Memories of Don & Connie Holder


FSU Early Women's Gymnastics

In the early fifties the women at FSU did not have competitive sports, rather it was called "Play Days." It was considered too strenuous psychologically for the girls to have the score reflect a winner, so it was basically a fun session. Dr. Katie Montgomery was head of so-called women's athletics. She was a remarkable teacher. Almost all of the Gymnasts had her for several courses and held her in high regard. She loved all of us and catered to all. The girls on the Gym team were organized by Connie and paid their own fare to the meet in Chicago where they won their event. Upon returning to the campus, each girl was called in front of Dr. Montgomery and literally chewed out for being in competition and thus no recognition was given to this team.

Connie & I arrived in Tallahassee in 1951 to find no women's apparatus. At that time Connie was nationally ranked and potentially able to obtain a spot on the 1952 Olympic team with me. A beam was built, however, no uneven bars were purchased, eliminating Connie's chance for the team.

We have written this just in case some of you were wondering why the women were not as prominent as the men during the fifties. However, things did change. As you can see by the images below there was a women's team by 1960, and, as if President Kennedy had challenged these women instead of the space program in the fifties, Gail Sontgerath made it from the FSU campus to the US Olympic team before the decade was out.