MARGE MEISS VAN SLYKE
Marge Meiss Van Slyke never met a sport she didn't love and excel at.
Except, maybe, for golf !
“Hit a ball, chase it, hit it again, chase it, hit it, chase it, hit it, chase it - never made a lot of sense to me…but then my first sport was speed skating when I was just a little kid. Skating around in circles, I guess, didn't make that much sense either, did it?”
Marge loved being a team player, she loved sports and she loved competing. She still does, but now with three grandchildren all active in sports, “Grandma doesn't have time for a lot of sports, except for bocce.”
An outstanding multi-sport athlete and the ultimate team player, Marge is also being honored by the Rome Sports Hall of Fame for her commitment to the community, and for that she is particularly grateful. “It's very satisfying and rewarding to think that what I did as a way to giving back to the community I love has been a factor in my election to the Rome Sports Hall of Fame.”
A story goes with it.
Marge was a very good baseball player, but “back then” (the ‘50s) girls weren't allowed to play Little League. “My dad let me practice with the team, but I couldn't play.”
More than twenty years later, they still weren't.
Marge, by then, had a daughter, Laura, who was an excellent ballplayer. Marge appealed to the closest Little League official she knew, her dad, George Meiss, a founder of the Rome Little League program, and a LL official. “Sorry, Marge”, he said, “but girls aren't allowed yet. Why don't you do something about it? You're smart.”
More interested in results than protest, Marge get together with some friends and founded the Rome Girl's Softball Association which today is extraordinarily successful and popular with hundreds of young female athletes. Field Four at the Bell Road complex is named in her honor.
Marge's exploits in sports began with the long walk from her Highland Avenue home to Franklyn’s Field where she became Rome's Junior Olympic speed skating champion at all distances from dashes to sprints in 1955 and 1956. She also participated in every sport available to her at the Rome Women's Club, where she got lots of encouragement, and then at RFA from such iconic figures as Irene O'Shea, Ruth Solan and Ruth Demers. Marge played softball, field hockey, volleyball and basketball during her high school years, but those activities were quite limited.
“We didn't have uniforms (they wore those antique blue bloomer outfits) or much in the way of official organization, but we had great teachers and coaches who helped us develop.”
By the way, Marge's mother, the former Cora Pickard, also played “varsity” basketball at RFA, in what must have been the deep, dark ages.
Following her 1958 RFA graduation, Marge played and coached in the Adirondack Softball league, coached for the Rome Girls Softball Association, got actively involved in bowling, and in 2011 was elected to the Rome Women's Bowling Association Hall of Fame for her active participation as a league official, outstanding bowler and willing volunteer.
From bowling to bocce and curling, where Marge also excelled and won multiple championships.
All of this while, for 32 years, Marge was a very successful and active Rome businesswoman, owning and operating her own furniture refinishing company.
Marge describes herself as “100 percent Roman and proud of it! Romans are great people with a terrific work ethic.”
Marge says she always thought the Rome Sports Hall of Fame was mainly about college and professional athletes.
No, Marge, the Rome Sports Hall of Fame is for people involved in sports who have lived a LIFETIME OF EXCELENCE.
You are eminently qualified.