Many students will immediately recognize Judy Tegtmeyer as the friendly face who always smiles at them during their visits to Skoglund Athletic Center. However, they may not know much about this Director of Recreation and RESA Facility Coordinator or what she does.
Tegtmeyer, who grew up as the daughter of a college athletics coach, leaned toward a coaching and teaching career when she entered Denison University in Ohio, but became interested in environmental studies and received her bachelor’s degree in geology. After graduation, she worked for the Bureau of Land Management before being hired by an environmental consulting company. After realizing the field was not a good fit, Tegtmeyer went back to school to earn her M.S. in Kinesiology at Indiana University. She coached for three years in Missouri, then came to St. Olaf.
“I’m living the liberal arts,” she said. “You just never know where your path is going to take you. You get out and try different things, and sometimes you end up in places you weren’t expecting to see. Or you find yourself back to where you originally thought you wanted to be in the first place.”
Tegtmeyer has worked at St. Olaf for 22 years. At the beginning of her career here, she coached women’s soccer for seven years. Desiring a change of pace and to work with the wider student body, the former collegiate athlete entered her current post and has never looked back.
“My favorite part of my job is working with students…To watch this age group grow from their first year with deer-in-the-headlights [expressions] to watching them graduate, and just watch the changes in maturity,” Tegtmeyer said. “Some of them are just tremendous changes. Maybe they’ve found a passion, or their calling, and it’s just really fun to watch that emerge in people.”
Tegtmeyer enjoys the special community of students, but also the relationship between students, faculty and staff. Her position within the community allows her to work with both sides, from teaching student exercise classes (including the ever-popular rock climbing course) to working with administrators to develop recreation opportunities. It’s why she has stayed.
“It’s the physical-mental combination of things that you see in this building,” she said. “You see them at their absolute best, and at their worst. Everyone struggles at different times and with different things, and it’s just about what you learn here about how to overcome challenges.”
The recreation department exists not just for the 66 percent of St. Olaf students involved in intramural and club sports, but also to improve the quality of life and wellness for every student on campus. With the college’s new framework plan, changes – such as an indoor ice rink – could soon be coming to the RESA facilities. Tegtmeyer also sits on the college’s wellness committee, made up of members from Health Services, Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN), Residence Life, Student Congregation, the Wellness Center and other groups, which aims to increase awareness of holistic wellness and support student health.
“The more programming we can offer, the more opportunities students have to engage in healthy behaviors, and hopefully that would help them be healthier and better students,” Tegtmeyer said.
The professor herself models an active, balanced lifestyle. Outside of St. Olaf, Tegtmeyer enjoys cycling, rock climbing, camping, backpacking, canoeing, Nordic skiing, gardening, theater and art. She has led two Interim off-campus study programs, once on the Theater in London trip and another to Arizona to lead a course that explored the relationship between biomes, biology and health.
Tegtmeyer’s story truly embodies St. Olaf’s key values of community, vocation, involvement, care and holistic wellness, and her joyous attitude exemplifies the power of finding a sense of belonging. Next time she smiles at you on your way to the gym, be sure to say hi and thank the woman who devotes her days to creating quality spaces for your active endeavors.