Physical Therapy Couple Boosts Ithaca Fund

PT pair Michael Theeman ’02, M.S. ’03, and Elizabeth Jackstadt Theeman ’02, M.S. ’03, help the annual fund meet its goal.    by George Sapio

Sometimes a little procrastination can bring an unexpected bonus. Michael Theeman ’02, M.S. ’03, and Elizabeth Jackstadt Theeman ’02, M.S. ’03, hesitated briefly before sending in their donation to the campaign, but it was their check that brought the Ithaca Fund to its $8 million goal.

“We normally donate to crew,” Michael says, “but this seemed a good opportunity to give a little extra back to Ithaca College.” Elizabeth adds, “We have to laugh — it wasn’t a very sizable donation. We received the pledge notice in the mail and put it off for a couple of days. But I guess because of the timing . . . ”

The Theemans are the last people one would expect to procrastinate. They racked up an impressive record of activities and awards as student-athletes at Ithaca. Both were clinical science/physical therapy majors and members of the intercollegiate crew teams who rowed up to commodore status. Michael was on the swimming and diving team in 2000 and ’01. Elizabeth was twice named all-American by the College Rowing Coaches Association, and twice won the National Scholar-Athlete Award. She received the College’s Physical Therapy Scholarship, was a member of the Oracle honor society, and won IC’s highest student-athlete award for women, the Iris Carnell Senior Athlete of the Year. Michael’s scholarships included the Emerson Scholarship for two years and a Duncan Hines Nutrition Scholarship.

They met as freshmen when both jogged down — before classes even started — to find the IC boathouse. “We became good friends,” Elizabeth says. Besides crew and their PT studies, both were on the Residence Life Hall Council. “We had a bottle and can drive and threw a Twister party to raise money,” Elizabeth recalls. “We didn’t start dating until much later,” adds Michael. They continued on identical paths after their undergraduate studies, earning master of science degrees in PT in Ithaca’s Rochester program.

They then moved to Plattsburgh, New York, where Elizabeth grew up; they married in 2005. They both work as physical therapists, Michael at Elizabethtown Hospital and Elizabeth at Sports Orthopedic and Spine Therapy. They find their work immensely rewarding.

Fun for the couple still involves strenuous sports, including hiking (they recently climbed 5,344-foot Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks), cycling (Michael is training for triathlons and the Iron Man competition), ballroom dancing, and skiing. Even though they aren’t pulling oars much anymore, remnants of their IC crew training linger. After Elizabeth wiped out on a downhill ski run, Michael asked her, in typical crew fashion, “What were you thinking about when you took that turn?”

They’re glad their donation to the campaign, although small, brought the Ithaca Fund to its goal. The contribution is a gesture of their appreciation for all the College means to them. Both enthusiastically credit it for much of their good fortune. “We met each other there,” Michael says, “got married, found our professions, and made our life together.” What can beat that?