The roster of the D.C. Striders track club of years past sports national collegiate champions, All-Americans and Olympians. Despite the overwhelming number of champions that have been produced by the D.C. organization, founder Glenda Moody would much rather talk about the academic endeavors of team members.
Moody, who does not run, started the club in 1967 because she was "appalled" by the lack of opportunity for black youths in D.C. at the time.
"Back in '67," Moody said, "I saw kids who didn't know how to apply to school. And if they did know how, they didn't know how to get money. Education is more important to me than anything else . . . (track) is just a turn-on for the kids" to get them interested in college.
Moody brags that every athlete who joins the Striders goes away to college on scholarship. She personally compiles profiles on each member, then sends them to all appropriate schools. "Everybody who comes in contact (with the Striders) has one (a scholarship)," said Moody, who lives near Dupont Circle in Northwest Washington.
"I can show you the papers. I can show you the letters . . . There's not another program in the country that has the educational value of our program - and wins, too. That's why we won the Presidential Award (in 1971)."
"I've never come in contact with one who hasn't gone to school," agreed the team coach, Clarence Musgrove, who graduated from the program and went on to become an All-American at Catholic University. "They might not finish school, but their life is straight. They've built confidence and self-respect."
Since Moody, 31, moved East from California and started in 1967 with three runners, the Striders have grown to a membership of 115 to 125 athletes, Musgrove said. In 1972, the Washington-based Striders expanded to the suburbs. Though the only official practices take place daily at Catholic, with attendance ranging from 25 to 30, the largest contingents now come from Maryland (35 to 40 members) and Virginia (55 to 60). Athletes from these areas usually practice on their own or with their high school squads and run as Striders only during meets. The Striders' ranks, which include athletes aged 13 to 21, now extend as far north as Aberdeen, Md., and as far south as the Virginia peninsula. But all members receive the same scholarship consideration.
Moody is proud of the organization's history. "When I broke into the thing. I was the first woman in the country to have a team on an international level, and all all-male team," she said. "I went through a lot of hassles with that."
There are no membership dues for the Striders, which now has a female squad. "You just have to uphold the morals of the club and be respectful," said Musgrove who lives at 16th Street and Spring Road in Northwest Washington.
The club recently has been operating on an annual budget of about $50,000, said John O'Boyle, president of the Striders' board. Much of the tab is picked up by the Unification Church, the Black United Fund and a federal grant, with additional funds coming from banks, businesses and personal donations. Moody commands the club's largest salary at about $6,000 a year, O'Boyle added.
Musgrove and Moody both said the reason for the success of their program is the effort to create a closeness between athletes and their teammates and coaches. "We have a family here and everything we do is to try to keep everybody together so they can help each other," said Musgrove, who works as a messenger for a law firm and volunteers his time to the Striders. "A lot of kids don't have families, don't have brothers, and the track team soothes some of that."
"It's helped really to broaden my perspective in running as well as helping people," said Donnie Payne, 18, of 2262 13th St. NE, who, with his twin brother Ronnie, will move on from the Striders and McKinley High School in D.C. to track scholarships at Kentucky State college. "Clarence Musgrove taught me the proper technique of running, breathing and of form. Now I can go on and help other people. All they ask is you be out there and do your best."
The Striders' season, which does not get into full swing until summer when its predominantly high school membership is out of school, recently registered its usual strong start by capturing the crown at the Atlanta Track Classic for the sixth time in seven years. Now, the Striders have their sights set on the U.S. Junior Men's and Women's Track Championships for 19-year-olds and under at Indiana University in Bloomington Saturday and Sunday. The top two finishers in each event will then go on to a junior meet with the Russians in the U.S.S.R. The club also would like to improve on its three national high school records in the boys' and girls' mile relays and the boys' sprint medley.