Softball field renamed to commemorate Rochelle Munger
Aidan Janssen, Reporter & Designer
Elementary school physical education school can be a difficult class to lead, as teachers must instruct students about their bodies while simultaneously finding fun ways to keep the same kids active. On Vashon, grade after grade of students fondly remembers their own PE teacher, Rochelle Munger, for the energy and compassion she to brought to class.
Munger’s passing in 2018, after a long battle with cancer, was felt strongly across the district, by staff and students alike.
To preserve her memory, athletic director Andy Sears and numerous community members renamed and refurbished the high school softball field in her honor.
Munger was well liked by her students. She would often play her banjo in front of Chautauqua to greet the students as they arrived at school, and also performed at school assemblies.
Growing up on Vashon, Munger made a name for herself as an excellent softball player, graduating in 1982 after earning numerous awards and competing in multiple leagues.
Nine years ago, she was diagnosed with a subtype of soft tissue sarcoma. Having taught on Vashon for almost 20 years, she passed away on Friday, July 27, 2018.
“I think we were all affected by her passing,” coach Andy Sears said.“It’s very difficult to imagine Munger as anything but full of life. From a professional standpoint, we lost a colleague who was always so positive, and always wanted the best for Vashon schools. … Not having her presence around has been very tough. There’s definitely a void.”
The process of dedicating the field to Munger began shortly after her death.
“It was a collective effort — many people were involved in the process,” Andy Sears said. “Many, many people cared deeply for her and wanted to honor her.”
Along with repairs to the field, the stadium now features a large placard dedicated to Munger, showing a photograph of her playing softball. Munger’s commitment to athletics and physical education struck a chord with students.
“[Her dedication] definitely affected students,” high school health teacher Kara Sears said. “I think that people have so many good memories with her that it’s impossible to know or even put a scope on how people were impacted.”
Munger’s positive attitude played a large part in her success as a teacher and coach. Even after being diagnosed with cancer, she remained optimistic. Students looked forward to her unique P.E. classes and were inspired by her creative teaching style. Munger was also involved throughout the whole district, teaching at McMurray as well as Chautauqua until her illness forced her to stop.
This dedication and naturally dynamic personality made Munger a clear choice to be the field’s namesake, in the hope that it would commemorate her for years to come.
“I think [the renaming of the field is] a great tribute to her,” Kara Sears said. “Truly, there are few people who have ever been such a supporter of all things Vashon School District.”