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HomeSportsBenita Fitzgerald Mosley turned the opportunity for women into a gold medal

Benita Fitzgerald Mosley turned the opportunity for women into a gold medal

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Benita Fitzgerald Mosley is a pioneer, a path she learned from her mother.

Her hometown of Dale City, Virginia, paid tribute to both women along those roads, first naming a street for Mosley after she won an Olympic gold medal in 1984.

Eleven years later, Fannie W. Fitzgerald Elementary School was built on Benita Fitzgerald Drive, dedicated to her mother. Fitzgerald was one of four black educators, the Brave Four, selected in 1965 to pioneer the desegregation of Prince William County schools.

“It’s a pretty amazing legacy for our family,” Mosley said. “I am so proud to have a mother like that, that she was so brave and such an amazing educator.”

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Mosley never experienced segregated schools because of people like his mother. She also did not experience life without opportunities in sports, growing up in a progressive county like Prince William. Even before Title IX passed, when Mosley was 11 years old, there were places here for girls to participate in sports.

Had he been born a decade earlier or in another part of the country, that reality would not have been his.

It is a reality where he made his first Olympic team at 18; a reality in which she led UT athletics to the first national title won by a Tennessee women’s team and was a 14-time All-American, all while earning an engineering degree; a reality in which she became the first American and African American woman to win the 100m hurdles at the 1984 Olympics.

However, Mosley was trained by a woman who lived in the opposite reality. Former UT track coach Terry Crawford didn’t get a chance to play sports at Greeneville High School in Tennessee. When Crawford ran at UT, she went to the Knoxville Track Club and the physical education department sent her to the first-ever women’s intercollegiate track and field championship in Texas.

In 1969, Crawford became the first woman in any sport in Tennessee to win a national championship.

It was an exciting experience, one that she strove to provide her athletes when she became UT’s first female track and field coach in the fall of 1973.

“It really showed me some of the things that men have enjoyed in sports for decades,” Crawford said. “And it really inspired me to take on the motto of supporting women… when you see someone who wants to get to the top and you see the inspiration that they have, the determination that they have, the sacrifices that they’re willing to make, that’s the emotion. of training.”

When Crawford watched Mosley run in high school, he saw the potential for her to be not only one of the best athletes in Tennessee, but one of the best in the world. She was right.

Mosley’s gold medal is the gift that keeps on giving, as she calls it. Her success in athletics and her involvement with the Women’s Sports Foundation led Mosley to her post-race career. She was involved with the foundation for 22 years as a board member and board chair.

“He was instrumental in allowing me, as a newborn Title IX baby at 11 or 12 years old, to have all these opportunities that led to a college scholarship and an Olympic gold medal and (being) a 14-time All American.” Mosley spoke about his involvement with the foundation. “I mean, it’s amazing to think how different my life would have been, if it wasn’t for that law.”

Her career has led her to many other opportunities in sport, including being USA Track & Field’s first Chief of Sport Performance, Chief Operating Officer of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and CEO of Laureus. Mosley is now the Vice President of LeagueApps, which provides a technology platform for youth sports organizers with a mission to create positive youth sports cultures.

“Women didn’t have the opportunity to get degrees in law, medicine, engineering. Women didn’t have the opportunity to be sports executives,” Mosley said. “So I’m pursuing a professional career and I’ve had opportunities throughout my career that were only made possible by the law, Title IX, and I’ll be eternally grateful.”

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