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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The passing last week of former Ohio State University women’s track and field head coach and former Olympian Mamie Rallins hit around the world, including at least one Ottawa County family.

Rallins passed away Monday after a car accident on Route 53 near Fremont. She was 74.

Tamra Sinden, daughter of Graytown resident Dorothy Gackstetter, was an athlete under Rallins in the mid to late 1980s at OSU, and Tamra, Dorothy, and father Marvin Gackstetter were close friends.

“Great memories are had of Mamie,” Dorothy said. “In May of 2008, I asked Mamie if she would assist me in the opening up the new walkway of Riverview campus, which she did, and she also carried the 1997 Olympics torch, which she carried at the Alanta World Olympics in 1996. I also asked her if she would like to be master of ceremonies at my Senior Olympics competition at St. Francis (High School), which she did. She will be greatly missed.

Rallins, who lived in Port Clinton, competed in the 80-meter hurdles at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games and in the 100-meter hurdles at the Munich 1972 Games. She served as U.S. head coach at the 1987 IAAF World Indoor Championships, assistant coach for the 1996 U.S Olympic Team in Atlanta and as head manager at the Sydney 2000 Games.

She was the first African-American female coach at Ohio State, where she took the helm in 1976 and remained for 18 years. She helped start the OSU women’s track and cross country programs.

During her OSU career, she coached 60 Big Ten indoor/outdoor champions, 24 All Americans, nine U.S. Olympic Team Trials track and field qualifiers, one Olympian. She also spent three years as an assistant athletic director.

Always remaining close to the sport, Rallins remained active with the Ohio State track and field team up until her death. A volunteer coach and team statistician, Rallins had just returned with the team from the Big Ten outdoor championships.

"The Ohio State track and field and cross country family is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our dear friend, Mamie Rallins," said Karen Dennis, OSU director of track & field and cross country.

"As the first African-American woman to coach at The Ohio State University, Mamie was a trailblazer and a champion for all things Ohio State. She was our biggest supporter — mentor, coach, cheerleader, statistician and team grandma. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, current and former student-athletes. A two-time Olympian, Division I track and field coach, athletic administrator and 2000 Olympic team manager, she has touched the lives of countless individuals in the world of track and field. She will be greatly missed."

Gene Smith, Ohio State senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation endowed athletics director, added. “Mamie Rallins was an esteemed member of the Ohio State community and a pioneer in the sport of track and field. We are deeply saddened by her passing. Our track and field and cross country programs would not enjoy the success they do today without her dedication, support and hard work over 18 years as women’s head coach and many more as a mentor, friend and volunteer. She will be greatly missed by Buckeyes everywhere.”

Rallins also coached elite athletes during her career, 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 and field team at the 2000 Sydney Games.

 
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