Gamecocks honor track and field great Dawn Ellerbe

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Dawn-Ellerbe

The South Carolina track and field program honored one of its legends Saturday afternoon.

As part of the Gamecock Invitational, USC held a jersey retirement ceremony for Gamecocks track and field great Dawn Ellerbe. She’s the third USC athlete to have their jersey retired at the Sheila and Morris Cregger Track.

Considered one of the greatest throwers in program history, Ellerbe competed at USC from 1992-97 and won four NCAA titles during that stretch. In both 1996 and 1997, Ellerbe was named the SEC Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year, and she was a six-time All-American. She still holds the South Carolina record for the 20-pound weight and has the second-best marks in the shot put, discus and hammer throw.

“Sports changed my life. South Carolina track and field change my life,” Ellerbe said. “Being an athlete, it taught me how to overcome adversity. It taught me how to deal with people from different backgrounds, from different cultures. We all got together, we were all teammates, we were all family. We were all Gamecocks.”

After her college career, Ellerbe went on to compete for Team USA and finished seventh in the hammer throw in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She won 16 national titles throughout her career.

Inducted into USC’s athletics hall of fame in 2005, Ellerbe worked in a variety of marketing roles for the USC athletic department for four years starting in 2008. Since 2013, she’s worked as an associate athletic director at Cal State Northridge.

“Dawn was a part of the beginning stages of the dominance of women’s sports,” USC head coach Curtis Frye said in an official statement. “She became a pioneer here and held world records. She came here and developed into an Olympian and world record holder. She was dominant in the SEC and won multiple NCAA titles.

“She is a picture of the fact you can be great at Carolina. For our women’s programs to be as prominent as they across our entire athletic department, there had to be a picture of women’s success. I think Dawn is the epitome of that picture of excellence in athletics. I am so proud South Carolina was a part of her journey.”

Earlier in the year, the SEC recognized Ellerbe as an “SEC Trailblazer” in honor of the 50th anniversary of Title IX and her role in helping grow women’s sports. All these years later Ellerbe told The State she’s proud of the way women’s sports have blossomed, especially at South Carolina.

“When you’re actually in it, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re 19 years old, right?” Ellerbe said. “Looking back and you read your own bio, it means so much to you. … I think women’s sports in general have been elevated. They’ve been elevated at South Carolina, they’ve been elevated in the SEC. Being able to watch what Dawn Staley has been able to do with the basketball team and how much they mean to the community, that’s just everything.”

Track and field, retired jerseys

▪ Dawn Ellerbe (1992-97)

▪ Miki Barber (1999-2003)

▪ Terrence Trammell (1998-2000)

Michael Bailey is the founder of The MinorityEye and serves as the Chief-Curator of Information. He leads the editorial staff and works as a multimedia journalist who specializes in producing news stories and personal profiles that highlight the cultural, social, economic, and political experiences of minorities living in South Carolina and beyond. His extensive media, business, and political background has made him a well-respected voice and an often sought-after commentator on issues impacting people of color.

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