Trailblazing efforts in West Virginia girl’s sports

Looking back to where it started 50 years ago
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Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 10:05 PM EDT
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DODDRIDGE, W.Va (WDTV) - Barbara Stout started coaching at Doddridge County High School 50 years ago in 1972, prior to girl’s sports being sanctioned under the WVSSAC.

“The girls made a committee and came to me and asked me if I would organize girls sports we got no pay, no compensation for any of the time we spent, but you know what I’d do it again,” said Stout.

Building from the ground up, Stout knew they were onto something special from the very beginning, “We felt like we had a cause we wanted to stomp our feet for.”

Even if not everyone believed, “The men saw girls athletics as being something that was just going to be a fade, and so I don’t think they felt to threatened in the beginning and so we just went like thunder.”

Teams were put together for basketball, softball, gymnastics and volleyball, backed by a support group of mothers and grandmothers who lead the fundraising efforts for new uniforms, equipment, and a very nice bus driver who would volunteer his time for free.

“Girls practiced in gumshoes an gloves with the fingertips cut out and they were running and done everything they could to get in shape because we weren’t allowed in the weight room,” said Stout.

It was the success of those early teams that earned the respect of girl’s sports in and around the county.

“We played a softball game as a team here in the state and at the end of the third inning we had I think 38-nothing and I wanted that coach to give it to us and she wouldn’t so we won 68-nothing, it epitomizes the fact that success builds success,” Stout said.

The movement was long awaited from the young women, and Stout fought through the status quo to give them the opportunities, “It was out of the norm and you have to be a little out of the norm not to feel , may get a little upset and I never really have cared too much about what anyone thought of me as long as I was doing the right thing.”

Those years didn’t come without roadblocks, “Things didn’t happen as quickly as we all thought it should at the very beginning but we, we didn’t give up.”

To Stout, there was no such thing as a setback, “If you think you’re having a setback then you will have it but if you see something that gets to be a stumbling block, you just kick it out of the way and move on.”

When the first West Virginia girl’s basketball state tournament was held a year after Stout stopped coaching the Bulldogs in 1976, there was a bigger accomplishment she saw, “I think the greatest success was the fact that so many of those girls were successful, they became wonderful citizens of the untied states and that’s what we need now and what we needed then.”

Seeing the progress five decades later, it’s pretty surreal, “When I walk in, when I walked into the new high school when it opened, I just felt that it had been a journey from where we started to now and I was glad I was a live to se it, when you’re my age it certainty doesn’t bring any kind of a prize if you haven’t lived a life that you think has been fuel and instrumental in helping some cause in America.”

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