Alumna applies degree onto national trail
Georgia College alumna Jane Edmonds confronts the most challenging physical fitness course of her career — the Appalachian Trail.
The roughly 2,180-mile-long trail is one of the longest marked footpaths in the world, and the 77-year-old educator hiked part of it this year.
“I hiked between Tennessee and North Carolina with my son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren,” said Edmonds, ’55. “It was the rockiest, steepest trail experience I have ever had.”
Edmonds put all her years of teaching physical education to the ultimate test.
For nine months, Edmonds trained five to six days a week to build her stamina and strength. As part of her training, she wore hiking boots and carried a 25- to 32-pound backpack.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve done physically,” said Edmonds, “but I did it.”
Edmonds’ passion for extracurricular activities cultivated during her undergraduate studies at then Georgia State College for Women (GSCW).
“My parents sent me to college to major in home economics,” said Edmonds, “but physical education looked much more interesting and exciting. I was not the greatest of athletes, but I always tried hard and loved participating in sports such as swimming, tennis, basketball and volleyball. I participated in every activity I could just for the fun of it.”
Edmonds continued a family tradition by attending GSCW, following in the footsteps of several Adams and Holliman girls who included her mother, great aunts, aunts and cousins.
A shy girl of age 16, GSCW helped Edmonds mature socially, she said.
“So many girls from different backgrounds attended the school,” said Edmonds. “My best friend since age 10, Patsy Orr Cox, entered the school with me and that helped. Her mother also attended GSCW with my mother. I learned so much from Patsy, my peers and professors.”
Each September, Edmonds, Cox and seven other classmates from the Class of 1955 meet up for a week on the Gulf of Mexico at St. Teresa, Fla., to reminisce about their days at GSCW.
“We walk on the beach, take boat rides, eat a lot of seafood and tell a few tall tales,” Edmonds said. “We laugh almost all the time.”
After earning her bachelor’s in physical education at GSCW then teaching for a few years, Edmonds decided to advance her degree.
She earned a master’s degree in physical education and health in the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.
“It’s ironic,” said Edmonds. “Georgia College’s new president, Dr. Steve Dorman, actually presented me my award when I was inducted into the College of Health and Human Performance 2012 Hall of Fame. He previously served as dean and professor of the College of Health and Human Performance. Dr. Dorman is most certainly Georgia College’s gain. He is very smart. He has a terrific way with students and great relationships with people.”
Edmonds used her degrees to teach all age levels, from K-12 to higher education, while also traveling with her U.S. Army husband to various assignments home and abroad.
“My degrees have allowed me to teach and excite students about developing their sports skills and creating healthy lifestyles,” said Edmonds. “I always geared my entire physical education programs toward developing strength where students are weakest. I did a lot of testing and record keeping from year to year.”
Edmonds and her husband, retired Maj. Gen. Maurice Edmonds, have two sons, who are both active duty with the military.
“We now have five beautiful, smart and energetic grandchildren,” said Edmonds. “They are all doers and go-getters who keep us busy.”
Already, Edmonds is preparing to hike more of the Appalachian Trail with her family. This time she plans to tackle a portion of the trail in each state from Georgia to Maine.
“We plan to start next June, so I’m back into training,” said Edmonds. “I’m an ordinary person who has always worked hard to achieve my goals. I credit GSCW for standing me on my feet then the University of Florida for teaching me how to fly. I couldn’t have accomplished all I’ve done throughout the years as a mother, military wife and educator without a solid start from GSCW, now Georgia College.”