Theresa Walton-Fisette ’93 grew up in Union City, CA, then later, Minden, NV, where she graduated from Douglas HS. Her path didn’t lead directly to Southern Oregon State College but in the end, her experiences here meant everything to her.
After graduating high school, Theresa found her way to La Grande and Eastern Oregon State College because they offered tuition at in-state levels and she was going to compete for the cross-country team there. But having gotten to know Ashland over the years with her high school drama club attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she transferred the winter of 1991 to Southern Oregon State College. “I had spoken with Head Track and Field Coach Monty Cartwright about transferring to SOSC but we didn’t communicate about it after that. Fortunately for me, I ran into him at the gym one day and he welcomed me to come out for the team right away,” she said.
With the athletic portion of her SOSC experience cemented, Theresa went to work academically and thrived in the small class room environment. She majored in sociology and relished the experiences provided by caring professors like Jean Maxwell, Vicki Sturtevant, Shamsul Alam and her major advisor, Cecile Baril. “My senior year, two other senior students and I proposed that we teach an inequality course to undergrads, which the department accepted,” she said. “It was so much fun and it really influenced my decision to go to graduate school.”
Athletically, Theresa’s prowess was unequaled. She won the NAIA National Championship in the marathon as a senior in 1994 and was runner-up in the event as a junior in 1993. Her most impressive feat may have come during her senior season at the NAIA District Championships. Even though she was training for the NAIA National Championships in the marathon, she went out and over two days won the District Championship in the 10,000 meters, the 5,000 and the 1,500 and also finished second in the 3,000. She was also a three-time Academic All-American. Her athletic performances over the years earned her an induction into the SOU Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Her former coach, Monty Cartwright, was inducted the same day. “Monty was a special person and mentor whom we all loved. It was so nice to be inducted with him and to spend time with him that weekend,” she said.
After graduation the spring of 1993 with her bachelor’s of arts in sociology, Theresa came back as a post graduate and ran one more year of track before moving on to graduate school at Oregon State. She transferred to the University of Iowa and stayed there from 1997-2002, earning her master’s and doctorate degrees in cultural studies. She stayed on as an academic advisor at Iowa for an additional year then was hired to teach at Kent State University in Ohio. She is now a full professor there, where she teaches in the Sport Administration Program. Her work has been published in the Sociology of Sport Journal, the Journal of Sport History, the Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, the Journal of Popular Culture and Sport and Education & Society.
“I appreciate the way that Southern Oregon was instrumental in my intellectual and personal growth. I was really able to find my niche in life there with some amazing mentors, which gave me a great foundation, leading me to where I am now,” said Theresa.
Learn more: Sport Administration at Kent State