In the Locker Room with Vera Peterson and Joe Bennett


Briana Santiago

Philips employees Vera Peterson (left) and Joe Bennett

Randy Ollie, Sports Editor

This week, the Review sat down with Philips gym employees Vera Pe­terson and Joe Bennett to discuss their favorite parts of the facility, their fa­vorite sport and how Oberlin and its student body have changed over the years.

How long have you worked at Philips?

Vera Peterson: 35 years. I started in 1980, before you were even born!

Joe Bennett: Three years, but I used to work at Stevenson [Dining Hall] for CDS.

How has the Philips fitness center changed since you started work­ing there?

VP: There are definitely more administrators compared to when I first started working. Varsity coach­es are a good example. When I first started working, coaches used to coach multiple teams and some had other jobs around Philips. Nowa­days, everyone pretty much does one thing.

JB: I definitely see that the stu­dents are becoming more active and involved in sports. Obviously, the new stadium and locker room that was built last year was a big change as well.

How have Oberlin students changed in terms of their use of Philips?

VP: Definitely more non-athletes use the facilities compared to when I first started, which is nice because it means there is always a lot of differ­ent people around.

What is your favorite part about working in the Philips Fitness center?

VP: I like interacting with the students. They are from all over, you know? They all have their own ma­jors and interests, and it is always in­teresting to meet new students. One student still keeps in touch with me; he actually sent me a slide of mon­key brains from his job in Washing­ton, D.C.!

JB: I would have to say interact­ing with the students and interact­ing with the coaches. All the coaches are really nice. Over here, I’m inter­twined in all the athletic events. I always know when games are and how teams are doing, which is a luxury that I didn’t have when I was working in CDS.

What is your favorite sporting event?

VP: Probably football. I try to go to football and basketball games when I can, and I will stop by other teams’ events from time to time. Any sporting event in the gym is always exciting, because when I’m at work it always adds some fun to the day.

JB: Football for sure. On one of my off days a couple weeks ago, I took my son to the game against [the State University of New York at] Brockport. He loved it, and I had a great time.

What would you say to anyone in the neighboring communities who might be interested in join­ing Philips?

JB: Everyone is very friendly and helpful. Virginia [Covalt] and a bunch of other employees have been here for a long time. When you come in and you need anything, you can always count on someone being available to lend you a hand.

What makes the Oberlin Athletics Department so great?

VP: It’s a casual setting, so you get a chance to interact with the stu­dents, see them every day and talk to them.

JB: Everyone is just so person­able, the coaches especially. The other day, I asked Coach New how the men’s soccer team was doing, and he gave me a breakdown of their last game. That’s definitely an example of something I feel like a lot of people overlook.

What is your favorite place in the fitness center?

VP: I like to work out on the treadmills upstairs to get some car­dio, but the sauna would have to be my go-to spot to relax after a long day.

JB: The gyms are definitely very nice. I haven’t gotten a chance to play in any of them yet, but I can tell that they are definitely quality spaces.

How has the Oberlin student body changed since you started working here?

VP: When I first started, the stu­dents were very liberal, and then they went through a conservative phase. Now it seems like students are even more liberal than when I first started working here. [Laughs.]

JB: I’ve definitely observed that Oberlin students are becoming much more dedicated to com­ing to Philips. When I get here in the morning, I see students on the treadmill or the stairmaster. I’m really impressed with the students’ commitment to stay in shape.