Bamberger Lyke, Marilyn


Marilyn (Bamberger) Lyke’s physical education classes in high school were divided by gender. The boys also had multiple varsity teams, and their games were sold out. The girls had no official sports. Marilyn and her female classmates were eventually allowed to try out for basketball during her last two years, divided into six-person teams and playing half-court. They could only dribble twice before passing or shooting.


She arrived to Otterbein eager for new/enhanced opportunities and ready to try just about anything. Behind the vision of Dr. JoAnn Tyler, field hockey became the first interscholastic sport offered for women. Marilyn (excited to run the full length of the field) jumped right in, playing all four years on the wing and ranking among the team leaders in scoring. Otterbein played a 10-game schedule… and won most of them against the likes of Ohio State, Denison, Wittenberg, Ohio Wesleyan, Kenyon and Ohio U.


But Marilyn’s participation and desire to compete didn’t stop there. She also played basketball as it was being added interscholastically, anything else featured through intramurals (tennis, badminton, etc.) and spent all four years on the cheerleading squad. Throughout campus, her impact was felt with student council, acapella choir, as a class officer, and when she was elected May Queen.


After commencement in 1963, Marilyn went on to earn her master’s degree in physical education from Bowling Green… where she was the only woman in her sports administration class. She was then hired as the swimming coach and Health/PE instructor for BGSU before venturing to serve in similar roles at Iowa Wesleyan, where her husband (Jerry) was head football coach.


Marilyn’s path led back to Canton where she became a stay-at-home mother for a decade after starting their family, while also taking part-time roles coaching/teaching at Malone and Kent State. She eventually got back into the workforce as a curriculum coordinator for Plain Local Schools, overseeing fine arts and Health/PE. This 24-year chapter saw her write academic modules, plan teacher workshops, supervise staff, establish a county-wide Olympics event, manage the intramural program for grades 4-12, and direct a city-wide health and fitness competition (Community Corporate Cup) for the entire school system.


Retirement came in 2004 but plenty of activity was on the schedule – water and snow skiing, jogging road races, becoming a star ping pong player, helping plan her 50th class reunion at Otterbein and much more. Her accomplishments have also been furthered into the family tree (two children, five grandchildren) that she and Jerry created, marking a path to continue leaving her imprint on that of female athletics and the evolution of Title IX.


Marilyn’s daughter, Heather, won a Big Ten Championship playing softball at Michigan before embarking on a notable run as a college athletics administrator with stops at the NCAA, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Big Ten Network, Eastern Michigan and Pitt. Her granddaughter, Sophie, is an outside hitter on the Clemson volleyball team.


Pioneering her way forward, leaving it better than she found it, and creating pathways for the next generations. That is the outstanding legacy of Marilyn (Bamberger) Lyke.