Florida State alumnae, Katherine Blood Hoffman, class of 1936, and Alice Bennett Sims, class of 1984, will be honored as “Champions Beyond the Game” on October 2nd at the Committee of Thirty’s annual brunch at the University Center. Hoffman was the captain of Florida State‘s volleyball and baseball “Evens” teams in the early 1930’s. Alice Bennett was a seven-time All-American in track and field at Florida State in the early 1980’s.
The brunch is held each year to “honor the past, celebrate the present and promote the future” of women’s athletics at Florida State. The purpose of the event is to honor two Florida State graduates for the lifetime successes that they have achieved following their experiences as Florida State athletes. Each year, one former graduate is selected from the pre-scholarship era and one from the post-scholarship period of Florida State‘s athletics history.
A new feature at the brunch this year will be the presentation of a new honor entitled the Femina Perfecta Awards. Femina Perfecta translated means the “complete woman” and it was the motto that appeared on the school seal when the institution was the Florida State College for Women. The “complete woman” was expected to possess the traits of Vires (strength), Artes (knowledge) and Mores (tradition) symbolized by the three torches of that seal. In short, FSCW women were expected to have sound minds in sound bodies. Athletics was viewed as essential in developing both and every student was expected to participate in at least one sport every year. The Femina Perfecta Awards have been established by the Committee of Thirty to honor an athlete in each sport, chosen by her teammates, who best personifies these characteristics. The goal is to continue the traditions begun many years ago at the school.
When “Kitty” Blood played volleyball and baseball at Florida State College for Women in the 30’s, female students were not permitted to participate in intercollegiate athletics but that didn’t mean that the school did not take athletics seriously. Athletics was at the very center of the college’s program. For athletic competition in a number of sports, the school was divided into two groups. The students in the two classes scheduled to graduate in even numbered years were “Evens” while the other two classes scheduled to graduate in odd years were the “Odds.” Fierce competition took place each year between the Odds and Evens in basketball, volleyball, field hockey, swimming, tennis and baseball. Kitty led the Evens to victory on numerous occasions. Her success on the field led to membership in FSCW’s revered “F Club.”
In addition to her success on the athletic fields, Kitty attained a number of the highest student and scholastic honors. They included being elected as the student body president and being selected for membership in Mortar Board (leadership-scholarship honorary), Estern (the leadership honorary for Evens students) as well as Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s highest academic honor for students in Arts and Sciences programs.
Kitty’s undergraduate accomplishments served as signs of what was to come. She graduated from Florida State College for Women in May of 1936 with a Bachelor of Science degree in bacteriology. Soon thereafter, she entered Columbia University‘s College of Physicians and Surgeons studying Bacteriology. In the spring of 1938, she was awarded a Master of Arts degree in chemistry from Columbia. Shortly thereafter she married her childhood sweetheart, Harold H. Hoffman of Winter Haven.
In 1940, the Hoffman’s moved to Tallahassee where Kitty returned to the Florida State College for Women, this time as a member of the faculty. Since then, she has taught chemistry to hundreds of Florida State students. She was categorized as an “instructor” until 1959, when she was promoted to “full professor.” She served FSU as Dean of Women from 1967 to 1970. After her stint as an administrator, Hoffman returned to teaching students. In 1964, she was awarded FSU’s Coyle E. Moore, Jr., Award for excellence in teaching, and in 1978, FSU’s Ross Oglesby Award for service and leadership. The Hoffman Teaching Laboratory on the campus was named for her in 1984. She retired from full time teaching at FSU in 1984.
In 1994 when the FSU Alumni Association first created the “FSU Circle of Gold Award” to recognize those who have, through their service and achievements, personified FSU’s “tradition of excellence,” Hoffman was among the charter class of eight honorees. In 1995, the Hoffman’s endowed a major scholarship in chemistry at the university. In 1996, the alumni association honored Kitty as that year’s winner of the Bernard F. Sliger Award, the association’s highest honor for service to the university.
Mr. Hoffman died in late 1996. Although no longer a fulltime teacher, Kitty Hoffman continues to be active on the FSU campus and very supportive of all things FSU. Her son, Norris Hoffman, like his mother, is a college chemistry professor. He teaches at the University of South Alabama.
By the time Alice Bennett entered Florida State in the fall of 1979, the Femina Perfecta motto no longer appeared on the school seal as it had in the days when it was a women-only institution. That did not mean, however, that Florida State was no longer in the business of developing “complete women” and Alice would provide evidence of that.
Alice entered FSU, thanks to a couple of partial academic scholarships. An athlete, she walked on to the track team and by her second year, had been awarded a track and field scholarship. During her tenure at FSU, she attained All-American status seven times as a track and field athlete in her specialties as a sprinter and a long jumper. She was a valuable member of two Florida State NCAA national championship relay teams in 1981, the indoor 800-meter relay, and the outdoor 400-meter relay. She excelled in the classroom also, and in 1984 earned her Bachelor of Science degree in physical education.
Since graduation from FSU, Alice has spent her career serving the youth of Florida. She worked briefly as an after-school program director for the East Hill Baptist Church in Tallahassee and then became the assistant center supervisor for the Walker-Ford Community Center, also in Tallahassee, where she worked for four years. From 1989 to 1993, she served as a delinquency case management counselor for the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. From 1993 to 1995, she managed a mentor program from the Leon County School Board. She then directed several mentor programs for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice from 1995-97. From 1997-2001, she coordinated some statewide programs for the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. She then worked briefly for The Community Trust Corporation as a contract manager in 2001 before becoming a committee administrative assistant to The Florida House of Representatives from 2002-04. Since 2004, she has served as an analyst to the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget in the Public Safety Unit.
During her life’s work, she has developed and implemented prevention, early intervention, mentoring, and tutoring programs for at risk and delinquent children. She has designed and developed the Firefighters Intervening to Reclaim and Educate Academy that matched professional firefighters with at risk youths in a role model capacity. She also established the Agency Intervention Mentoring Program with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, which matched state workers with children at risk. She played a major role in the development in the Saving Teens from Entering Prison Program for incarcerated juveniles at the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center. She coached high school track and field at North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee for more than 10 years.
Currently, Sims serves at the Assistant Director of the Winning America’s Youth Ministries, which is a non-profit youth outreach organization which works with children ages 5-19. As a part of this program, boys and girls can participate in a track and field club entitled, “Capital City Christian Cruisers.” Many of the kids from the program have gone on to compete in colleges and universities throughout the country.
Alice has received numerous community honors including a 1995 Women of Distinction Award, a 1995 Leon County Juvenile Justice Community Achievement Award, a 1997 USA Track and Field Youth Development Achievement Award, a 1998 Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Excellence in Volunteer and Internship Program Award, a 1999 Gulf Winds Track Club Michael Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award, a 2000 Tallahassee Community College Outstanding Women of Today Award, a 2002 Kids Incorporated “Champion for Children” Award, a 2004 Florida Commission on the status of Women Outstanding Achievement Award and a 2004 WCTV Television “She’s Got Game” designation.
Sims is married and has two children. The entire family is very athletic. Husband Ernie Sims, Jr., was himself a star football player at Florida State where the couple met and married over 22 years ago. One of her children, Ernie Sims, III, is a standout linebacker on the FSU football team. Her other son, Marcus, is a senior at North Florida High School in Tallahassee, where he is successful in several sports.