For generations of Bridgewater State physical education students, Dr. Mary Jo Moriarty was a source of inspiration and mentorship. They became leaders in the field by utilizing the lessons she taught.
Current Bears may only know Moriarty as the name of the campus pool, but the program she founded and shaped continues to serve them well today.
Dr. Mary Jo Moriarty
Moriarty brought a physical education program to BSU from Hyannis State Teachers College after the Cape Cod college closed in 1944. She taught at Bridgewater for the remainder of her career, retiring in 1970 as chairperson of the Department of Physical Education.
“She was a strong role model for many of us during our years at Bridgewater, during our professional careers, and in our personal lives,” former students wrote in a Bridgewater magazine tribute to her.
Many thought of themselves as “Mary's girls,” a testament to her skill as an educator and commitment to her students.
“She had a way of teaching that took the difficulty out of learning,” recalled Marcia Crooks, ’55.
During Moriarty’s tenure at Bridgewater, she launched an academic program respected locally, nationally and globally. She also helped design Kelly Gymnasium, which houses the pool that was named in her honor during the 1990-1991 academic year.
“Dr. Moriarty, you gave us the world's best start and you left your anchor deep in our hearts,” Crooks said at the ceremony naming the pool after Moriarty.
The Physical Education Alumni Association presents an award named for Moriarty to a member of each graduating class from the Department of Health and Kinesiology, which houses the physical education program today.
Moriarty Pool, housed in Kelly Gymnasium on the west side of campus, is the home of the men's and women's swimming and diving teams. The pool has six, 25-yard-long lanes and 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards. It can accommodate 300 spectators and 150 swimmers.
The pool also hosts open swim hours and swimming lessons. The Children’s Physical Developmental Clinic, through which BSU students work with children with disabilities, uses the pool as part of its weekly sessions.
Material in this article comes from the Spring 1991 and Spring 1992 editions of Bridgewater magazine as well as the 1997 book A Noble Legacy: Physical Education Major 1937-1987, Bridgewater State College by Dr. Catherine Comeau.