Physical Ed & Recreation Dept
Lester R. Zook has served at EMU since 1988. He chairs the Department of Physical Education and Recreation, and teaches primarily in the Outdoor Ministry and Adventure Leadership program. He earned his B.A. from Messiah College (Health and Physical Education, 1982), a masters from Temple University (Recreation and Leisure Programming, 1985) and an Ed.D. from the University of Virginia (Higher Education Administration, 1995). In addition to teaching at EMU, Lester owns WILD GUYde Adventures, providing outdoor adventure leadership for families, youth groups, scouts, and other clients in the mountains, caves, and rivers of Virginia and West Virginia. After 20 years of leading the EMU Cross Country team, Lester retired from coaching in 2009. He was awarded the ODAC Cross Country Coach of the Year award four times and took several athletes on to the NCAA Division III National Championship in cross country and track and field. Lester is married to Robin (30 years), and they have 4 children (Ethan, Katie, Aaron, and Mary), a daughter-in-law (Melissa), a son-in-law (Jeremiah) and a grandson (Elijah James).
Brenda (Kratz) Bechler played four years of field hockey and softball at EMU while earning a B.S. in health and physical education, becoming certified to teach K-12. She spent four years as assistant field hockey coach before taking over the field hockey program as head coach. During her tenure the Lady Royals have won four conference championships and advanced to the national tournament. She also spent one year as head softball coach at Eastern Mennonite High School and two years as head softball coach at EMU.
Her coaching motto for her players is, “When you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.”
Bechler earned a master of science in exercise science from James Madison University in 2002, and in 2005 became a member of the faculty in the EMU physical education department.
Bechler and husband Dave live in Harrisonburg with their two children, Brett and Shay.
Sandy Brownscombe earned her Ed.D. from Argosy University/Sarasota, where her dissertation work focused on how second and third-year teachers develop and demonstrate caring in their classrooms. She serves as Coordinator of Field Experiences for the education department. A member of the faculty since 1978, Sandy has taught in the Physical Education Department and in 1991 began teaching in the Education Department. She coached field hockey, women’s basketball, and men’s volleyball and is a member of the EMU Athletics Hall of Honor. Sandy serves as EMU’s representative on the Mid-Valley Clinical Faculty Consortium for Teacher Education Steering Committee. She will serve as a member of the Association of Teacher Educator Board of Directors until February 2016.
Twenty two years as EMU’s Men’s Soccer Coach: 1991 Present, In 2012, his team finished 8th in the ODAC regular season before losing in the conference quarter-final 2-1 to ODAC Champion Roanoke College. Mast has put together an impressive resume with his teams advancing to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Finals five times and the NCAA Division III “Round of Sixteen” in 1998. He has twice been named ODAC “Coach of the Year” and also received Virginia State Coach of the Year honors from the Virginia Sports Information Directors in 1998. His record during his tenure is 202-186-35.
A graduate of Eastern Mennonite University Mast also received his EdD in Educational Leadership: Higher Education in 2007 from Argosy University. He also holds a MS degree in Health & Physical Education: 1990 from West Chester University.
Mast also holds an NSCAA: National, Advanced National, & Premiere Diploma. He is the Director of Kick’s Soccer Camp: 1986-present He has served as an NCAA Division III Championships Committee Member 1996-1998, and as Chair in 1998 and as a Virginia Western District ODP Coach 2000-01, and Virginia ODP State Assessor 2001; and served as a Shenandoah Valley United Soccer Association Board Member and on their Travel Oversight Committee from 1998-2011.
Coach Mast lives in Harrisonburg and loves spending time with his wife Cheryl, and sons Mark (20) and Grayson (16). He serves is an active member both at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church and in the local community. He enjoys the outdoors, sports, traveling, playing guitar, and wood working.