Former Alma standout earns NJCAA Hall of Fame honor.
Allison Dotson was surprised.
The former Alma athlete and Eastern Oklahoma State All-American received a phone call she was going to be inducted into the National Junior College Track and Field Hall of Fame.
The ceremony was held on May 20 at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson, Kan.
At first, she thought the caller had the wrong number.
Smitch assured her he didn’t.
“You may not remember me, but I know who you are,” the caller said.
Allison was skeptical.
Mike Smitch recalled the moment when he first met Dotson. It was at the 1981 Nationals track meet. She was running anchor for her relay team, and his team had taken the lead in the last leg.
Allison not only caught up with the runner but passed her and finished about 10 yards ahead of her.
“I remembered who he was after that,” said Dotson. When she met Smitch at the Hall of Fame presentation. He told her he wasn’t mad at her, but “he said I did something that he’s never seen before and hasn’t seen since.”
When Allison began running for Alma, the school didn’t have a track or a girls’ track team. She didn’t even have track shoes and ran most of her early events with bare feet.
Her older sister, Teresa Dotson, who was part of Alene Crabtree’s 1976 state championship team, also ran with her.
“We would go to track meets and she would be the senior high high-point winner, and I would get the junior high high-point winner,” Allison said. “She was my coach as well.”
Allison ran at her first track meet when she was in seventh grade. They didn’t have starter blocks and Allison still ran without shoes.
“The girl was older, eighth or ninth grade and she beat me,” said Allison. “I was crying. My sister said, ‘You stop that crying. We’ll train some more and get better.’”
Allison got her rematch about a week later.
“I was nervous. Shaking a little. My sister was going to be at the finish line. She told me not to let the other girl get to her before I did,” Allison said. “I wasn’t going to let anyone beat me to my sister.”
Allison didn’t lose a single race until she participated in her first indoor track meet her freshman year of college.
“I was having a bad day,” she said. “I never ran indoors before. The track banked on the turns and I wasn’t used to that. I fell off the track. Lots of people… freshmen fell off the track. When I did the long jump… I overshot the pit and got my leg stuck between a couple of wooden planks. They had to stop the track meet just to get my leg out.
“I told the coach I was done running indoors.”
The whole experience was new to her.
“It’s one thing to have all the competitors there, but the coaches and the spectators all there breathing the same air,” said Allison. “There were these stations for the competitors to get oxygen. I had never seen such a thing. I told the coach I wasn’t going to put my face in a mask where other people were putting their faces.”
In her two years at Eastern Oklahoma State College, Allison was an 11-time NJCAA All-American. She had five national records at the time as well.
Allison fondly recalls of her playing days for Crabtree and even has photos of the two of them in her trophy room.
“I’m really proud of what my sister was able to accomplish as well,” said Allison. “She was the first to get Alma a state championship in basketball and she did it with track as well. When we came up behind them, there were seven of us to win another state.
“This whole thing got me thinking about Miss Crabtree and how something like this could happen to a country girl from Alma.”
Allison, who graduated from Alma in 1980, made two U.S. Olympic teams and was on the verge of actually going to the Olympics but “when I got to the door, my body just quit.”
Later she learned she had some heart damage.
“I don’t miss track in a sense of actually running,” she said. “I hung up my sneakers. I watch track on television and there are some parents who ask me to help out their kids and coach them a bit. That’s when I get right back into it.”
Allison reunited with her college coach, Glen Stone, at the event.
Stone said he didn’t know he had to go to Alma to find an angel.
“He said, ‘In forty-plus years I never found another athlete like her. Not only was she one of my track girls, but she was a daughter because this is my proudest moment after the birth of my children.’”