Photo by SCOTT ROBERTSON special to Alachua County Today
Santa Fe High School’s Dean of Students, Loretta Shane, receives congratulations from her sister, Ginny Shane, as she retires after 37 years of coaching girl’s athletics programs at the school.
ALACHUA – When Santa Fe High School’s Dean of Students, Loretta Shane, 62, was guiding students up to the stage during her school’s graduation ceremony last Saturday evening, she saw six seniors from a golf team she coaches and got hit with a flurry of emotions.
After 37 years of coaching girl’s athletics programs at Santa Fe High School, last weekend’s graduation ceremony marked Loretta Shane’s last day before retiring.
“I'm going to miss the quirky things that happen all the time here,” she said.
Shane started out as a teacher and coach, and has been dean for 17 years. She started off coaching volleyball and softball, but she eventually oversaw the expansion of girl’s athletics at the school that would encompass much more.
When Shane started at Santa Fe, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which gave girls equal opportunity to participate in sports, was still fairly recent. Even with Title IX, Shane said it was still a struggle for her teams to get respect.
“I had to fight the battles to get equal access to the facilities for the girls,” she said. “I was coaching the varsity girl’s softball team, and somebody came out and sent the message that the girls needed to get off the field so the junior varsity boys could practice.”
“It’s night and day compared to now,” Shane said. “Girls playing sports has become so common.” Funding and opportunity for girls in sports is on equal footing now, she said.
This might be the end of her time at Santa Fe, but Shane said it wasn’t necessarily the last time she would be a mentor.
“I hope I'm remembered for what I’m going to do, and not what I did,” she said. She plans on taking about six months to figure out what she wants to do with her post-retirement life, but she mentioned the idea of volunteering her time to mentor kids in both sports and academics and participate in fundraisers for after-school programs.
Over the last 37 years, the school has changed drastically, Shane noted. She has seen the school grow in the number of students and expand its academic and athletic programs.
On graduation day last Saturday at 6 p.m., she guided students to the stage of the Stephen O’Connell Center at the University of Florida. Santa Fe High School used to hold graduation ceremonies on its own football field, but there are so many students the school now holds it there.
“We’re now small enough that kids don’t get lost in the shuffle, but big enough to offer diverse programs.”
Since she started working for the school, Shane has been present at all but one of the graduation ceremonies.
In her career, she said she has probably coached about 70 teams.
“My favorite memory, it happened recently” Shane said. “I was standing on the sidelines watching my ex-players coach their kids in volleyball.”
“Everything has kind of come full circle.”
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