More than 80 years after her collegiate field hockey career ended, 40 years since her retirement as a Longwood faculty member and nearly 20 since her passing in 1998, Dr. Elizabeth Burger Jackson’s name still echoes prominently in the halls of Longwood University.
On October 29, those echoes extended to the Longwood Athletics Complex where the Lancers’ signature blue turf was named Elizabeth Burger Jackson Field in honor of Dr. Jackson – or Libby, as she was known to her family and friends – who blazed a trail for Longwood’s female student-athletes during her standout field hockey career from 1930-32.
In a formal dedication ceremony that took place before Longwood field hockey’s regular season finale against Missouri State on Oct. 29, the university officially named its home field hockey turf in honor of one of its most prominent student-athletes and a woman who dedicated her life in service of Longwood University and women’s athletics.
“Elizabeth Burger Jackson truly was a Longwood legend, and the naming of this field is a fitting tribute both to her and an extended family that has been so generous to Longwood over many generations,” said Longwood president W. Taylor Reveley IV. “For generations to come, it will be a place where Longwood student-athletes learn, prepare, compete and make memories together and for our whole community. It will be a proud home for our program.”
That naming ceremony was the culmination of a lifetime of loyal support by Dr. Jackson, whose legacy has been carried on by the Burger and Jackson families with donations to Longwood exceeding $500,000. Their gifts established scholarships for field hockey players, nursing students, and merit scholarships while also providing support and funding for the field hockey program.
However, Dr. Jackson’s Longwood legacy extends beyond those substantial monetary contributions and the projects and opportunities they funded. After her standout field hockey career as a Lancer, she graduated from William & Mary in 1934 and embarked on a nearly four-decades-long teaching career at Longwood as a professor of natural sciences from 1938-76.
What [Elizabeth Burger Jackson] was able to accomplish during her lifetime as an athlete, a teacher, an ambassador for Longwood University and a proponent of field hockey – and women’s athletics in general – is truly remarkable.Troy Austin, Longwood Athletics Director
Shortly after her retirement, Dr. Jackson received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1979 and was posthumously enshrined in the inaugural Longwood Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2005. She remains one of only two field hockey players among the school’s 28 hall of fame inductees and was also elected to the William & Mary Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Virginia Sports Wall of Fame in 1983.
“Elizabeth Burger Jackson built the foundation for Longwood athletics,” said Longwood athletics director Troy Austin. “What she was able to accomplish during her lifetime as an athlete, a teacher, an ambassador for Longwood University and a proponent of field hockey – and women’s athletics in general – is truly remarkable. We still feel that impact today, and the outstanding season our field hockey team recently completed is proof of her legacy.
“My thanks to Linda and Bob Burger, whose gift will share the powerful Elizabeth Burger Jackson legacy with Longwood’s student-athletes.”
Linda Carter Burger ’72 and Bob’s passion for their Aunt Libby led the and were the lead donors on the Burger Jackson Field naming project, and both were on hand at dedication alongside a large gathering of Dr. Jackson’s family and friends.
As part of the ceremony, Dr. Jackson’s granddaughters unveiled a special plaque that will reside on the concourse of Burger Jackson Field at the Longwood Athletics Complex. Several peers and colleagues of Dr. Jackson delivered speeches, including Dr. Nancy Andrews, Dr. Barbara Smith and Dr. Carolyn Wells. Bob Burger’s daughter, Libby – named after Dr. Jackson – took part in a ceremonial pushback with field hockey senior captain Ellen Ross. Byers, alongside four members of his groundbreaking senior class, also presented a framed Longwood field hockey jersey to the Burger family.
But while the field dedication ended minutes before the Lancer field hockey squad played their first game on their newly branded field, the celebration extended well after the final buzzer.
It’s fitting that the first game played on Burger Jackson Field was one of the biggest wins in Longwood field hockey history. The Lancers rode the momentum from that pregame ceremony to a 3-0 win over Missouri State that secured the program’s first trip to the MAC Championship Tournament and punctuating one of the best seasons in Longwood’s 10-year Division I era.
That win, which left Longwood with a 5-2 home record in 2016, was a fitting tribute to Jackson, who went on to play for the United States Field Hockey National Team from 1947-50 and 1954-55 and serve as the vice president of the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA) and president of the Virginia field Hockey Association (VFHA).
“Elizabeth Burger Jackson is an important alumna of the program and our university,” said ninth-year field hockey coach Iain Byers, whose 2016 Lancers finished 9-9 and were just one sudden-death double-overtime goal away from upsetting No. 2 seed Miami in the MAC semifinals.
“She is obviously one of the best field hockey players to ever come through Longwood, but her impact has continued for decades beyond her playing days. Many Longwood students had the pleasure of being taught by her, and our former student-athletes among that group still speak about her with deep admiration. We are so thankful to the Burger and Jackson families for their commitment to our program and Longwood University, and we are honored to play on our home field that now bears her name.”