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gymnastics

Druhna Chris: Memories

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Druhna Lottie Fik was an amazing person. She was a great leader in the Polish Falcons of America. I am glad I was able to participate in the events that she planned and organized. As a youth in her gym class, I remember many events where Druhna had us out on a field in the beating sun getting ready for a mass exhibition for a Zlot. I remember holding my arms out at shoulder length for a long time – so that we would remember that when you did the National Drill, you had your arms at shoulder height and straight. We marched until we were about to drop over, but when we marched out on that field for the exhibition, we were a sight to see! Druhna was tough, but the events she planned were an important part of my youth, and I thank her for every single minute she put into making them a success.

I remember when Druhna would come to Pittsburgh for a District IV gym class to get everyone ready for the National Zlot. I was not a particularly good gymnast. I was not the first one picked to do special things on the mats or to be the center of the pyramid. In fact, I usually held someone else up doing something complicated and cool. But nevertheless, I would attend the practices when Druhna Fik would come. I never thought that she knew who I was or that I was a part of the gym class in Pittsburgh. It was just exciting being a part of the group.

Then a few years back, I was attending a National Bowling Tournament and I ran into Druhna Fik while I was there. I will never forget this moment because she made me feel so special. We both said hello and were riding the bus to the club, so we sat together. The thing that stuck with me the most was that she knew who I was and where I was from. She said, “So here is my Pittsburgh protégé taking over the National Instructress position. I am so proud of you.” I was so surprised to know that she knew who I was and that I was from Pittsburgh that I just beamed with pride and of course a few tears in my eyes. We rode the bus to the club, and she told me she was proud of me taking over and that she enjoyed seeing all the photos from the events I had already run.

It was not until I started working as the National Instructress that I realized how impressive Druhna Fik was. I know how hard and time consuming it is to get just a fraction of the people of the PFA organized and attending a Volleyball Tournament or a National Zlot or Camp for a week. She had many more participants whom she had to organize. She was always full of energy and happy to be at a Falcons event. I am so glad that I got to ride the bus with her at the Bowling Tournament and to know that she was proud of me! I am immensely proud to have had her as a mentor during my youth in the PFA gym classes.

VP Trish: Making a Difference

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Just about from the beginning of life, people (in addition to family members) make an impact on you. Quite often, these people are teachers but more for me were Falcon Leaders. Druhna Lottie Fik was someone who made a tremendous impact on me while growing up. (Many of you will agree!)

Back when I was young, we were afraid of authority figures. Druhna was not to be messed with but in time, one learned to respect her, not fear her.

Druhna Fik was truly an amazing woman way ahead of her time. In my opinion, she was very blessed to be married to Stanley (as he was to be married to her!). Think about this, in 1962 after 22 years of marriage and three children, Lottie became only the second woman to be a Chief Instructress of the Polish Falcons. This required quite a bit of travel!

Druhna held this position from 1962 until 1981. During this time, Druhna worked with three men – Edward Biestek (1960-1963), Gustav Pieprzyny(1963-1970) and Edmund Pett (1971-1981).

Back in those days, Druhna would write a new drill for each girls’ division every four years. Each National Zlot would have a new routine. These routines were beautiful and done to Polish music. My favorite is still the ball drill that we performed in 1972 at Notre Dame. I can remember Druhna giving the commands and counting in Polish. Marching was a big deal and I loved the way we marched!

Gymnastics was a major part of our program and Druhna wrote optional routines for each piece of equipment – high low bars, balance beam, vault and free-ex. Talk about creativity and talent.

Our National Drill has changed throughout the years. When Poland was still under Communist rule, the drill had only three rotations symbolically not facing the west. When we added the fourth turn, we needed to find an ending for the drill. At an Instructors’ meeting hosted by Druhna Marian Weslowski, we worked on the drill. Druhna Fik was there and suggested the ending that we still use.

It was always wonderful to spend time with Lottie, she always had a smile and was very supportive. Druhna even bowled in the National Bowling Tournaments. When Druhna Marian started National Camp in Angola, N.Y., Druhna Lottie was there helping with singing and dancing. Talk about dedicated! Druhna was 80 years old, sleeping on a cot in a cabin with several other women!

Even after Druhna retired, her involvement continued. She attended National Zlots helping with the youth Members from her Nest and District, as well as Instructors Clinics hosted by Druhna Marian. I have fond memories of Druhna calling me to discuss music and other things pertaining to the youth programs.

Even though most of us hadn’t seen Druhna in a while, so many of us still thought of her and asked about her often. Druhna Joan Beilfuss of Nest 907 (who spent many summers with Lottie) used to keep me posted. Obviously, her daughter Felicia and other family members would share Lottie stories.

Druhna Lottie’s legacy will live on. She was an amazing, strong wonderful woman who touched the lives of so many!

May Druhna Lottie rest in peace! Czolem!