Isabelle Daniels Holston, 77, Decatur, Georgia
One of our National Senior Games athletes is best known as a member of an Olympic track relay team that won a Bronze Medal. Taken at full perspective, 77 year old Isabelle Daniels Holston’s entire life can be viewed as one big relay fueled by an Olympic spirit.
First Leg: Isabelle Daniels grew up in rural Georgia during segregation where the challenges were many. “We only had old textbooks in school, and had to use hand-me-down athletic uniforms in my high school basketball team. It hurt in my heart, but we made the best we could do with what we had.”
However, her athletic gift was noticed and a path was opened. “I always did well running against girls from other schools. Mr. Ed Temple, the track coach at Tennessee State University, saw me at the 1954 Tuskegee Institute Relays for high school students and invited me to try out for a work aid athletic scholarship at TSU, which I won,” she recalls. “There were several talented girls on my track team like Mae Faggs, who made the 1956 Olympic team with me and had already competed in 1948 and 1952. We were the first TSU team to win the outdoor nationals in 1955. That same year three of us made it to the Pan American Games.”
Second Leg: Isabelle realized her dream by making the U.S. track team and competed in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. She narrowly missed a medal placing fourth in the 100 meter dash, but earned a Bronze Medal in the 4 x 100 meter relays. “I was actually the anchor on that relay. Mae Faggs ran the first leg, Margaret Matthews went second, and Wilma Rudolph ran third and handed me the baton for the anchor. Wilma was still in high school at that time.”
Third Leg: Returning to Georgia, Isabelle enjoyed a 35 year career as a health and physical education teacher, coaching girls’ basketball and track. Along the way, she earned numerous state, regional and national coaching awards. “I tried to do what I was taught to do. Our motto at Tennessee State was ‘enter to learn, go forth to serve.’ Coach Temple taught us to respect God first, yourself next, and then respect others. He then taught the fundamentals of how to run and develop a championship mentality,” she notes. “I’ve always passed that on and told my students to always do their very best. I’ve had teams win county and state championships. Some of those girls got scholarships.”
Anchor Leg (Ongoing): 12 years ago, Isabelle Daniels Holston became a senior athlete at the coaxing of Linda Lowery, a younger runner with National Senior Games experience. “I’ve been going to Nationals since 2007. I missed the 2013 games due to a death in my family, but I’m planning on going to Minnesota next year with my husband. I haven’t won any medals, but it’s just such a joy to go participate and to meet people there.”