in Northwest D.C. from 1947-50.
Finally, in 1950, she received the college position she desired when she was put in charge of women's physical education at American. She coashed as many as six teams a year until being made administrator of physical education in 1965.
"I had a hard time when I was to meeting where the volleyball coaches and basketball coaches would speak," said Hawke. "I was representing them all. I didn't have enough hats." (The brusque manner she developed for getting things done led her to call herself the "witch of Clendenen" - the tiny theater-gym where her office is located.)
Hawke has watched the growth of women's sports, from 1946, when women's varsity athletics virtually didn't exist to the recent boom caused by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which guarantees women equality in athletic opportunity.
Hawke, however, sees herself as a realist compared to many of her counterparts, who want immediate, vast improvements in women's sports, despite the cost.
"I think most of it is right and proper," said Hawke, a native of Ohio. "I think some of the women move too fast - some of the demands are too much. Title 1X came along and demanded 'Thou shalt!' Where does the money come from?
"I think it was long overdue," she added. "I think it was sacrilege, the boys getting all the money and the girls gettingnone."
Away from AU, Hawke is best know by area field hockey enthusiasts. Hawke served for three years as president of the WFHA and one year for the regional Southeastern Field Hockey Association.
Field hockey is a sport played primarily by women in the United States, which was a major factor in Hawke's attraction to the game. "That's why I liked hockey," she siaid. "We didn't have to fight the men for the hockey field."
At, AU, Hawke's departure will create a noticeable void in the physical education department.
"I've been around for only 10 of (Hawke's) 27 years, but I'll tell you it'll be darn lonesome around here without her," said Barbara Reimann, American's women's field hockey and swimming coach. "She's the kind of person who will volunteer to do something for you. And she also has the quality forfinding the best in someone. She always has something good to say."