Coach Lila Frommelt (left) was a pioneer in women's sports — at Briar Cliff, around Siouxland and beyond. She died in 2003.
The thing I remember most about the late Lila Frommelt was her tireless advocacy for women’s athletics, specifically golf.
Lila, whom I considered a close friend, could spend hours on the subject, whether you wanted to hear it or not. But when she spoke, more times than not, people listened. I know I did.
The world lost a jewel of a person when Lila passed away on Sept. 28, 2003.
Her legacy, however, lives on.
Just last week, the 10th annual Lila Frommelt Memorial Golf Classic at Sioux City Country Club raised nearly $50,000 for Briar Cliff’s annual scholarship fund.
Yes, Briar Cliff was her passion.
She first came to Briar Cliff in 1952 when there were no intercollegiate sports. Lila taught physical education both at Briar Cliff and in the catholic school system. She coached women’s golf from 1972 to 1999 and in that era, the Chargers rose to prominence, winning nine District 15 championships, one AIAW Region Six crown and 13 straight Io-Kota Conference titles.
Check out photos from the 10th Annual Lila Frommelt Classic on the Briar Cliff University Facebook Page »
“She had the biggest heart and was an advocate for women’s athletics, women’s rights, everything,” said Melea (Mullally) Raveling, one of Frommelt’s prize pupils at Briar Cliff. “She was so funny, always a joy to be around. A lot of times I would go over to her house and play cards. She was so fun to talk and be with. It’s hard to explain how wonderful it was. She is definitely missed, I think about her all the time.”
Raveling, a 1995 BC graduate, was a junior when Frommelt realized a dream when the first Sprint-NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship was played at Two Rivers Golf Club.
“She tried to get NAIA team national golf going for years,” reflected Raveling. “We would compete in NCAA Division II and III national tournaments but finally, when I was a junior, she got her dream of having an NAIA tournament.”
Briar Cliff was represented at every national championship since the NAIA meet’s inception in 1994 through her final season. At the 1998 tournament, Frommelt became the first coach inducted into the NAIA Women’s Golf Hall of Fame.
“The things she would teach you about life in general were so far advanced. She was way ahead of her time.”
— Melea (Mulally) Raveling ('95), on her former Coach Frommelt
“She always taught us that what you got from golf, you had to give back,” said Raveling, who succeeded Frommelt as Briar Cliff coach. “She was big on seeing her girls give back to the community. We were always taught to respect the course and the people who made it possible for us to do these things.”
Raveling went on to become a PGA teaching professional at Lake Creek Country Club in her native Storm Lake, Iowa.
While she was still coaching at Briar Cliff in 1999, the Briar Cliff Invitational was renamed the Briar Cliff/Lila Frommelt Classic.
Lila Frommelt was inducted into the Briar Cliff University Hall of Fame in 2000 and in 2001 was bestowed the Alumni Appreciation Award.
Through the years, Frommelt was involved in volunteer work throughout the community, especially the education of children with physical and mental disabilities.
“I remember taking some of her classes and the stuff she would talk about in dealing with children,” Raveling said. “The things she would teach you about life in general were so far advanced. She was way ahead of her time.”
Raveling became emotional when recalling one of the final conversations she had with her beloved coach.
“She told me when she dies she will walk her fairway,” Raveling said. “All the people she has met and everyone she’s been around will line her fairway. I told her, coach, that will be the longest fairway ever.”
© 2014, Sioux City Journal. Reprinted with permission.