The administrators at the school and the superintendent’s office approved of Calvin starting a gymnastics program at the school in 1958, and thus SHS became the first school in the state to do so.
“We did that long before Title IX,” Calvin said Friday. “With the blessing of the principal, we started traveling the state, putting on clinics and teaching people how to teach the sport of gymnastics.”
After starting the program, Calvin’s next goal was to have competitive gymnastics as a sport recognized by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. To help with that, Calvin and her athletes traveled the state putting on exhibitions for other schools and hoping the sport would catch on.
Before getting gymnastics approved as a state championship sport, Calvin helped organize a regional conference, composed of teams from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. The team from SHS competed in that conference before the AHSAA made gymnastics a championship sport. Calvin was the state director of high school gymnastics from 1959-1989 and saw many of her gymnasts win championships and earn All-State and All-American honors during that time. The AHSAA ended championships for the sport in 2000, Calvin said.
While Calvin didn’t need Title IX to get girls’ sports started at Sylacauga, she recognizes the importance of the legislation.
“I think it was a good thing,” she said. “(Prior to the enactment of the law) most of the time the only thing they could be was a cheerleader or a majorette. I thought it was a good thing. It’s given a lot of girls an opportunity that they would not have had if it weren’t for sports.”
Contact Heather Baggett at firstname.lastname@example.org.