Women in Sports: Alice Gallimore a trailblazer for women's sports in 1970's Radford

RADFORD, Va. – On Wednesdays, you can find 91-year-old Alice Gallimore in the front row of her Silver Sneakers class in Radford. Her dedication to staying active is no surprise, given her history of promoting physical fitness and women’s sports for over half a century. Alice was a pioneer at Radford High School, where she introduced an intramural track and field team for young women.

Alice’s journey began when she decided to start the team despite having no prior experience in track and field. “Fourteen events, of which I had never had any experience. I thought, ‘Alice, what made you think you could do that?’” Gallimore recalled.

Inspired by other female pioneers in the New River Valley, such as Pulaski’s Joyce Bryant and Christiansburg’s Norma Cox, Alice was determined to make her vision a reality. However, the road was not without its challenges. In the early 1970s, varsity teams were only available for men, and Alice faced numerous obstacles in securing resources and support for her team.

“I tried to have intramurals, but it was hard to get the gym. Except for early in the morning before school started and that’s not real good,” Alice explained. “Then we had to take girls around in cars because we didn’t have the school bus that the boys could take wherever they wanted. So that went on for a while, it was difficult, but we did it. We had two lanes, two inside lanes to run in practice, out here were the sprinters, behind us were the distance people, we had to be careful to stay in our two lanes. But we could do it, and it was wonderful.”

Alice’s perseverance paid off. Shortly after her team took to the track, Title IX passed, marking a significant victory for women’s sports. The strides Alice took to ensure her team was taken seriously and their voices were heard were groundbreaking.

Alice’s impact on the young women at Radford High School is evident in the heartfelt comments shared by her former students. “She’s been a rock who believed in me so I could believe in myself,” one woman shared.

As a physical education teacher and advocate for better opportunities for female athletes, Alice Gallimore can now look back and see the progress her advocacy has achieved. “We had to run in our track suits, some of the schools had uniforms and everything. Just watching it and watching how it’s grown, it is amazing.”

To Alice Gallimore and the other pioneers in the New River Valley, Norma Cox and Joyce Bryant, thank you for your invaluable contributions to the growth of women’s sports.


About the Author

Brooke Leonard is the newest addition to the 10 Sports team, joining in June 2019.

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