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JoAnn 'Morris' Stevens '80

JoAnn Stevens

How fortunate JoAnn Morris Stevens was to not only have an interest in running but to be part of some trailblazing teams at Sidney. As more and more female student-athletes were finding their talents with Title IX support, JoAnn knew running was her passion.

Through the junior high-middle school years, JoAnn enjoyed seeing how fast she could run in gym class and again during the President's Physical Fitness testing. After her eighth grade year in the summer of 1976, she was asked if she would be interested in being a cross country runner on a new girls team that would join the highly successful boys team led by Hall of Fame coach Bill Davidson.

The agreement was, if they could get five girls to join (it took five to make a full scoring team), Sidney could field their first-ever girls cross country team... and it happened!

Her most vivid memories were not of the historical aspect of this venture; rather they were the "hand-me-down boys uniforms and warm-ups we got to wear and actually getting to ride to meets on the bus with the boys".

While JoAnn was the leading runner and earned four varsity letters in that sport, it was indoor and outdoor track where she excelled. Throughout her four years of both seasons, JoAnn established many school records. Some held up as Susquenango League or even Section IV records!

Among those Section IV standards, both established before conversion to metric distances: a 300 yard dash time of 37.7 seconds and a mile relay clocking of 4:27.9 with Liz and Rosie Voltz and Terry Hogan in 1978. School records, in addition to the sectional bests, were in the 600 yard run (indoors) in 1:30.7 and the outdoor 400 meters in 58.9 seconds.

Sectional titles were captured in 1977 in the 600 yard run before the state meet existed for girls, and the indoor 300 and outdoor 440 (both in yards) in the winter and spring of 1978.

And as JoAnn quickly established herself as a middle distance force in track and 5k frontrunner in cross country, her love of school sports was also evident. As many young ladies were making the switch from cheerleading to team and individual sports, she enjoyed being a varsity cheerleader in football and basketball both junior and senior years. It meant many a double practice and meet/game combination on the same day. JoAnn praised her parents for allowing this often-brutal schedule that involved them for transportation and late meals.

A huge reward was cheering for the NYS basketball championship Warriors as a junior. As JoAnn noted, going to games was enjoyable anyway, so "cheering was a great way to show school spirit and socialize."

Ithaca College recruited her to run track, both winter and spring seasons, where she again found her strength in middle distances. Every event from 400m to 1500m and relays. In fact, she was part of a school record 4 x 400 meter quartet.

JoAnn earned her BS in Physical Education at Ithaca in 1984, then added an MS in Fitness and Sport Physiology from Bowling Green State University two years later. Running never left her, as she returned to New York in 1987, winning a bronze medal in the Empire State Games in the 1500m. She won the Bijou Mile Champion (4:44.9) that same year. Later she'd add numerous road races from 5k to marathons!

Starting in 1987, she coached track at Schuylerville HS for five seasons. Since 1994 she's been an elementary P.E. teacher at St. Clement's School in Saratoga Springs. A series of knee surgeries forced her retirement from running in 2011...however, JoAnn still enjoys hiking, biking, snowshoeing and paddle boarding. No, she hasn't slowed down a bit.

Tonight she takes her rightful place in the Sidney Alumni Sports Hall of Fame.