Terry Crawford, Lady Vol’s former head athletics coach from 1974 to 1984, was honored April 19 by Greeneville Middle School. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the school named the track after the East Tennessee native and pioneer of women’s athletics in Tennessee.
The “Terry Hull Crawford Track” will pay tribute to a local star, a leader in women’s athletics and a legend in the sport of track and field.
Prior to Crawford’s training successes, she was herself a Lady Vol. As a member of the track team from 1969 to 1970, she was a three-time U.S. and national champion at 220 yards, 440 yards, and 880 yards. She also competed internationally and was a runner-up at the 1968 and 1971 U.S. Olympic Trials. Her name remains on the UT record charts, being tied for second in most outdoor titles won and tied for the program lead in most individual outdoor titles with three.
“I think one of my favorite memories as an athlete is when I won a college championship and got to wear a UT uniform,” Crawford said. “It was very special to represent the university that I loved.”
Crawford remembers never having the opportunity to compete in track and field while in high school. She participated in intramural and physical education programs. However, when she arrived at UT, intramural teams began including women on their rosters.
“I can’t think of anything I’ve enjoyed more,” Crawford said. “I was introduced to what a sporting career could be like.”
Title IX was enacted on June 23, 1972, and two years later Crawford’s athletic career ended and she returned to Rocky Top to begin her coaching career.
“I felt very lucky that the administrators at UT wanted to let me take over this program,” Crawford said. “I didn’t really think about the impact it had on the program. I was just happy to see that UT was moving in the direction of supporting women in athletics.”
However, Crawford saw the impacts Title IX would have.
“Title IX has served as a tremendous catalyst for women’s sports teams across the country,” Crawford said. “Obviously, before 1972, there were girls who aspired to be on Olympic teams. There were various states that had their own format to allow women to participate in sports, but Title IX was really that tool to give them the possibility of breaking the glass ceiling.”
Crawford remembers what it was like to be a woman in athletics. “As an athlete at UT, I competed in two AIAW championships. I have never been so proud of to borrow a men’s track warm-up with the traditional Tennessee lettering on it, orange and white, and going to a national championship for women. It was still a huge struggle for our women’s athletic teams at UT to really move forward.”
Over the next ten years as a coach at UT, she produced 27 individual national champions and 123 All-Americans. Crawford took the Lady Vols to four outdoor SEC titles in four years and one indoor SEC title. Prior to the inception of the NCAA in 1982, Crawford led the Lady Vols to six top-ten AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) rankings in indoor and outdoor athletics. In the three years she coached at Tennessee after the NCAA’s inception (1982-84), she led them to five top-five indoor-outdoor finishes.
Most notably, she led the 1981 Lady Vol track team to its first-ever national championship, as well as the first-ever national championship in women’s track and field history at the University of Tennessee.
“I think if you talk to other coaches and administrators who were there in 1970 when the first women’s teams were organized and UT joined the [AIAW]myself, Pat Summitt and some of the other outstanding local athletes were all very young, inexperienced coaches,” Crawford said.
“I didn’t think it had an impact, or anything that would be as noted as it is today, but I’m certainly grateful that it happened.”
Crawford identifies this as one of his favorite memories from his Hall of Fame career.
“That effort was such a wonderful experience for all of the athletes,” Crawford recalled. “UT recognized every athlete who went to this national championship. They were celebrated as the ‘Athlete of the Year,’ which was usually awarded to a single athlete. To this day, these athletes still refer to themselves as ‘the ten who made it a “. .”
In 2002, Terry Crawford was inducted into the Lady Vol Hall of Fame and has been enshrined in several other halls of fame during his esteemed career. She is a member of the USTFCCCCA (United States Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association) Class of 1996 Hall of Fame.
After her time at UT, she continued to build on her successes. She then coached at the University of Texas – from 1984 to 1992. She was named head coach of the United States women’s track and field team for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. She was also the head coach of the American team for several international competitions.
“I think every step of my athletic journey has been really enjoyable, satisfying and rewarding,” Crawford said. “I was very lucky. Often I say I was in the right place at the right time from the start.”