Tuesday, May 17, 2016

V 6 N. 38 Mamie Rallins R.I.P.

Mamie Rallins,  Olympian (1968 and 1972) and the first women's track and field coach at Ohio State University died tragically in an automobile accident recently in Ohio.

Below are two pieces about Mamie Rallins.

Rob Oller commentary | Ohio State women's track: Mamie Rallins won hearts with tough love

Stephanie Hightower arrived at Ohio State in 1976 a track and field diva. She left it four years later as one of Mamie Rallins’ little girls.
“That’s what she called us, her little girls. She never married and never had kids. We were her kids,” Hightower said Tuesday.
Those kids are heartbroken today, pained by the death of Rallins, the first African-American woman to coach at Ohio State. The Chicago native was killed Monday afternoon in a four-car collision near Fremont while driving from Columbus to her home in Port Clinton. Her car drifted left of center and struck two semis before colliding with a four-door sedan, according to a Ohio Highway Patrol release. She was 74.
I knew Rallins only from a distance — a distance I chose to keep, because she intimidated me. That look. Eyes narrowing. Voice snapping. Below a crusty exterior, however, was a nurturing caretaker who was fiercely loyal to her athletes.
“Once she loved you, you became hers,” Hightower said.
But first came the tough stuff.
“For the first three months at Ohio State she made me run cross country,” said Hightower, who was stunned by having to run something with more than two turns. For context, asking a sprinter to run anything more than a city block is like requiring a Derby horse to plow fields.
“She would drop us off in Upper Arlington and tell us to run back with the cross country team,” Hightower continued. “I was a sprinter and a prima donna. I had to figure out how I was going to deal with this woman.”
Unbeknownst to Hightower, Rallins already had figured how best to deal with her fastest athlete. Mixing tough love with reverse psychology, Rallins helped turn Hightower into the nation’s top women’s hurdler by telling her what she could not do.
“I was competitive, and that got me revved up to prove her wrong,” Hightower said.
Unfortunately, any chance for the Buckeyes’ hurdler to prove she was best in the world was quashed when the United States boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, after Hightower already had made the team.
For Rallins, it was the third time getting caught in the middle of political turmoil. A world-class hurdler at Tennessee State, she competed in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where U.S. sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith made their Black Power Salute during the medal ceremony. She also participated in the 1972 Munich Games, when Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 members of the Israeli team.
Rallins discussed that Olympic history with her OSU athletes, but not to push a political agenda.
“I didn’t see Mamie as an activist,” said Hightower, who is President and CEO of the Columbus Urban League. “For her it was just being a purist as it related to sports. It was about the purity of the Olympic movement. She did talk about the tragedy of the ’72 Olympics, but more about how devastating it was and why anyone would do something like that. For her it was about how athletes from different countries bonded and how people made lifelong friends.”
Rallins also made clear she did not need the Olympics to create lifelong friendships. She was brought to OSU in 1976 to birth the track and field and cross country programs as varsity sports, and she kept in touch with the former athletes she coached during her 18 years at OSU, a career that saw her coach 60 indoor and outdoor Big Ten champions and 24 All-Americans. She also served the past seven years as a volunteer assistant under Karen Dennis, director of Ohio State track and cross country.
“She was a nurturing soul,” Hightower said. “We’re all heartbroken. She was just good people.”
Rob Oller is a sports reporter for The 

Jan. 17, 2016
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Former women's track and field head coach Mamie Rallins received the Phyllis Bailey Career Achievement award at the women's basketball game against Purdue on Sunday.

Rallins, a two-time Olympic hurdler, helped start the women's track and field and cross country programs at Ohio State when she became head women’s coach in 1976. The first African-American woman to ever coach at Ohio State, she she coached 60 Big Ten indoor/outdoor champions, 24 All Americans, nine Olympic trial qualifiers and one Olympian during an 18-year career. She also served as assistant athletic director for three years.

Rallins also coached elite athletes, serving as the head coach of the U.S. indoor world championship team in 1987 and assistant coach of the USA Olympic team in 1996. She was the Olympic head manager for the USA women’s track team at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Rallins remains very involved with the Buckeyes, volunteering as a statistician for the track and field program.

I liked Mamie. When I went to Moscow in 74' with the US team, Mamie was on the team and sorta " showed me the ropes" as it was my first international meet and she had been on many such trips. At the outdoor track meets, she became friends with Judy and took an interest in our schnauzer. In later years I knew her as the coach of OSU and would visit with her on occasion. She always called me "old man" and reading this news report, I find she actually was older than me. She as a great hurdler and a great coach. 

Steve Price

Mamie took the lessons from Ed Temple and applied it to the more advantaged Ohio State.  Like Steve, I enjoyed her and she was always nice to me.  Over the years there has been so much drama at OSU with the T&F programs, but Mamie was able to do her thing.  She was a hard-nosed coach, much like her mentor.
   Bill Schnier

Report on Accident

No comments:

V 8 N. 43 Book Review "My Marathon, Reflections on a Gold Medal Life" by Frank Shorter and John Brant

To read an autobiography of someone who was a contemporary, though miles above one's own abilities in the sport of long distance runni...