Wild retiring after 33 years at Ellsworth Middle School
When Mary Wild was in school, girls’ sports didn’t exist.
Fortunately, sports enthusiast Wild had a couple of things going for her in her hometown of Willmar, Minn. Her family lived next door to a community sports complex, so she could easily take advantage of the facilities and fields there. Perhaps more importantly, there were enough members in her family they could form a team on their own.
Wild ended up making sports a part of her career. The Ellsworth Middle School physical education teacher and former coach will retire at the end of this school term after 33 years (actually 34 here, but she took a year off from teaching to get her Master’s degree).
“It wasn’t until I got to college that I decided (on a career),” she said Thursday. “I went out for basketball and track and field, and followed it into the teaching path.”
Aside from some substituting back home and student teaching in a Twin Cities suburb, Ellsworth has been the site for her entire career, she said. The local school district had an opening for a phy ed teacher and got her name from St. Cloud (Minn.) State University, where she had attended college.
“I was in the work-study program and they recommended me,” she said.
At the former local junior high, Dick Fuller was principal and Elwyn Roberts was the district superintendent at the time, Wild said. As for classes, Fuller told her “teach whatever you want.”
The old EJHS had been offering volleyball, gymnastics and soccer, plus another which she remembered as being softball, she said. She soon added ice skating, aerobics, fitness, broomball and archery.
Her philosophy was to give students a variety of opportunities so when they found something they liked, they could continue it on their own, she said. Meantime, if they didn’t like a particular sport, none were going to be presented for long; there was a new unit or activity every two-to-three weeks. Over her years, the list was expanded to include flag football and lacrosse.
When she began, physical education was still divided between boys and girls, she said. Her classes walked nearly every period from the then-junior high to Hillcrest Elementary School to use the athletic fields there, as EJHS had none. Her students have always ranged in age from 10 to 14, a level when she agreed they’re in transition, but one she prefers.
“They’re still excited,” she said.
For more please read the May 7 print version of the Herald.