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Beach Connection: Volunteer Spotlight

Marilyn Yee

John McConnell









Tell us a little about your journey to CSULB and how you became a lifelong 49er?
After serving in the US Marine Corp I went and graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell College in Iowa in 1948. After that I coached Junior College and High School sports before obtaining my Master’s Degree from Purdue University in 1949. From there I decided to continue pursuing my education and got entered the Doctorate program at the University of Iowa. It was during this time I crossed paths with Dr. Peterson, president of Long Beach State College. He was on a recruiting trip through the United States and he gave me an interview. I remember he kept checking his watch and thinking that I did not leave a favorable impression on him. It turns out Dr. Peterson was only waiting for a taxi to take him to the last train out to Chicago. After my commencement ceremony, my wife and two sons, ages 3 and six months, we packed our suitcases and headed out to sunny California.
It turned out that I was in the right place at the right time. The college experienced rapid growth and I was able to advance professionally in a way that would not be possible today. I was hired in 1953 and initially brought on to start the baseball program in 1954. Among the challenges that first year, when we were ready to start practices the field wasn’t ready for us, so we had to commute to Whaley Park for practices. Thus we were the perennial visiting team that first season. Another challenge was we only had a roster of about 14 players which made it difficult to conduct an intra-squad practice.
In 1954 I also became the assistant basketball coach. After coaching those first few years I was offered a position to become an administrative assistant in Athletics, in 1958. I took a brief hiatus to be the Men’s Physical Education Department Chair from 1962-1964. I became the Student Teaching Coordinator from 1965-1969, before finally accepting the position as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the school of Applied Arts and Sciences, which I held until my retirement in 1986.


Why did you become a volunteer for the Alumni Association?
Over those 32 years I made numerous connections and I developed friendships that have lasted until this day. I have attended many reunions of former baseball and football players and meet regularly with a group of retired faculty. It feels like to me that Long Beach State selected me and for that I am grateful. It is an overused, maybe trite phrase, but I wanted to give something back.

When you are not volunteering, what are some of your hobbies?
In the past my family and I traveled extensively to places like Alaska and Hawaii. One of my favorite things to do is see LBSU athletes in action. So my wife and I attend almost all the athletic events including baseball, basketball, volleyball, etc. When I am not rooting on the LBSU men and women, I enjoy reading. I am currently in the process of updating my book, Cooperstown by the Numbers: An Analysis of Baseball Hall of Fame Elections, in the hope that the publisher will see fit to print a second edition. Since it was first published, I have been telling my friends that the book is a guaranteed cure for insomnia.

What advice would you give to other alumni or parents who would like to be more involved with CSULB?
My advice is do not hesitate to offer your services. There are numerous amounts of opportunities available and numerous amounts of friendly staff that would be happy to utilize your efforts. It is worth the time as you will meet people with like interests and pride in the school.

What are some of your favorite events to volunteer for?
I am currently serving on the Golden Graduate Committee as the faculty representative, and have been since the program’s inception in 2009. The committee brainstorms ideas and helps to organize for the Golden Graduate Celebration and Reunion that takes place in the fall. I am one of the oldest active faculty members, so I felt motivated to stay active and help out with the program. With my interest in Athletics, it seemed natural also to help with CSULB sports, so I am also on the board of the 49er Athletic Club as well as a member of the Director’s Circle.

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